If you want to truly stand out in today’s marketplace and lead your company to new heights of success, you have to work smarter and not harder. For many leaders and managers, that’s easier said than done. Despite their best intentions, they get snarled in the glaring failures that derail business growth and stagnate profits.

In order for you to avoid the most common traps that stifle business growth, you have to be aware of the top failures and know the strategies to combat them. The following will help you turn failure into success and enable your company to exceed growth projections.

Most companies react to the changes that are taking place right now. They react to customers, react to the economy, and react to government legislation. Instead of merely reacting, you need to anticipate future changes and plan for them. The fact is that you can anticipate a great deal in your industry. For example, are cell phones of the future going to have a high definition screen with high definition video? Most people think so. In the future, will we have better bandwidth for both wireless and wired Internet connections? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who says “no.” In the future, will we have more storage in our computers? Of course! Apparently you’re certain about quite a few future events. Therefore, instead of being a crisis manager and reacting to change, anticipate changes so you can drive growth from the inside out. To do that you have to spend one hour a week not thinking about the crisis of the moment, but rather thinking about the predictable opportunities that are waiting for you. Make a list of all the things you’re completely certain about. Then look at your strategies and base them around that list. Only then will you become more of an opportunity management organization.

There is a big difference between informing and communicating. Informing is one-way, static and seldom leads to action. Communicating is two-way, dynamic and usually leads to action. Ironically, we have all these fantastic communication age tools, but we’re using them in an information age way. Realize that the information age is not our friend; it’s our enemy in disguise. Ask yourself, ‘In our organization, are we better at informing than communicating?” For most people, the answer is “yes”. And if you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate externally to customers and shareholders? This is not to say that you should stop informing people. However, you do need to tap into the true power of communication. When you focus on maximizing two-way communications, you can create a communication-age organization and accelerate positive change.

As the word “recession” appears more frequently on the news, avoiding costly strategic mistakes is becoming more crucial to long term growth. Next month, I will share additional failures to avoid and the strategies to combat them that will pay off for years to come.