Should You Rely on Your Gut or Your Data to Grow Your Business?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 16, 2017

If you’re looking to significantly grow your business and (perhaps) turn your industry on it’s head, you’re probably torn between what you can verify with data and what you feel in your gut is the way things are going to unfold.

Which is the right way to go? Do you trust your data or do you go with your gut? Here’s a big surprise . . . it may be a combination of both!

Steve Jobs is still considered by many to be a master of “going with the gut.” That’s not to say that he ignored data, but he seemed to have the innate (read that as “gut level”) ability to recognize trends and desires in the market before they actually happened.

Here’s the thing: You may not possess Steve’s ability to predict where the market is going and come up with ideas that will turn the world on it’s head. But that doesn’t mean your “gut instincts” aren’t valuable. You just may be onto something!

It’s said that Albert Einstein had a sign hanging in his offices that read: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Even a scientific genius like Einstein recognized that data sometimes has its limits. He certainly didn’t dismiss the collection and analysis of data—but he appeared to acknowledge that that there was something more out there.

So how do you move forward when you have an idea that might be good? How do you listen to your gut without ignoring the data? I’d suggest that you take the counsel of another historical figure from the 1980s—Ronald Reagan—who famously said (with regard to the relationships with Soviet Union at that time): “Trust but verify.”

What exactly does that look like?

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, it means taking the best of both worlds. Trust your gut. If you have a strong gut feeling about a course of action, there is probably something behind that feeling. Pursue it! Explore it! But as you do, make sure you test your idea—and that you have the right tools on hand to measure what’s important.