Reactive Administration vs Proactive Administration


You’re probably looking at me like I have two heads – what on earth are you talking about reactive administration and proactive administration….. Admin is admin – and all of it gives me a headache.

I actually had this thunderbolt of inspiration on my ride to school with my kiddos the other morning. I’ve been finding myself running on the hamster wheel of small business being super busy with administration backlog and being reactive in the tasks I’ve been doing for myself. Which got me thinking, things run so much more smoothly when I have my processes up to date and my systems running smoothly and I’ve put the time into working in a proactive way instead of being reactive.

And this is what I want for you! So, I wanted to explain the differences between the two and how you can move from being reactive to proactive.

Administration is the day-to-day boring bits

A lot of my clients are creative brains and their eyes glaze over when it comes to doing the nitty gritty administration needs in their businesses. They are phenomenal at doing the do, delivering their services, courses, projects, managing their teams. But in behind all of that doing is a lot of administration, sales, marketing, processes, resources, records, financials. Keeping on top of all of those things to keep the cogs turning in their small business machine can be overwhelming and more often than not, get left behind on the priority list when things get busy with the delivery side of things.

Running your business with reactive administration

First off, this is not a bad thing – in fact, I do it myself a lot. As things shift and change in your business, you are changing your offerings all of the time or doing things differently as markets and demands change.

So, you go and offer a new product / service – you put it out in the marketplace, someone jumps on it and then because it’s a new offering you haven’t actually got all of the pieces of the puzzle together on how you move through the process. To get straight on the delivering, you jump on in and cover the minimum bases that you need. Before you know it, you’ve got another client on the offering, and so you just jump in and do the bare minimum and get on your way.

This continues and because you’re continuing on that reactive cycle, you’re doing the minimum, you’re covering the minimum bases for your administration tasks but in the background, things are starting to collect in a messy hotch potch of filing, details recorded in your CRM, emails in random places. Yes, you’re getting things done, but when you come back to find things, they’re all over the place.

Or there’s little things that pop up very occasionally that you don’t do all that often, so you quickly jump in and get it done, then file it away and not think about it again.

So, what do you mean by proactive administration?

This will give some the squeamies in the belly (and for creatives, what do you mean I have to stop and plan?) but proactive administration is sitting down and making a map or plan of what needs to happen for your business outcomes.

I’m not saying sit down and write your entire business process manual and administration tasks. But just taking that moment when you have that new service idea and switching on the analytical part of your brain and ask yourself the question: What tasks need to be done for this to run smoothly? 

By taking the proactive approach of pinpointing the basic tasks and touch points you will need to deal with you can put in place a structure for you to get those admin tasks done in a streamlined and consistent way.

Proactive Administration Example

Launch a new online course

  • Collating the content and uploading to the platform you’re using (or creating the slides for the presentation for a live webinar)
  • Taking payments for signups
  • Emails to new signups (thank you, automated lead up emails)
  • Recording the details of signups for your course (do you have a CRM, if not, having a central document / spreadsheet to record their details)
  • Hosting the online course (pre-recorded or live webinars – what platforms are you using)
  • Resources for the course (where are they saved, how are you distributing them to the clients)
  • Fielding questions from prospective clients (formulate a FAQ page / document / email templates)
  • Follow up email after completion / feedback survey
  • Close out of launch – central place to save all of the records and information for future

That sounds like a lot of brainpower and work

Yes, and no.

Think about how much time you spend changing gears in your mind when varying demands are thrown at you at any given time. This example – can be a single page document that you have saved in your electronic files or as a to do list in your task management software (like Asana or Trello).

Now think about having not done the above of mapping it out (and putting the systems in place) and trying to think of each step on the fly and on the run as you’re doing the other demands in your business.

You will most definitely miss steps, miss details, forget to send things along the way and it will make the experience not as smooth as you’d like for both you and for your clients.

Taking the proactive approach moving forward

I know this isn’t going to be possible for every single occurrence in your business – but taking the proactive approach as much as possible for your administration tasks and administrative needs will help you to streamline your day to day. And as a bonus, when it comes time to grow your team or hand over tasks to an assistant or a contractor in your business you will have a bank of knowledge that’s out of your head an into a format that someone else can follow (as a start).

Taking proactive steps will allow you to also not have the worry of what have I missed and then having to go back and revisit things if you’ve missed details along the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether you work from a place of being reactive or proactive with your administration in your business. Feel free to drop a comment below or email me

Want to learn how to Structure Your Business Admin for Success?

Want to learn to be more proactive in your administration in a more in-depth format?

Structure Your Business Admin For Success is a 14 day online course delivered via easy to follow instructional videos, workbooks and templates – free if you complete within the 14 days free trial with Skillshare. Find out more here:  Structure Your Business Admin For Success on Skillshare

Korryn Haines

Korryn Haines

Written by Korryn Haines

Korryn Haines is an administration ninja with over 10 years of administrative experience in a wide range of industries. Based in Brisbane, she provides virtual assistant services and administration process consulting services to micro and small businesses. She loves a nice big pot of tea, smashing out a BodyPump class and spending time with her young children, husband and lovable Cocker Spaniel.

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