Have you felt overwhelmed, overworked, and constantly confused about where you’re headed? Are you constantly handing new ideas to your team before they’ve even finished the last one? Are you trying so many new things that you don’t know what’s actually working?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might be running your business in reactive mode rather than proactive mode.
- Reactive mode is when you just “go with the flow.” When you don’t have a plan, you just react to what comes your way and deal with it when it does. When you’re constantly steering the ship towards the next exciting thing rather than in a constant direction. Your emotions drive your decisions rather than data, planning, and preparation.
- Proactive mode is when you take the time to consider what you want, lay out a plan, and prepare as much as possible for each step that is coming your way. When you’re clear on the destination and don’t deviate from the path to get there (within reason of course). When you’re basing your decision on data, analytics, and direction rather than emotion.
We all start our businesses in reactive mode – it’s just a natural part of starting a business.
When you start a business, you begin in the start-up/survival stage. Everything is about throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, experimenting on what works for you, and proving your business model. You might have an idea of what you’re doing, who your ideal customer is, and what your long-term goals are.
All those things require you to be reactive – you have to learn to fail fast! Being reactive in this stage is crucial as it means learning from feedback so you can adjust and shift your business towards growth.
Once you find your mojo, you move out of the start-up/survival stage into the growth stage. You’ve proven that your business model works – people are buying what you are offering, and you’re starting to build a foundation to do more.
Ideally, if you’re in the growth stage, you’re also shifting HOW you’re doing things – shifting from reactive to proactive. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants, you start to plan ahead. Instead of thinking about each day or each week’s plans, you start to think about the months and years. You start to think about and define the direction you want to head in.
This shift in thinking is crucial for healthy business growth. Not shifting from reactive mode to proactive mode causes A LOT of issues for entrepreneurs at this stage of growth. It can cause a quick turnover, loss of clients, loss of opportunity, burnout, and loss of passion. Yikes!
But part of the problem is that many people aren’t sure exactly why they are struggling, let alone how to fix it! Double yikes.
Don’t worry if this is you; you’re not alone. Shifting to proactive mode is still possible! Here are a few things to think about if you’re not sure about moving to proactive mode:
It is easier to be reactive in the moment.
Old habits die hard – especially if you’ve been operating that way for years. Remember that just because it is easier to go with the flow and respond to what is in front of you doesn’t mean it makes things easier in the long run. Taking the time to prepare and plan ahead may be front-end heavy but will continue to have positive effects long past the planning stage.
Reactive mode can feel “good enough.”
It is easy to get comfortable staying in reactive mode, especially when things are going pretty well. Many of my clients were stuck here for years. They were making decent money and enjoying their work for the most part. But it really wasn’t by design, and eventually, they realized they didn’t want to just accept what came their way; they wanted to create work they wanted to do (which requires planning).
Reactive mode can be fun and exciting.
I get it. There is a rush that comes from the energy of “go go go!!!” when you are in reactive mode. It can be draining and frustrating but also exciting to get up each day not knowing what will come your way. For some, tackling the unexpected and coming out on top can be very fulfilling. But this mode isn’t a sustainable business model.
Reactive mode affects everyone in your business.
When you are in reactive mode, it forces your team to always be in reactive mode as well – continually scrambling to catch up, always putting out fires, and trying to get things done correctly and on time.
Reactive mode can hinder new opportunities.
When in reactive mode, typically, there isn’t time or space to consider new opportunities until they’re sprung on you. Have you ever said yes to an opportunity and regretted it soon after? Or have you had to say no to opportunities because you don’t have the bandwidth? Reactive mode can keep us at a lower potential unintentionally.
So, are you going to stay in a reactive mode, or are you going to start being proactive? I hope this is an easy answer!
If you’re in reactive mode and it’s causing problems, or you don’t know where to start, let me know! I’d love to help you figure out how you can start being proactive. Any other questions? Let me know; I’m happy to help.
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