Proactive vs Reactive Modes in Business
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (84% score)

This post is not specific to SEO or micro niche sites, but it is timely for me right now and if well received I will write some more posts on productivity, lifestyle and business principles.


As an entrepreneur it is extremely important to have a balance between proactive and reactive modes and to always be aware of the shifting balance.   When you’re starting a business up, most of the time you spend is proactive.  You’re building, planning, envisioning.   This is the part that most entrepreneurs love and get addicted to.


Once you have a product in the hands of customers you enter reactive mode.    Every business has a product, every business has customers and every business enters this mode.  In the case of a website this could be managing your content, managing link building, networking, responding to emails and comments, etc.   When you find yourself overcome with lots of reactive tasks you need to take a step back and change the landscape proactively.


I try to spend most of my time in proactive mode.  I enjoy it immensely, though I do recognize the need to react and will shift over if need be.  This is especially the case the first month or so a product hits customers – you need to understand the issues that will come up before you can outsource them.


This last month for me has had me much more reactive than usual.     The blog has been much more popular than I had anticipated –  which of course is a good problem to have – and I became overwhelmed with emails, comments, requests for lists, etc.  I couldn’t do it all, so I stepped back and asked myself the two most important questions in these situations.


Question #1 – Is this worth it?  

This is an important question because if it isn’t you had better get out now – you don’t want to dig yourself into a hole so deep you can’t get yourself out.   I have had many businesses where I didn’t recognize “the Dip” until far too late. (The Dip is Seth Godin’s term from the book of the same name, basically the entire book is summed up in this paragraph and re-iterated 1000 times like most marketing books).   I got attached to the money I had invested or the time I had spent, and just kept throwing good money after bad.


In the case of the blog, I decided it was worth it, as this blog has created a really strong asset for me, which is access to high quality people.  You know — you guys.


Question #2 – How can I outsource/automate and thereby scale this NOW?


Knowing the aforementioned asset, I decided to try a shift in my business model and offer internships to people, giving training and access to my tools in exchange for some work compiling lists (for my own use or to eventually sell), and to setup more sites for us to split.  It’s a win-win.    Hopefully this won’t bite me in the ass, but hey, there’s only one way to find out, right?  Until I do have lists I decided I will not offer lists anymore and just refund all the customers with outstanding orders.   Done.


I see so many businesses fail because the owners did not learn to immediately outsource the reactive work.    This is basically the definition of small business.  I was that guy –  I used to plan everything out and have mile-long todo lists of which I could only cross out 3 or 4 things because of all the daily crap that came up.   Now my only todo is to get two pro-active ideas implemented every day, while making sure the kingdom doesn’t collapse.   My priority though is to do this while living the lifestyle I want to live, not one that is imposed on me by my customers, readers, clients, etc.  Because to me, work is about lifestyle more than anything else.


I hope this post can help you analyze and optimize your own workflow and see how much time you are spending on reactive tasks.   Remember that you are in charge of your lifestyle, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!  Let me know in the comments if these type of posts are helpful, or if I should just stick to SEO :)

Proactive vs Reactive Modes in Business
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (84% score)
  1. This type of post *is* helpful. It’s too easy in this kind of business to get stuck working away at the trees . . . and completely ignoring the forest.

    Hunting for expired domains, for instance, takes time and concentration — but it ultimately is just one process among many that make for a successful business in this field.

    We’ve all got to make sure the little things are being addressed, but we can never lose sight of the big picture.

    Thanks for this. Wise words!

  2. Definitely useful, sometimes it not the technical ability that is holding someone back from success but the mindset and/or their methodology. Great post, thanks for being so candid and sharing as you learn too.

  3. Thanks for these important words. It i’s sometimes great to have such blog like this to reach others. I appreciate your extended expertise and knowledge in this subject. I’m constantly reading and learning :)

  4. I’ve been studying every word from you since I first heard you on the Niche Pursuits podcast. I’m wowed by your content.

    I’ve also been fascinated by the phenomenon of your arrival on the scene. You’ve made quite a splash. I can recognize some of the challenges that brings (the word bombardment comes to mind!).

    It’s been interesting to watch how you respond. The quality of your information won me over to your content. The quality of your reactions has won me over to you as a person. I had been afraid that you might ask yourself whether it is worth it, and decide it’s not. I’m so glad you are in it to stay.

    I hope you will keep your focus here on teaching. I do find your personal and business philosophies and practices interesting and helpful, and I think this type of post should be part of the mix.

    In a very short time you’ve earned a lot of trust, credibility and good will. I have an appreciation for your work and your character, and I think I’m one of many. Thank you Hayden.

  5. Very helpful post for me. Driving to work today I was somewhat overwhelmed by thoughts of all the work I need to do to some older sites that may already be dead. Knowing what to quit on and when is hard.

  6. Hayden,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your posts and watching all of your videos. I’ve been following ever since the podcast you did with Spencer at Niche Pursuits. I was wondering if you could address something. Spencer has his Adsense account closed on him a while back. Is there any chance you could discuss what you do to avoid this, whether it’s using specific layouts, ad designs etc? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks for taking the time to post all of this information. It’s very much appreciated.

  7. A+ information, stuff you won’t learn in the classroom! This is true hustler lifestyle.

    I think this sums it up why a lot of people fail in online business. The game is definitely made not for the weak or extremely hardworking individuals but more so for the lazy and smart. If you are lazy and smart, you’ll most likely find a way to automate it all.

  8. i agree with all of the above, ie please keep writing about all aspects of business, it is very interesting and entertaining, even, learning about your personality is every bit as useful as a model.

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