Critical Thinking and Small Businesses


We can all agree critical thinking skills are essential when working in or running a business. Do we know what that means, though? What do we mean when we talk about critical thinking skills? In this article, we will break down some of those skills are, how they help, and how we can improve upon them.

What is critical thinking?

The definition of critical thinking varies depending on the topic it’s being used for. Still, a general consensus is that critical thinking is using your ability to gather knowledge, analyze situations and problems, and make informed decisions to reach a desired goal. The use of the term “critical thinking” dates back to around 1910 to an American Philosopher named John Dewey, who typically referred to the concept as “reflective thinking”.

It began to be implemented in many schools as an educational goal by the 1930s. Successful critical thinkers tend to have a wide range of habits that help them, such as being confident in their skills, a desire to seek truth above anything else, an inquisitive nature, and an open mind.

What are the aspects of critical thinking?

There are many different aspects of critical thinking. Let's take a look at some examples and how we can improve our skills in those areas:

1. Ask questions.

Asking questions about topics related to or part of your current situation is key to getting a well-rounded and informed view of what’s going on. Sometimes you may feel like you might be asking too many questions, but don’t let that get to you.

The only way you can fully understand anything is if you ask questions. Ask as many as you can whenever you can. The best questions you can ask for better understanding are open-ended questions like “who,” “what,” and “why” questions. Channel your inner child and ask away!

2. Effective communication.

Communicating effectively allows you to make sure the information you have on situations isn’t misconstrued and allows others you interact with to have a clear and concise understanding of what goal is trying to be accomplished.

3. Gathering information relevant to the situation.

This goes hand-in-hand with asking questions but takes it a step further. It’s important to gather as much information as possible, but it's even more important to ensure the information you are getting is relevant to your situation.

And information overload that has little relevance to the problem at hand will do nothing but hinder your ability to think clearly about your goals.

4. Unbiased thinking.

One thing that can end up hindering people’s ability to think critically is the biases people have towards different things. There are many ways you can avoid bias when making decisions. Some ways you can go about making sure you are making choices with as little bias as you can is to be aware of what your biases are, practice separating yourself from the situation at hand, and keep an open mind as you learn new information that could go against what you already know.

5. Be considerate of other views and possible solutions.

This can be seen as an extension of avoiding biased ways of thinking. Being aware of the different ways to view situations and keeping your mind open to different outcomes is key to making sure you go about problem-solving different things the best way.

Check out these articles for more information on improving your critical thinking skills.

13 Easy Steps To Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

How to Build Your Critical Thinking Skills in 7 Steps

How to apply critical thinking in your business

Knowing the skills needed to be a great critical thinker is one thing.

Applying them to your business and working with your team is another ballgame. Critical thinking is one of the top 5 desired skills in job listings, meaning it’s something people need to know how to implement in their jobs. As business owners, we need to hire people that understand and think critically.

Let's look at a situation where critical thinking is important.

Critical thinking with customer interactions

Mastering critical-thinking skills when you interact with consumers and clients is important because you can lose or gain traffic to your business through your interactions with current consumers.

Let's say a customer comes to your business and voices a problem with their experience with you and your business. In this instance, you want to do whatever you can to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse and put your business at risk of harming its reputation, losing this customer, or losing future customers due to negative repercussions.

As a business owner, you may have a knee-jerk reaction to defend it. If you instantly react to this, you run the risk of responding emotionally, not critically, and this can damage your reputation as a business with this customer, who could then go online and post a negative review of the interaction. This could further damage the reputation your business has with the community.

Instead, take a moment to collect your thoughts.

Communicate with the customer to find what made them feel negatively about their interaction with the business. Doing this lets you work with the customer to find a solution to the problem and give them a more positive view of the business. In turn, they may share the positive experience with others and improve the business’s reputation. Not only will this help the customer, but this will also allow you insight into something that other customers may or may not have had experiences with, and it can help you put together a plan on how to avoid the issues in the future.

For more information on how critical thinking can help your business, check out these articles:

• Why Critical Thinking Matters in Your Business

• Examples of Using Critical Thinking to Make Decisions in the Workplace

We hope you learned how to implement critical thinking skills into your business and how to improve upon the skills you already use. For more tips on using critical thinking within your business, contact Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses, and we’d be more than happy to help!