It’s heartbreaking to watch the once action-oriented, built-from-scratch business owners who have grown their companies to the point of getting so busy that they have forgotten how to be assertive and proactive. Their marketing success and sales volume have paid off in the form of massive stress, brought on by constantly reacting to issues, fixing problems and simply just ‘keeping up.’

Not all adopt this identity of servant to the business. However, many continue with the builder mindset and old habits at all levels as their company grows and grows.

A few continue to evolve and grow. Here are three ways they remain more proactive than reactive – truly conducting the locomotive that is their company rather than sitting at the back shoveling coal into the engine.

They build to quench the market’s needs, not just their own needs. Some people only set out in business with the idea of: ‘one day this company will pay the bills, cover rent and make payroll . . . consistently!’ Others consider the needs of the market or the problem that their product or service solves, thereby giving themselves no ceiling, no comfort zone and no sense of maintenance.

Proactive growth is simply a by product of the crusade on which they consider themselves.

They ritualistically create and work from 90-day action plans. The difference between massive excitement and massive stress often just comes down to planning habits.

Sounds boring, right? Maybe so, but it is true. Workload does not cause stress nor prevent us from being proactive; it is decision load that causes stress and keeps us reactive. Most are caught in heavy decision load all the time as they fail to protect time to complete 90- day action plans in which they, in essence, lay out “marching orders” for the quarter.

When you take one full day to make the big decisions for the coming quarter, you can spend the rest of the quarter actually taking actions and not being paralysed by looming decisions and reacting to problems and opportunities.

They adopt an attitude of service to the shareholders – even when the only shareholders are them. Those of you with shareholders other than yourselves will likely have this mindset already, but it’s not as easy to adopt for those of us who run the company day to day and sit as sole shareholder. Imagine how much more focused you would be on proactive growth and reporting how the company has advanced, evolved, increased in value, expanded, as well as what the plan is going forward, if you had someone else to whom you reported. We often are willing to pay more respect and courtesy to others than ourselves. It is time to adopt an attitude of service to the shareholders – especially if the shareholder is you!