Leadership Letter: You Are the Expert
September 1st, 2011


Ryan Calkins

I’m an avid reader. Books, newspapers, blogs, magazines, industry reports— you name it. I read because I love to. But I also read because I want to be informed. I want to know what’s going on in the world, what others think about issues that I’m addressing, and because it helps me understand the world beyond my own experience. And yet in spite of that, my advice for you this month is to stop reading. Correction: finish this issue of TileDealer, and then stop reading.

As business owners, executives, and sales professionals, we are under a constant barrage of information. Much of this information carries real value for us as business leaders, but we have to be judicious in the amount of time we spend mulling over the information. We assume, rightly, that availing ourselves of the best information before making a decision—on where to invest or how to plan the next marketing campaign or who to hire—will produce a better result. But then we take that assumption too far and have a hard time acting.

In business, sometimes making the wrong decision is better than making no decision at all. As an example, consider the decision-making process around new product selection. The potential benefits of a good decision can be huge, as can the consequences of a bad decision. We can all think of half a dozen lines that simply gather dust on the warehouse shelves, as well as those lines that sell like hotcakes. So we deliberate about costs, style, sizes, trims, and every other detail. Maybe we even conduct a little market research. We also think that waiting a little bit might buy us time to see what others are doing. But what happens if we take too long to make a decision? Inevitably the best lines are snatched up by our competition, and we are left with the lines no one else wanted.

While picking a great tile line is a big decision, who out there is better suited to make that decision than you? Your banker? The reporter who wrote the article in the paper about the housing crisis? The interior designer who is trying to keep tabs on tile, carpet, blinds, plumbing fixtures, paint colors and countless other finishes? None of the above. You are the expert. And the same can be said for every key aspect of your business. Who better than you to decide when to add a new location or hire a new salesperson? Only you have the overall understanding of your business and the broad view of your market to be able to assess these questions. No one else is going to make these decisions for you, nor should they.

My message is pretty simple. Trust your gut. Be confident in your ability to make the right decision. Stop reading, thinking, mulling, considering, and deliberating. Start doing.

Ryan Calkins
CTDA President

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