A proactive company is one that places greater emphasis on forward-thinking strategic planning as opposed to reactive strategies to deal with problems or to approach opportunities as they arise. Being proactive offers a business a lot of advantages when approaching business opportunities and managing problems.
Strategic planning is a communication and decision-making process that proactive managers typically undergo at least once a year. Planning includes setting operational objectives, making long-term strategic decisions and assessing the company's current strengths and weaknesses and long-term opportunities and threats. Regular strategic planning is a common quality of a proactive company as it includes a broad look at the company's current position and how to best position it for the future.
Predicting the Future
Accurately predicting future opportunities and threats for a business is impossible. But it is possible to make reasonably effective projections based on thorough analysis. Proactive company managers more effectively plan for potential problems, market evolutions and trends and consumer expectations before they develop. This gives them a greater ability to put systems, infrastructure and employees in place to address these issues and opportunities as they arise. Proactive marketing, for instance, researches and recognizes emerging customer desires and preferences before the broad market has become aware of them. This allows proactive companies to lead in new product development and marketing.
The positive side of being proactive is the ability to take advantage of opportunities where your company's strengths align with marketplace developments. New innovations, technological advances, societal movements and changing customer perceptions and needs all contribute to potential opportunities to grow a business. The benefit of being proactive is that you recognize, plan for and invest in new opportunities before it's too late. Some market opportunities have narrow windows. Netflix famously recognized the emergence of mail order DVDs and streaming movie rental technology while former movie rental giant Blockbuster was more reactive and ultimately lost out on much of the movement to new ways of renting movies.
Threats seem to have a more negative vibe as a topic of discussion, but proactive companies also realize the need to stave off pending or future threats. Fast food restaurants, for instance, began adding more nutritional items like salads, fruit and yogurt to their menus in response to societal demands for healthier alternatives. Environmental, economic and regulatory threats can all potentially damage or wipe out a company that is not proactive. Being aware of economic changes and new laws that affect your business helps you work around or plan alternative business strategies before the threats become fully realized.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.