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理查德•布兰森:我如何决定要不要投资一个新项目

在进行这种决策时,尚无确切的科学理论可供参考,但理查德•布兰森在此提供了一些基本原则。

    本文为与《创业者》杂志的合作内容,原文最初刊登在Entrepreneur.com网站。

    做,还是不做,这是个问题。企业领导人之所以能拿高薪,关键就在他们得做出一个个考虑周全的明智抉择,比如是否要冒险从事某项潜在业务。然而,创业新手在进行类似抉择时却没有什么科学理论或建议可供参考。

    这类决策永远也无法编成程序输入计算机。它更像是参加陪审团,后者要求陪审人员在做出裁定之前必须消除所有合理的怀疑。(令人欣慰的是,企业决策很少涉及企业存亡问题!)不过,我发现了几条基本原则,能够经常帮助我较为及时地决定是否批准某个项目。

    对我而言,第一印象一直都是非常重要的,但我不会让它影响我的商业决策。我发现,就算某个想法能立即让你的眼前为之一亮,你也必须把自己的第一反应放在一旁,然后仔细、客观地衡量这项潜在业务的利弊。即使在初步评估过程中没有发现任何重大弊端,但这也不能说明这些弊端并不存在。几乎每一位初创企业的负责人都有自己难以预见的问题,因此,请务必多花点时间来找出这些问题,并在采取行动前对解决方案进行评估。如果你在起步之后才发现重大问题,那么在处理时就会处于非常被动的地位。

    如果团队成员都赞成实施某个项目,这种谨慎态度的重要性就会受到质疑。没有什么点子是完美无缺的,因此,请务必提高警惕,并努力探索那些含有隐藏问题的领域,然后找到问题,并予以解决。只有这样,企业家才能构建更好的企业。对于是否启动某个项目,不要孤立地做决定,你必须考虑它对自己公司的整体运转有何影响。作为负责人,你的每个决定都会或多或少地影响你随后把握机会的能力——这就是专家们所说的“决策流”。

    你可能会觉得自己一直在考虑的项目非常好,所以不容错过。但你必须思考该项目今后会对你的其他项目会产生什么样的影响。如果当前似乎并非是采取行动的最佳时机,那么就你就得考虑一下,在大家都能接受的时间范围内搁置项目是否有风险,如果有的话,会是什么样的风险。如果出现在两个项目之间举棋不定的情况,那就想一想,为什么要批准这个项目而否定那个项目,以及这样做是否能体现你的优先事项安排。

    最后,尽一切可能来降低风险——以免出现不利情况。在股票投资组合当中,明智的投资者都会竭尽全力地去减少潜在的损失,而你在建立一家新公司的时候也应该采取类似的策略。

    以我组建维珍大西洋航空公司时的情况为例,如果要让我在维珍唱片的那些生意伙伴勉强接受开设新航空公司的风险,唯一的办法就是和波音达成协议:如果新公司一年后的业绩未达到我们的预期,那么波音将回购卖给我们的波音747飞机。从那时起,只要我们打算建立规模巨大的资本密集型公司,比如维珍银河或者即将上马的维珍游轮,我们的团队总会花大量时间来寻找独出心裁的风险规避途径。

    以上只是一些小窍门,我一直用它们来帮助自己做出明智的商业决策,希望对大家也能有所帮助。最后一点建议:如果你有时间来慢慢梳理整个项目,请一定要这样做。只要别错过机会,针对某个项目多做些准备几乎不会带来什么不利影响。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    审稿:李翔

    This post is in partnership with Entrepreneur. The article below was originally published at Entrepreneur.com.

    To do, or not to do — that is the question. Business leaders get paid big bucks to make smart, informed decisions about whether or not to take the plunge on a potential venture, yet there is no science or advice anyone can offer that will help new entrepreneurs to make similar choices.

    Such decisions could never be programmed into a computer. It’s more like sitting on a jury: All reasonable doubt must be removed before you can pass a verdict one way or the other. (Thankfully, though, corporate decisions seldom involve matters of life and death!) That said, I have found that a few general rules often help me to arrive at a decision within the appropriate timeframe about whether to approve a project.

    For me, first impressions always matter a great deal, but I don’t let that thought process influence my decision-making when it comes to business matters. I’ve learned that even when an idea immediately strikes you as a really good one, you must push aside that first reaction and carefully and objectively weigh the potential new business’s pros and cons. If no significant cons come to mind when you first evaluate an idea, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Almost every startupencounters unforeseen problems, so be sure to devote a lot of time to figuring out what they are and assessing solutions before you move forward — if you learn of a major problem after the launch, you’ll be in a much worse position to deal with it.

    This kind of caution becomes doubly important if everyone on your team is unanimously in favor of going ahead with a project. No idea is perfect, so be on your guard and work hard at exposing the hidden problem areas. Find and address them, and you’ll only build a better business. Avoid making a decision in isolation about whether to launch a venture: You must also consider how the project will affect the overall functioning of your company. Every choice you make as an entrepreneur will impact, to some degree, your ability to explore future opportunities — this is what the experts call the “decision stream.”

    You might feel that the venture you’re considering might be too good to pass up, but you have to keep in mind how it will affect your other projects down the road. If it appears that now is not be the best time to move forward, consider what risks, if any, there would be in putting the venture on hold for an agreed-upon length of time. In those situations where you cannot take on a project because another is waiting in the wings, think about why one should get the nod and the other not, and what that says about your priorities.

    Finally, do everything you can to limit your exposure to risk — protect the downside. Wise investors go to great lengths to limit their potential losses when it comes to stock portfolios, and you should employ a similar strategy when setting up a new business.

    For example, when I was starting up Virgin Atlantic, the only way I got my business partners at Virgin Records to begrudgingly accept the risks involved in running a new airline was by getting Boeing to agree to buy back our 747 airliner after a year if things didn’t work out as we’d hoped. Ever since then, whenever we are looking into starting up a giant, capital-intensive venture like Virgin Galactic or our upcoming Virgin Cruises, our team always spends a lot of time finding inventive ways to protect the downside.

    These are just a few tips that I have used to help me make smart business decisions, and I hope that they will help you too. A final hint: If you have the time to take an approach that involves orchestrated procrastination, then do so. Doing more homework on a project is seldom a bad thing — as long as you don’t let the opportunity pass you by!

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