Are You A Proactive Or Reactive Small Business Owner?
You don’t have to let your day run you. YOU have to be the CEO and run your business according to your life and your priorities. It's all about focus and mindfulness - plus being willing to try new systems and ways of being productive.
Wherever you are in the year - don’t panic! It’s always a good time to assess what’s working and what’s not in your business - and mid-year is as good of an excuse as any.
Read on to see if you do some of the most common things that make you a reactive entrepreneur, and how you can become more proactive little by little.
For most of my adult life, I have been in a position that was far more reactive-based than proactive. I started my career in law enforcement at 21 years old - an "industry" that by nature reacts to the situation presented.
A crime was committed, I was called, I assessed and responded to the situation, interviewed subjects and witnesses, took people to jail, and filed reports about the evidence of what had already happened. On the occasions that a "proactive" investigation was developed, it was still based in knowledge and information that had transpired, with the aim of catching criminals during future unlawful acts.
Fast-forward to 2011, and I began to volunteer for the band Megadeth as a Facebook moderator. While I was eventually able to be creatively proactive with contests, campaign ideas, and the overall social media strategy - the bulk of my time was spent deleting spam and belligerent comments and reacting to the never ending flood hateful interweb trolls.
Now as a small business owner working from home, I create my workflow and services for clients in the way that I choose. While my business allows me to be very proactive in creating what I am offering for sale - if I'm not careful I can easily slip into the daily minutiae of reacting to how the day unfolds.
Maintaining my productive creativity, while getting administrative tasks done, requires a level of mindfulness, tools, and accountability.
Here are the ways in which most small business owners (including myself) spiral into reactive-mode:
Checking email first thing in the morning.
Responding to emails immediately.
Having audible or obvious phone notifications.
Checking your phone every 5 minutes to see if you have notifications.
Checking social media platforms (ahem...Facebook) constantly.
Not taking restorative breaks during the day.
Taking phone calls that are not scheduled.
Not knowing what the day's priorities are.
Having distractions such as music or TV during mental tasks.
Responding to last-minute client requests.
Ok, so does the above list hit home for you? If I really sat here and thought about it, I could probably come up with several more examples - but I think you get the picture.
You are reactive if you are led through your day without purpose or mindfulness in your work. You are simply getting through it.
Since I am never going to give you a problem without a solution, here is a list of the ways in which I am proactive with my day and my business:
I start with writing out the top 3 priorities for the day.
I "theme" my days: Monday is for marketing, Tuesday is for client work, Wednesday is for content/blogging, etc.
I only check email first thing to see if there are any immediate client needs (it is a rare occasion that a client request cannot wait) - all other emails wait.
I take regular breaks where I stand up and get my blood moving and stretch.
I take a 20-minute nap almost every day.
I eat lunch away from my computer.
I have scheduled times that I respond to emails.
I have scheduled days that I meet with current and prospective clients.
With rare exception, I do not take phone calls from clients unless they are scheduled.
I regularly take the time to read and educate myself for pleasure and for work.
Are you seeing a pattern here?
Priorities, schedules and checklists.
This might seem super constrictive and neurotic to you, but let me explain a little further...
I do not time block my calendar (as in, every day at 9 am I check email) - I find that to be too much and life inevitably gets in the way.
A system that is doomed to fall off the tracks will make you give it up entirely, knocking you back to square one.
Instead, I “theme” my days to allow for both flexibility and structure.
For example, Mondays are for marketing my content, Tuesdays are for client work, Wednesdays are for websites and engagement, etc.
Make a list of all the big umbrella tasks, or buckets, and plug those into your work days.
When I sit down to plan my week and do admin tasks (Sundays for me), I look at my list of to-do’s and plug them into whichever day that category falls under.
The more I fine-tune and reevaluate my systems, the better they work. Life changes constantly, so making sure your system still fits your evolving business needs is essential.
While I am pretty good at not letting my day run me, I am still working on how best to align my business with me values and goals.
A huge part of this has been realizing that my previous services and clients were not the best fit.
I have spent almost a year pivoting my business to focus solely on Pinterest Marketing + Squarespace Design.
Not only have these services shown the best ROI for my clients, but they have been the best ROI for me and my lifestyle. Read more about that business shift and how I did it.
In the Free Rockstar Membership for Pinterest PowerUp I have a Google Sheet where you can plan out and plug in your theme days and ideal work week.
Want (ok, NEED) a whole bunch of Pinterest marketing know-how, mixed with some great entrepreneur tips? Pinterest PowerUp is a membership community for online entrepreneurs and the only Pinterest marketing resource you will ever need for your business!
Hey hey, I'm Cara - Pinterest marketing evangelist and lover of all things Squarespace website design. I team up with online entrepreneurs to get tons of website traffic into sales funnels (marketing speak for getting eyeballs on your website and turning them into customers).
Click the button below to get in touch!