With or without metrics, how you make decisions is extremely important to success. Understanding your customers, their needs and how you can best meet those needs provides enough solid foundations for a successful business.

Starting a business is a mix of fun and anxiety-inducing. Some might say it’s a hell of a risk. Other might say it’s definitely the right thing to do. Regardless of your personal views, a business is a very personal endeavor, with hours spent engaging with each of your customers and prospects. It’s important to appreciate those people for a life of sharing their heart and soul with the world. Just imagine how this engaging bond changes the hearts of each and every one of the people who experiences it.

But sometimes, less is more. It can help to define those essential qualities that become as much a part of your business, as the quality of your goods or services.

It’s possible to make good, effective decisions with a bit of insight and humility, knowing that intuition and gut-feel are the key ingredients for success.

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Furthermore, this decision-making process only gets easier with numbers. For example, I’m a scientist, and I can use not just scientific terms, but also numerical terms to help me make decisions.

So, when crunching numbers, knowing what you want is only a start. Take the time to look at the numbers itself, to try to understand what the decision means. Consider its implications. And perhaps the most valuable thing to know is your own judgment–your own reasons and what you think is right and wrong.

Put these numbers into context. Put it into an equation.

The more quantifiable something is, the more you can use the numbers for practical business use. For example, understanding market segmentation can make a big difference. At the risk of another fuzzy example, we all know the difference between “How much is enough?” versus “What’s the right amount?” There are only a few basic rule of thumb products out there that you can usually count on.

When you work with marketing materials, it makes sense to make it relevant for your own company, to have a much better understanding of what you’re communicating and why. When you’re gauging what your product is worth, know what it’s worth to everyone who makes their lives more difficult by using it as a way to avoid applying proven behavioral norms, or you will act on the wrong information and make wrong decisions.

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There are so many types of business, so few clear business rules. We’re looking for exceptions that make it easy for us to find the ones that work for our needs, regardless of their consistency across businesses. The best situation is when there are too many rules, and too few guidance, and you end up with conflicting choices.

Investing time in evaluating costs and probabilities, deciding what you really want, and how you should go about acquiring it, is usually the best way to use the information that you’re given. In fact, if a piece of information lacks the number you require, you might want to stop reading and look into some other option that may be more productive for you.

– Alex Bullard

Forbes and Alex Bullard are both based in New York City. Bullard is a first-time author and public speaker, and Forbes, in conjunction with The Huffington Post, will cover all proceeds of his book.

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