Reporters are always asking sports coaches whether they have a “plan B” in case the team’s initial tactics fail to produce results. When the coach is forced to change his strategy during halftime and opts to deploy his plan B, he’ll be lauded as a master tactician if his team ends up the victors. On the flip side, some of the more cynical analysts will question whether the coach got his tactics wrong in the first place, which led to plan B being utilized.
Such a scenario is not unfamiliar to entrepreneurs. You might also be asked whether you have a backup plan should your first business idea fail to launch. Making a success of a second strategy could reinforce your entrepreneurial sense and vindicate your decision to go into business.
The Point of Plan A
However, accepting defeat in business (when plan A fails) contradicts the entrepreneurial mindset and can be a bitter pill to swallow. It suggests that your original idea, that proverbial baby, was not good enough, leaving you to merely settle for another.
Plan A Is Your Passion
Settling is one of the main reasons you should give plan A everything you’ve got. Going with a plan B can be perceived as a failure of your original idea.
It’s likely that you’ve ventured into the world of business because you want to successfully launch an idea that you’ve had for some time. An inspiration of sorts. You’ve probably invested a lot of energy and emotion into the idea and, if it ever does fail (albeit, momentarily), you’ll find it difficult to replicate that same level of enthusiasm in your second business idea. If you were as keen on plan B, it would never have been relegated to second place.
The danger of a plan B is that it’s conducive to an unenthused work ethic, which can lead to failure.
Plan A Can Have Its Own Backup Plan
If your original idea fails, it doesn’t mean you should dismiss the entire concept and begin a new, independent project. If a venture capitalist refuses to invest in your initial product, it means that they’re just not ready to invest—yet. Motivate yourself to work harder in order to improve on it. You’ll soon get there.
Sir James Dyson:
When working on his now famous vacuum design, Dyson had to endure 5,126 rejected prototypes. He ploughed through his savings over a 15-year period just to get his plan A right. Undiscouraged from rejection, Dyson looked at ways in which he could improve his much-loved idea without giving up and having to try something new.
Many modifications later and after much perseverance, Dyson’s plan A was a success. The 5,127thprototype was given the green light and the Dyson brand went on to become the bestselling bag-free brand in America. According to Forbes, Dyson is now worth $4.5 billion—not bad for a rejected plan A.
Plan A Is All You’ll Have
The presence of a plan B can be the pitfall of your plan A. If plan A is all that you have regarding your business goals, then you’ll find yourself putting all your energy and attention into nurturing that baby into becoming a success.
When you know that you’ve got a contingency plan should your passion-project fail, your subconscious can dictate how much effort you’re actually putting in to your first plan to make it a success. You could end up accepting defeat and rejection readily just because you know in the back of your mind that you can work on something else—that seductive plan B.
According to renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins, Stallone took the plan A-only approach and achieved massive success as result of it. Stallone’s plan A and passion was to become an actor in order to make important products (movies). However, he endured a long spell of difficulty, homelessness, and poverty, all while he was trying to make it in the industry.
According to Robbins, Stallone told him that he refused to take on a normal 9-to-5 job, despite having no money and ongoing marital pressure. He decided against a “normal” job because he knew that unemployment was the only way to stay motivated to succeed at his plan A. Stallone had no choice but to succeed.
Many rejections later, and after a source of boxing inspiration, Rocky was created. With a budget of just $1 million, the film went on to gross over $200 million at the box office and a cinematic institution was born.
Plan A Will Be an Education
The proverb, “Jump into the deep end and you’ll have no option but to swim” applies to a plan A-only commitment. As an entrepreneur focused on a single plan, you’ll have to do a lot of hard work, overcome a number of obstacles, and along the way, you’ll learn a lot of new skills, both personal and professional.
Like Dyson, learn from the initial failures that come your way so that you can stick with your original idea and make it a success rather than starting from scratch with a new concept.
A team of researchers in the Harvard Business Review found that among 576 entrepreneurs in the U.K., those who undertook one project after another found it difficult to learn from their failure.
So if you haven’t quite mastered your plan A, nor learned from that journey, you’ll struggle at plan B. So it can be argued that you should lay all your business eggs in one basket. Make that basket a big one.
The main disadvantage of having a secondary plan in case your first fails, is that you’ll never fear failure knowing that you have the safety net of a plan B. Fearing failure can be a motivating factor that pushes you to entrepreneurial success.
It can be argued that you shouldn’t fear failure because you can always start again. However, bolder business people will counter that view by suggesting that the fear of failure should force you to succeed. A plan B may just nullify that fear.
In an article on Bold and Determined, Victor Pride elaborates: “When you have that back-up plan still lingering in your mind you aren’t truly giving 110% to achieve your goals. Maybe you’re giving 75%, even 95% but that isn’t good enough. It takes 100% minimum.”
For some entrepreneurs, plan B may just be a viable option. They’re likely passionate about the idea of business rather than their business idea. They may not see a product as their “baby,” but instead, treat it as a business venture. It can be safe to assume that they’re meticulous in their planning and will also have a plan B, C, and even a H. There’s no crime in that. Upon failure of plan A, a second plan allows them to “get back on the horse.” Even if it’s not the one they originally chose to ride.
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