A printer came to me with a dilemma. One of his customers wanted to buy his family printing business and turn it into an in-house print-design department. Having the only print shop in his small town, he felt a responsibility to stay independent and serve the community, just as his parents did before him. Yet the offer was lucrative, and he was flattered. The customer wanted him to lead the in-plant and build the department. He would get paid for his business AND he would get a salary. 

making business decisions for a happy life

We ran through the normal questions. 

What does your wife think? (“She’s fine either way.”). Do you need the money? (“We’re doing well with the shop, so money’s not an issue.”) Are you ready to work for someone else? (“I think I would have a lot of freedom to run things my way.”)

We talked about risk. He listed the things he could and couldn’t control, his comfort zone, and which factors could drastically change each outcome.

I asked how he and his wife had made major decisions in the past, how long they gave themselves to decide, and which experts they consulted.  

After a good long talk, he wasn’t any closer to a decision. I came at it from a different angle.

“If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?”

He thought for a moment.

“If I knew… FOR SURE… I could not fail, I’d find an awesome person to run our business for a couple of years. We’d move someplace exciting while the kids are young. And then we’d come back so they could go to the same high school my wife and I went to.”

What a future he had envisioned — like a beautiful alt-ending to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It had the best qualities of small-town life plus a splash of adventure. With this vision, he could see a clearer path. Even though 2020 has put a crimp in his plans, for now, I know he will make this dream come true.  

If you’ve been struggling to make choices about your dream future, here’s another great tool. In this Bloomberg article and video, author Emily Oster gives a simple set of steps. She explains how to mitigate risk for each option, an important part of the decision-making process:

Matrix for Making Decisions from author Emily Oster

To make better decisions:

  • Envision your ideal future BEFORE considering (or accepting) the options that have been offered.
  • Open your mind.
  • Remove risk as best you can.
  • Use a step-by-step framework. 
  • Consult a trusted friend or expert.

With a better approach to decision making, you may find yourself much closer to the wonderful life you always dreamed about.

See you in the future! 


Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. She is a Marketing Strategist and Business Growth Advisor who consults with owners of print and media businesses of all sizes. Sandy guides clients in building visibility and increasing sales using solid techniques and a proven system.

Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!

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