Part III of our Gain Freedom in Business series of blog posts is all about adopting a proactive mindset and business approach so you have more control over how and where you devote your time and energy. All too often, we find ourselves constantly reacting in our day-to-day. This is as true of entrepreneurs and small business owners as it is for those who are employed by others.
One of the things that many of my entrepreneurial clients tell me drove them to branch out and start their own business was the ability to have more control over their work and, consequently, their lives. They were tired of being on someone else’s schedule, responding to someone else’s priorities. The trouble is, if you don’t take steps to be proactive, it’s very easy to fall back into reactive mode, even when you’re in business for yourself.
What does it mean to be proactive? It means taking control of situations, making things happen, and being forward-facing. This is in contrast to reactivity in which you simply respond or react to things that come your way. Being in reactive mode is very limiting. You are constantly responding, never in control, and may feel like you are stuck, never advancing. It’s a stressful way to operate and a terrible way to run your business.
Entrepreneurs by their very nature are proactive. At some point, they chose to make a decision to go into business for themselves. They did not sit around waiting for an opportunity to fall into their laps, instead they saw a need or problem, developed a solution, and decided to make a business out of it. Many entrepreneurs demonstrate characteristics that we commonly associate with proactivity such as:
- Preparedness and Planning
- Conscious Decision-Making
The key is to maintain those characteristics as your business develops and expands and apply them to the way the business operates. Proactive businesses generally experience a competitive advantage because they are continually looking for ways to improve the business or better serve their customers. They are not afraid of change and make decisions readily to continue moving the business forward. This puts them ahead of the game when change occurs. While competitors are busy reacting, the proactive business is already set-up and ready to go, supporting customers.
3 Ways To Maintain A Proactive Business Strategy
- Take time to keep tabs on your business environment for signs of change or shifts in consumer demand. This can help you anticipate changes in your industry and avoid being caught by surprise. Just make sure you respond appropriately before crisis hits to position yourself to weather the change.
- Use the data you’ve obtained and analyzed to plan for the future. Take a long-range view. Don’t be tempted by short-term gain at the expense of long-term loss. Consider the long-term effect your decisions will have on you, your customers, your employees, and your business. Remember that what you do today impacts your future success.
- Take Action. The very definition of being proactive is to take action. Be ready to implement your plan. Don’t procrastinate on decision-making; you will end up backed into a corner with little choices left to you. Make a decision and follow through on it. Having done your analysis and planning already you should feel comfortable with the action you’ve decided on and the steps needed to get there.
- Plan ahead. Anything that can be planned and scheduled ahead of time should be completed as far in advance as possible. For example, my blog and e-mail articles are written and scheduled months in advance. I usually have my entire year of promotions and content planned out a year in advance.
By analyzing situations, planning responses, and taking action, proactive businesses are able to adapt to changing environments and consumer demands. They can visualize potential obstacles or problems and find ways to overcome them. It’s a very empowering and effective way to run a business because you’re in control; you decide what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do, and how it’s going to get done.
Being a proactive business owner really means maintaining your inherent entrepreneurial spirit and letting it guide you. Don’t let the day-to-day of running a business overshadow what got you to this point in the first place. It’s those entrepreneurial characteristics that got you where you are today and will sustain your success in the years to come.
Up Next: Gain Freedom Through Outsourcing
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