Successful businesses need a Plan B

Successful businesses need a Plan B

As in life, businesses need a Plan B. Not everything goes to plan all of the time.

Having a Plan B is not a sign of being defeatist, pessimistic or, as some might say, allowing negative pre-programming of your mindset. Quite the contrary. Having a Plan B is all about entertaining thoughts of success. It’s about having a pragmatic and realistic expectation that business planning is a work in progress. Every day there are changes in the economy, in our local business environment and more importantly with the people we deal with (be they staff, suppliers or customers) and business success resides on having a strong Plan A through to Z if need be.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail:

The old adage ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is used causally by so many in business planning. But it really needs to extend much further and apply to Plan B and beyond. Having a Plan B is not about planning for failure, it’s about planning for success. Yes, it’s about goal-setting and strategic direction and all of the sub-tasks these involve. But it’s about having a strategy to take hard decisions when faced with the socio-economic realities of unplanned events.  Having a Plan B is about protecting the value of your business. Plan B can be about contingency planning, continuity planning, succession planning, exit planning, disaster recovery and whole host of other jargon-related planning tasks that new-starts and young businesses don’t always consider in the early days.

Do we have a Plan B or even C or D? What are the essential elements of Plan B, C or D? What circumstances would trigger a Plan B, C or D coming into effect? At what point are we flogging a dead horse and pursuing a pipe dream of a business versus pro-actively changing the course of our business direction to respond to external factors outside of our control? Plan B is about our responsiveness to change (both opportunities as well as challenges), how well we’ve planned for these changes, and how robust our business model (and mental agility) are to deal with new scenarios. Plan B (and beyond) can determine our level of success.

The Sat-Nav Analogy:

Take any mode of transport and any journey it may make. Rare is the day (especially if congestion and weather play a part) that we travel from point A to B in a direct line and without issue. And yet we get there, albeit eventually and sometimes with delays, deviations and perhaps stress and disillusionment. Our sat nav (or our manual map-reading skills) have ensured a recalculation of the best route so we still arrive at a desired destination, possibly modified by choice and hopefully on time and budget. Navigating in business is no different. Despite all the best intentions, things arise. But, having a destination, strategic guidance to get there and a strong managerial structure to decide if, when and how the route should be adjusted is crucial.

Another New Year but a new take on planning:

New Year for many, whether personally or in business, often brings with it planning, goal-setting and resolution-making. I would encourage two things for 2017.

  1. Have a Plan B.
  2. Have more than one New Year.

Personally, I’m not a fan of once-a-year planning, nor resolutions set only in January. I actually have three new years and rounds of planning which suits my business model and personal circumstances – a January new year, an April Financial new year, and a September academic new year. More recommended might be to plan in line with your financial year and set quarters.

As January 2017 kicks in, many business events cover planning and goal setting. 2016 was a turbulent year for both individuals and business owners and we enter 2017 with a blank canvas ahead but a number of economic unknowns. We shall be putting our own Colony twist on planning and along with a business growth expert and coach, we intend to untangle the jargon used in business planning and focus on Plan B Essentials on 19 January in Warrington to address these points: Why have a Plan B? What essentials elements should it contain? What trigger factors might require it to kick in?

Happy ‘Plan B’ Planning when ever and how ever you decide to tackle it.

For more details about the Plan B event related to this blog or other business support and networking events run by Colony, click here