Proactive vs reactive, do you know the difference? Proactive means you focus on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear. Reactive means you respond to events after they have happened. Business owners often feel like their business is a closet full of skeletons waiting to jump out and surprise them, constantly fire-fighting.

You may find yourself thinking this is normal for business owners, part of being a startup, and that every entrepreneur deals with a similar reactive pattern. Maybe you have been in business for some time and thought you would “outgrow” being reactive. There are immense challenges associated with starting a new business and effectively running it, so how are you supposed to find time to be more proactive?

Business owners often recognize they need to become more proactive but struggle with how to be proactive. The good news is that you can make a shift to become more proactive and here are my 3 quick tips on how to be proactive vs reactive.

1. Organize According to Your Style

If your business is not properly organized, tasks will pile up, paperwork gets lost, precious time is spent trying to find information that should be readily available, and employees will lack the direction and guidance they need from you as their leader. Everyone will feel like they are spinning their wheels and cannot make progress individually or as a team. Good organizational skills can make or break you as a business owner and, thus, your business. But what I am here to tell you is that there is no one-size fits all answer to organization out there.

With an abundance of organizational tools, strategies, databases, and business coaches with different philosophies and frameworks, it’s no wonder so many business owners cannot investigate fully what their options are and commit to a course of action.

The best advice is to really examine who you are as a person and as a worker. It is why I always start with the Talent Dynamics profile test to help you understand how you are motivated and help you take initiative at work. From there, the goal is to find a system that works for you that you can stick with. Trying to make a system that works for others but not for you will only lead to frustration and leave you spinning your wheels wasting time to try to force an organizational system on yourself that is not right for you.


2. Communicate & Connect

Communication is crucial, but like everything, too much of a good thing can turn out to be a bad thing. Did you know that 60% of companies do not have a long-term strategy for their internal communications and 60% of people face a crisis at least once a month due to communication issues? Here are the top communication problems that can plague a business:

  1. Lack of standards – Every business needs a policy on how, when, and what channels are appropriate for communication.
  2. Communication barriers – Understanding how each of your team members expresses themselves and receives information is crucial for there to be open and clear communication between everyone.
  3. Work and personal communications getting mixed – When you are at work, you are at work. Getting distracted by personal communications slows everyone down.
  4. Lack of clear communication – Training your team members on what information they need to provide upfront to cut down on the number of follow up questions and to make sure there are no misunderstandings or assumptions that can slow work down even more.
  5. Poor listening skills – Training team members to be fully present and attentive when a team member is communicating so they are not distracted. 
  6. Lack of Efficiency – Sometimes a quick call or in person meeting will be more efficient than multiple emails or messages back and forth. Technology is great until it slows us down.

3. Set Personal & Business Goals

Do you set goals for your business? So many business owners do not and failure to set goals stagnates growth. By setting goals, you and your team will be proactive at work by focusing attention on desirable outcomes through long-term vision and short-term motivation.

Goal setting helps you take charge, organize your time and resources to make the most out of every day so you can see how each task you do is moving your business towards its long-term goals. When setting your business goals, they must be SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The four most important questions to ask yourself when setting any goal are as follows:

  1. Where have you been?
  2. Where are you now?
  3. Where do you want to go?
  4. How do you plan to get there? 

We want to learn from the past so we do not repeat it, we need to get a reality check of where we are currently, then set a SMART goal, and finally create a map to know we are headed in the right direction with milestones to assess whether progress is being made towards that big goal in the future.



My 3 quick tips to help your career will assist you take initiative at work and help your business grow. Intrinsic motivation is usually not a quality that is lacking among business owners. What is lacking is understanding who you are and how to organize yourself and your team to set you up for success.

Learning to have the self-awareness to recognize bad habits, and learn to follow good habits is something that a business coach can help with. My name is Ken Kilday of Leader’s Cut and working with me is an interactive process of self-discovery, objective perspective, and advocacy that helps my clients improve self-awareness and realize untapped potential through a safe, confidential, and individualized coaching relationship. Contact me for a 15 minute consultation about coaching to find out how it can help you and your business get to the next level.


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