How Being Proactive vs. Reactive Can Help You In Every Business

“Be proactive.”

If you had a proverbial cent for every time you heard this advice, you’d probably be retired on a beach in the Maldives right now instead of reading this. But what does that word have to do with business strategy?

A lot, actually. A proactive business strategy can make a huge difference from most people’s default, which is a reactive strategy.

Proactive vs. Reactive 

Here’s the difference. A reactive strategy means you will only deal with problems as they arise. A proactive strategy means you’ve tried to prepare for different challenges in advance.

Real-World Examples

Example 1: Let’s say you run an accounting firm, and one of your clients asks for a recommendation for an investment banker. Do you:

  1. Scramble and Google “investment bankers near me”?
  2. Have a prepared list of investment bankers (and other related business)?

If you said 1, that’s a reactive strategy. You’re waiting for things to happen, and then reacting.

If you said 2, that’s a proactive strategy. You’ve taken the time in advance to predict the needs and wants of your clients, and you’ve already created a potential solution.

Example 2: Imagine you’re an HR company, and a new potential client asks to see references before they hire you. Do you:

  1. Frantically start calling past clients to see if they will give you a reference?
  2. Have a list of references on your website or in a PDF document ready to send?

Just like the first example, 1 is reactive and 2 is proactive.

Guess What? This Strategy Is Not Just For Businesses

You don’t have to wait until you own or run a business before you utilize this savvy strategy.

By practicing a proactive business strategy in your daily work routine, you train yourself to anticipate the needs of not just your employer, but your customers, too.

And you know what? Your employer will notice. If you’re constantly ready with solutions when problems arise, it should make a good impression. And at the very least, it will prepare you to start thinking like a boss.

How to be proactive?

Think ahead about what challenges could occur or what you might need to perform well. Then, start working now on the tools, resources, or knowledge you need for when that day comes. For example: do you predict that certain parts for your machinery business are going to be hard to source? Start looking for alternatives now.