Posted: Mon 10th Jun 2013
Being proactive means being prepared to handle unforeseen obstacles and issues before they happen, writes Kelly. For those entrepreneurs rolling their eyes, we understand your angst. The dynamic variables that affect your business are hard to predict and may seem even harder to prepare for. Luckily, by zeroing in on certain aspects of your collective whole you can train your outlook and behaviour to pack some proactive punch. Here are four elements of your business that you really need to be proactive with if you're going to run a strong and sustainable enterprise:
Your customers are the past, present and future of your business.Â Be proactive with your customers by consistently delivering what they want.Â If you're not sure what they want, then foster some communicative opportunities to ask them. In addition to engaging on social media, strive to make personal connections with familiar faces. Getting to know your best customers will give you insight into how to keep them (and how to get other customers) coming back for more. Your efforts should not stop with the customers whose attention you already have; work on proactively re-engaging those you may be close to losing. Proactively plan for mistakes and complaints by having a reliable, satisfying customer service policy in place.Â Also, if possible, offer an upfront guarantee. Your proactive efforts can also take form in checking up on your competitors. Use their tactics as a blueprint for new places that your business's products and services can offer customers additional value.
For employees, the lessons of being proactive ironically come about when mistakes are made. If you have employees, train them to be proactive by giving them the room to experiment and the freedom to make reasonable mistakes. When mistakes do happen, having a powwow and regrouping is key. Ask your employees questions like, 'In hindsight, what would you have done differently?' and 'What proactive plans do you now have in place for next time?' By taking the time to coach your employees in this manner, they will become conditioned to take flight more often until eventually they naturally soar on their own. Depending on the job, you might also consider requesting that employees send you a quick follow-up email at the end of their week highlighting their high and low points and plans for when they return on Monday. This will allow you to stay in the loop without hovering over your employees and the insight will give you a jumpstart on delegations for the week ahead.
Running a business can be exhausting, so work on being proactive about your health and overall wellbeing. Measures like yoga or acupunctureÂ can naturally eliminate the repercussions of chronic stress. In addition to proper sleep and nutrition, be willing to set limits. Unplug and find a balance with activities outside of work. On the flip side, be proactive about your workload. Procrastination will only add to stress and anxiety. Instead, set benchmark goals to reach each day. Attack your most tedious tasks first and timeline your week to help you stay on track.
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. However, you would serve your business's future well by keeping an eye on the horizon. What are your goals for the long term? Having a clear understanding of where your business stands and where it wants to be will help you keep your focus. Such an approach will come in handy when trends and industry changes inevitably shift, and as a result, impact on your efforts.Â If you can keep a clear focus on the big picture, it will be easier to flow with the dynamic variables affecting your niche. What other areas of your business could benefit from a proactive approach? Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider to US and Canadian businesses. You can read herÂ daily business blog here.
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