When to trust your gut feelings in business

When you start working for yourself, there's often no one else around to help or guide you. Left to your own devices, you end up having to make all the decisions yourself and that can be quite daunting.

So with no one else to rely on, how do you make difficult business decisions and ensure you're going down the right path? Sometimes it's a good idea to trust your own gut because being intuitive is often the best way to determine if you're doing the right thing. If something doesn't feel right, why would you do it?

Of course, when you first go freelance you'll make plenty of mistakes and it isn't until you've made those mistakes that you'll become more intuitive. After all, intuition is based on our ability to recognise patterns and interpret cues.

There will be many times when you'll opt for a more rational decision-making process, but you shouldn't ever ignore your own gut feelings as part of that process. So when should you trust your instincts in business? Here are some examples on when you should listen to your own gut...

When you first meet someone

First impressions do count, so be alert, open and analytical of everyone you meet. Of course, you should be warm, friendly and professional as you'll want people to instantly like you. Just be very aware of other people's body language and try to read between the lines of what they're saying. If something doesn't feel right, and you don't like someone, there's probably a reason why.

When you're considering a new partnership

In business, there are very few people you can trust. Those quality characters you do come across in life aren't necessarily as common as you'd like, so be very careful about who you go into business with.

If something doesn't feel right but you've been trying to convince yourself otherwise, then there has to be a rational reason why your gut is telling you to run in the opposite direction. Only if you feel completely happy and comfortable with a situation should you go ahead.

When you're sending work over to a client to approve

If you've got something like a new website design concept or piece of copywriting to show a client for approval and something doesn't feel right, then it's probably wrong. Trust your instinct and spend more time perfecting the project before you seek feedback from your client. Only when you're completely satisfied with your work should you send something across.

When someone phones your office

All sorts of people will call your office number every single day. Always use your intuition. Why is that person calling? Are they legitimate? And if they start to ask questions, consider why they're asking such questions. If something doesn't feel right, then be careful about what you share over the telephone.

When you're considering a new client

After being in business for a while, you should get to a nice, steady level where you can pick and choose who you work with. And that means you should avoid those difficult characters. When meeting potential new clients, always go with your gut. If you're not getting good vibes at this early stage, then it's probably a good indication that they'll be a difficult client to work with.

When you're in a business meeting

Trusting your own instincts can make you very aware of other people's feelings. Having a strong intuition can therefore give you a great head start when it comes to business meetings. Learning to understand how to deal with others and tune into their feelings will make you a savvy entrepreneur. After all, business is just people working together and if you're a great person to work with, you'll only be a success.

Those are just a few examples of when your gut feeling might become useful in business. But how do you develop your intuition? How do you become better at avoiding bad people, complicated situations and making poor business decisions?

The best way to develop your intuition is to start listening to your own feelings. Think of a time when you absolutely knew something was right or wrong and you listened to that feeling. Consider this... how did you know? How did you feel in your body? Was there a voice? Did your stomach do a flip? It sounds ridiculous but to develop your gut instincts, you have to learn to recognise the way your body and mind responds to those feelings. That way, you'll get better at relying on your own hunches.

There are many that would say you can't solely rely on your gut feelings and I would agree. But they shouldn't be taken lightly or indeed ignored. Get into the habit of trusting your own gut feelings in all sorts of business scenarios and you'll find that over time you will become much better at making the right decisions.

By having a strong intuition, you'll also be more emotionally intelligent and therefore able to build instant rapport with almost anyone you meet. You'll also become aware of other people's feelings and be able to tune into them to your advantage.

When to trust your gut feelings in business? All the time, that's when! But just make sure you combine it with some rational decision-making and you'll be well on your way to success.