Agility is a hugely important personality trait to have when you’re running a startup in a dynamic market environment. Eventhough you have a laserlike focus on making your vision come through, you can be guaranteed that things are going to happen along the way that weren’t a part of the plan, and where you will need to adapt – and do so quickly. It’s just part of the game.
But the best form of agility is the one that is managed to keep you in control, of what you do, when you need to do it. Unchecked and unrestrained agility carries the risk of making rash decisions that – if you had taken the time to reflect – you wouldn’t have made in the exact same way.
This is where having a Plan B comes into play; an playbook for emergencies if you will that is only relevant when you are in situations that deviate so much from the expected or planned that you’re in new, unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. This is where a Plan B will help you make better decisions, execute with less anxiety and hopefully end up in a better place.
Very few startups have Plan B’s lying in the drawer, because as a founder you always (need to) assume that everything will go according to plan. It’s part of that motivational drive that are so key towards being able to build a great team, a valuable product and a successful business. But it’s like taking out an insurance; you don’t really want to, and you think it’s probably a waste of time and money. But you relish having one when you need it.
Plan Bs can be built for many scenarios, and there isn’t a one size fits all. Having a grand Plan B is probably not so efficient, but having a set of Plan B’s for different scenarios could be:
You lose out on a big investor. A big customer cancels his contract with you. Turmoil arises in the team. A new strong competitor enters the market. A key employee resigns and leaves. And so forth. Knowing what you want to do and how you want to do it in those situations can help you a lot – more than you know – in getting through those situations.
Why? Because in all likelyhood you will be able to avoid the sense of sheer panic which is often the slippery slope towards making rash, stupid decisions.
Don’t fall into that trap. Have a clear sense of what your Plan B’s are going to be. Write them down. It doesn’t need to be more than a few bullets, you can just pull out for reference and be in a much better and more comfortable position, when the event occurs than you otherwise would have been.