Many businesses operate on the premise of a reactive strategy. When a competitor innovates or does something to make themselves more attractive to the target audience, other companies are left playing catch-up. This reactionary technique may be useful in keeping pace with a competitor, but it has many shortcomings. The most obvious one is that it keeps the business from properly innovating in its industry.
Thus, for a business to present a more potent challenge to its competitors, it needs to innovate. Proactive business strategies are ideal for helping companies develop new techniques to make their products and services more attractive to consumers. Here, 12 members of Forbes Business Council examine how businesses could pivot from a reactive to a proactive strategy.
1. Identify Core Values And Purpose
Identify your core values and your purpose as an organization. When both of those are clear, you are able to use them as a guiding mechanism to make good decisions about the growth of your business with greater confidence. – Jaime Taets, Keystone Group International
2. Know Your Ideal Client
Knowing your ideal client is essential. Your ideal client may be different than your competitor’s ideal client. Knowledge is power. Once you know your ideal client you can consistently focus on attracting and retaining them. For instance, it’s a well-known fact that women are key decision makers in purchasing. Women do not like to be sold to in the pushy car salesman style. Women also value reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations when making a decision. It would be in a company’s best interest to know this and adapt their communication style to their audience, not their competitor. – Angela Delmedico, Elev8 Consulting Group
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3. Leverage Product Vision And Feedback
Companies should develop based on product vision and customer feedback rather than competitive benchmarks. But your products must also sell and improve incrementally. By really listening to your customer needs and product feedback, you can iterate in line with what’s relevant to your individual business, generating revenue and helping scale to produce an innovation machine beyond the competition. – Joshua Levin, OpenInvest
4. Use Data
Use data to predict future trends. Entrepreneurs can use historical data about their business and their customers—in particular their behaviors, interests and demographics—to predict and forecast future events and trends. These trends will allow entrepreneurs to be more proactive and take actions that will optimize innovation and creativity to achieve desired outcomes. – Judy Sahay, Crowd Media Group
5. Set Trends
I always say that following trends is never enough. If you want your business to be of real value, you should set trends instead of following the ones set by other companies. It is challenging and requires a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. – Vladyslav Savchenko, Powercode
6. Focus On Your Deeper Convictions
It starts by focusing on the deeper convictions that led you to start the business in the first place. Steve Jobs loved great design and hated anything that was complex or cumbersome. He didn’t create products based on competitive standards; he made stuff that he personally cared about. Start with your internal convictions and you’re on the right path. – Kelly O’Keefe, Brand Federation
7. Create The Right Structure
Structure is everything! My team creates systems and methodologies in our approach to new assignments that act as guidelines. These guidelines allow us to selectively customize our service based on our clients’ needs while maintaining consistent, proactive service. – Jill Strickman, GENUINE: The Real People Company
8. Articulate What Is Unique About You
Articulate what is unique about your business. What is the key differentiator, the secret sauce or the thing you do better than anyone else? Then, no matter what your competitors do, be proactive about continuing to promote and develop that strength. – Vatsal Shah, Litmus
9. Look Outside Your Industry
Look outside your industry to identify innovative actions being used by businesses in other industries. Determine how their innovative business strategy can be adjusted to work in your business. – Michelle Wade, Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A.
10. Get Uncomfortable
I work with many large companies that read all the same books, go to the same conferences and hire the same consultants. Although they try to perfect the best practices of their industry, many end up with better sameness. The goal is to seek better difference, but this requires deviating from the normal way of doing business and taking risks. If you’re not uncomfortable, it’s probably not innovative. – Kevin Ervin Kelley, Shook Kelley
11. Encourage Curiosity And Fearlessness
Proactivity requires foresight, and foresight requires imagination and fearlessness. To create a culture filled with proactivity, leaders need to encourage their employees to remain curious and fearless. Ensure that they are not afraid of the consequences linked to the failure of an innovative idea that they championed. As long as everyone learns from mistakes made, innovation can flourish. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5
12. Be Assertive, Not Impulsive
A reactive person works out of impulsiveness, not assertiveness. To stop being reactive, it is appropriate to practice actions based on self-control. Not responding immediately to complex issues is the best way to begin the move favorably from reactivity to proactivity. Take a break, think about the benefits this action will generate and then execute to see the results. – Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media