Are you taking enough initiative?

I am continuously amazed how often I witness opportunities being missed, time being wasted or resources not being effectively leveraged due to a lack of initiative. While you would think this is something that is not an issue with an entrepreneur, it is more often than you think because of beliefs about what initiative is and isn't. People in general don't take the initiative they ultimately could and then wonder why they are not realizing success or progress as they had hoped. Could you or others in your company be taking more initiative?


1. Make a Phone Call: Initiative is spelled starting with an "i", not an "e," but you would think it is spelled "enitiative" because of how reliant everyone has become on email as a main source of communication. That is to everyone's downfall. Email is passive communication, plain and simple. It can easily or unintentionally be ignored. An inventor with a solid product already had an investor, but needed to find the right manufacturing partner. After not receiving a response to her initial email inquiry of a company she knew was the ideal partner, she picked up the phone. She learned that the email had accidentally been deleted upon speaking with one of the key decision makers. Her relentless initiative opened the door she needed to have opened. 


2. Make a Commitment: When you make a commitment, especially if you make it with others as witnesses, you will find your initiative kick into high gear because of having made the commitment. Some of my most successful ventures have been the result of making a commitment tied to a specific deadline, causing a domino effect of action being initiated in order to see the desired result come to fruition.


3. Make an Inquiry: Sometimes taking initiative is nothing more than gathering information. Sure, you can Google to your heart's content, but when you actually interact with others to get information, you always get more than you would have received by surfing and searching on your own. Tidbits are shared or insights are gained that take you in new and sometimes exciting directions. Being curious and interested is a powerful combination for getting to solutions and sources needed to proceed.


4. Make a Decision: If you are truly serious about moving a particular effort forward, then make a decision on a particular direction. Too often, business owners get caught in their own quagmire of indecision, resulting in no one really being clear what they should be doing or could be doing, so no action is taken by anyone. You may learn that the direction needs to shift as everyone's initiative brings new insights and information to be considered. Or you may just be kicking yourself for not having made the decision a long time ago. 


5. Make Intentions Known: People who are successful in business and highly satisfied in their lives are seven times more likely to share what they are trying to achieve with others. While in some cases you need to be selective in who you share your intentions with, for competitive or proprietary reasons, the fact is, making your intentions known reinforces your commitment and always leads to opportunities you never knew existed because of someone you didn't even realize had a connection you needed.


Initiative is a powerful success factor in business and in life. It is about taking action, taking charge and making progress. Decide every day how you can take initiative and challenge others in your company to do the same. You will begin to see activity in your business you never thought was possible and it will prove just how powerful initiative can be.

Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.