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Be Proactive Not Reactive

Management-be prepared to make things happen

How often do we hear that we should be more proactive and wonder how we could possibly be more proactive than we already are?

In this article I would like to explore the ways in which we are reactive and the ways in which we can turn that around to be truly proactive.   Unfortunately there are many ways in which we can and should be proactive that get turned around on us and called “pushy”.  To be proactive means to control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one, in other words to be the cause of things.  Webster’s dictionary defines proactive as acting in anticipation of future problems, needs or changes.  To be reactive means to act in response to something or to be the effect of something.  It is critical in our businesses that we make things happen and therefore create the effects we want.  That means we need to be proactive, to start the ball rolling, so that we can be cause of the state of our businesses and the results we achieve.

Some examples of being proactive might include the areas of marketing, sales, production or finance. For marketing that might include doing direct marketing and reaching out to our previous clients. This would be anticipating a future change; for example the client may need additional work. The reactive thinking on this is the viewpoint that my clients know I’m here and will call me if they are interested. Unfortunately, this is just not the case. It puts you at effect, rather than cause over your marketing. Clients often tell me that they are very surprised at the positive responses they get from simply reaching out to their clients. Of course direct marketing does not mean only communicating to your clients. There are many venues for direct marketing; the important thing is that you are proactive and reach out.

Being proactive often means being prepared. This is especially applicable to sales and production. In sales, it means anticipating the client’s need for reassurance. It means giving a potential client references or testimonials before they ask. It means recommending that the potential client call some of your references before you meet with them. It means having all the information you may need to answer a prospect’s questions. In the production arena being proactive means anticipating future problems. There are many ways you can be proactive, starting with making sure the crew really understands what they will be doing for the day or week. The common occurrence of multiple trips to a supply house is really a symptom of being reactive. Unfortunately all instances of being reactive rather than proactive cost you time and money.

Financial planning, whether it is weekly, monthly, yearly or long term planning is an area where it is critical to be proactive. Unfortunately so many people think it is impossible to be cause over this area. Some examples of financial planning include establishing clear payment plans for your services, having collection procedures in place and doing regular weekly income plans. Your weekly income plan can be as simple as creating a projection of what you will sell or collect this week. In doing such a plan, if you see that you will fall short, then that means you need to look beyond the obvious.