Entrepreneurs can take solace from the resilience of a man who changed our lives, Thomas Edison, who saw more failures than success in his iconic journey of discovery. Here’s how he aptly summed up his struggle, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
An entrepreneur’s life is pretty much the same, where one is challenged regularly and there is more ambiguity than certainty. Yet, it is endured through the lenses of optimism like Edison’s, till they get it right. What differentiates successful entrepreneurs from others is that they keep going in spite of the many hurdles that come their way.
When their best-laid plans have not fructified, the product has fallen flat, someone else has stolen their thunder and money has run dry, it is the ability to come up with a new plan and the zeal to try again, which sets them apart from the pack. In a career which has no guarantees, it is wise and not detrimental to an entrepreneur’s dedication to their cause to have a plan B in place to correct and set a new course.
Having a plan B beforehand does not mean accepting failure early on
It is critical for an entrepreneur to accept that they need a plan B, as ideas, outcomes, market conditions and even people are prone to failures. This does not mean that the entrepreneur is not sure of their business concept and is not committed to the path.
In fact, creating a plan B is a sign of having a realistic approach towards making the original plan work at all costs. It is also a preparation towards ultimate success as it can get an entrepreneur out of the rut. This plan B can be as much about damage control, as also a new plan away from an original idea which was not working.
Twitter is a good example of a plan B changing the future of the company. Twitter started as an arm of a service which was familiar only to industry geeks and unheard of otherwise. It was a new project they started working on called Odeo for broadcasting podcasts which took a turn when sheer creative exhaustion compelled them to communicate in short bursts. They were forced to condense their ideas into just 140 characters. The team liked this new idea and Twitter was born in its new avatar that is immensely popular today. Now, it’s a medium of choice for the gen-next millennials.
Plan B is necessary to tackle the numerous unforeseen problems
Multiple scenarios which are beyond our control can put a serious spanner on the original plans. The market may turn, as the recent demonetization has shown, or a key member may choose to exit the company. There may be a breakdown of operations or a natural disaster may occur which could hit productivity etc. Similarly, sudden policy changes by the government can also affect profit margins and business parameters or new entrants in the market can pose serious challenges to a running business. In such cases having a plan B as a cornerstone to creating a healthy and sustainable business, will help the entrepreneur overcome these hiccups.
In the process of implementation, a new idea may be your plan B
In the path to achieving a startup’s vision, at times a plan A may develop an entirely new possibility which may seem more compelling and may be worth implementing as plan B. This is the time to keep an open mind and allow both the plans to run before an entrepreneur decides on what is the better idea.
Adaptability is critical to finding new path breaking openings in a startup’s journey. Giving up on an original business idea is a difficult pill to swallow for most entrepreneurs, but the experiences during the process of implementation may demand a quick switch to plan B. For example, Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder of Ola Cabs, did not start his entrepreneurial journey with Ola, but with an online holiday and tour planning service, before switching to the cab service sector as Ola. Since then, this company has been going from strength to strength.
An entrepreneur has to be flexible and adaptable, regardless of the nature of the business. If the original plan is not working or doesn’t seem exciting enough in the face of new discoveries, thoroughly analyse the reasons behind it and be willing to accept the fact that it is time to switch to plan B. In fact, having a plan B will also ensure that you are in a better position to negotiate, or else you would have been on the losing end of the bargain just to keep your startup afloat.
While switching to plan B may not be an easy decision, since it would mean writing off all that has been invested in till now or ditching a whole customer base, remember that a business is all about taking tough calls in tough times, so you can sustain yourself in the long run.