Have a back-up plan

I know this is going to fly in the face of all the advice you receive from the self-help and positive thinking gurus.


But I believe an important part of anyone’s business plan is a back-up plan – what you will do if the whole thing doesn’t work out.


I’m not saying that you should spend every waking moment fretting about what you will do if your business falls over. That’s a waste of time and a real distraction from what you need to be doing – thinking and working to make your business a success.


That’s exactly why I think it pays to have a back-up plan prepared before you launch – because you can end up wasting a lot of time and energy worrying about it in the heat of battle.


I’m not a pilot, but I know that pilots have a book of procedures for what to do when things go wrong. Chances are they will never pull out that book and they certainly don’t spend their flights obsessing over the content of the book.


But it’s there. And that gives them a lot of comfort knowing that if things do go wrong, they have a considered and workable solution.


So, my advice for anyone considering starting up a business is to give a little thought to what you would do in the unfortunate event that your business doesn’t work out. Don’t write a 500-page document. But do have a real plan and then put it well to one side.


Then in a month or a year when your actual and projected cash flows look about as close as Kevin and Julia and you start to panic and fret, you can remind yourself that you have a plan just in case things go really awry.


That’s comforting. And it allows you to then instantly get back to the things that matter – making that next sales call, thinking clearly about your next strategic move or whatever.


I’ve done it. I sat down and thought about what I would do if things didn’t work out: would I try and get a job at a media agency, go back to writing television advertising, try to get a job selling radio advertising?


Bottom line? I know what I would do.


Now, thankfully, I haven’t had to implement my plan and it’s looking less and less likely that I will have to. But, in the leaner times, the benefit was that my mind didn’t run off worrying about what I would do if things wouldn’t work out. It’s been incredibly helpful.


So, my advice is that every business plan should also have a back-up plan that hopefully never sees the light of day. But it sure is helpful knowing it’s there.


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