Reactive business owners will always have reactive businesses; when the economy slumps, so will their revenue. Proactive business leadership, however, can contain the impact of market fluctuations, and carry the additional advantages of: a stable cash flow, flexibility in plans for operational improvements, increased marketing impact and readiness for growth. Here are five steps to thinking and leading proactively.
1. Get a handle on your time.
Developing solid time management skills doesn’t start the first time you’re able to leave your business at a reasonable hour; it requires commitment. How do you get better at it? For starters, spend five minutes at the end of each day to review: What decisions did you make? How long did it take you to make them? How did you prioritize what do you need to do tomorrow?
2. Trust your people.
Good employees like to rise to a challenge and are happier when they have some autonomy. Your job is to empower them to address problems on their own. Trusting your employees is a decision you make, not a feeling you have. You may feel nervous, but it’s a critical step in your business’ development to, for instance, let your parts manager handle the inventory.
Once you start assuming—and expecting—the best, not the worst, from your employees, you’ll likely get it.
3. Make better decisions.
Problems with more than one solution arise every day. To make smarter business decisions, ask these two questions every time:
a) Will Process X (or Product X) work for us right now with our current capacity?
b) Will Process X (or Product X) help us in the future?
If the answer to either is “no”, pause and evaluate; ideally, you want solutions that will work for both your present and future business.
4. Handle your fear.
Fear in and of itself is not bad. In a business environment, fear can cause you to miss out on key growth opportunities or process improvements, simply because they’re not guaranteed to work. Maybe it’s an investment in new software, or taking on additional staff.
To handle fear, choose success over survival. Evaluate each “threat” as objectively as you can with a checklist, a list of pros and cons and, when possible, seek the advice of an financial expert.