The importance of a 'plan B' in business

A politically charged, but historically documented term, the idea of having a 'plan B' or a back-up plan is oftentimes viewed as being prepared for the worst-case scenario. But in the world of business, where entrepreneurs deal with daily struggles and risk it all just to succeed, having a plan B might also be considered a weakness or seen as a lack of commitment to a current plan.

It’s important to think about crafting your plan B in a strategic, intentional, and sometimes in multiple ways.

Just as great, not second-rate

Having a contingency plan is nothing new to entrepreneurs, especially those willing to take great risks for the chance at even greater gains. Dating back to the Civil War, the art of crafting a 'plan B' required developing a contingency plan in case the ideal plan of attack did not work out. Like soldiers going into war, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to plan in advance, taking into account alternative business models and routes to success, by embracing the uncontrollable measures standing in the way of them achieving their dreams.

The first, and arguably most important aspect of crafting a plan B, specifically for entrepreneurs, is this: A back-up plan should be just as thought out and just as great as your plan A. Even though you hope that you will never have to resort to your back-up plan, this does not change its importance, since you might actually have to rely on it in the future. Remember, if you’re forward-thinking enough to make a plan B, it should be just as great as your plan A.

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Intentionality matters

Intentionality is what makes any contingency plan effective. Entrepreneurs risking it all to survive in the business world, regardless of the sector or industry, should view their back-up plan as a strategy, not as an afterthought. It is important to think about how a plan B could help you to make better business decisions in the interim. Crafting an intentional plan B requires you to take a personal inventory of what is important to you and how you might achieve. Strategy is everything here; your plan B must be applicable, personal, and meaningful in order to have the most effect.

Sometimes, plan Bs are influenced by social, financial, and even emotional stresses. Your plan B must be intentional so that you can rest assured and proceed in achieving your plan A. If you know that you have a plan to fall back on, it will be easier to take risks and make hard decisions in your current endeavor.

Read: How Virgin has innovated across industries 

The contingency plan alphabet

Just as plan Bs can become a reality for entrepreneurs, it is necessary to have more than one idea and plan to fall back on. Having multiple plans in your back pocket is advantageous for many reasons. One key reason is that having multiple potential plans expands your imagination of the future and can even help you cope with the idea that your dream plan might not work out.

At a given moment, you should be able to list your Plans B, C, and even Z, just as easily as you recite your business motto and revenue stream. Having a contingency plan alphabet to rely on is not a weakness; it demonstrates your ability to critically think about the future and envision the various ways that you will exist and succeed within it. While your plan A is your current primary goal for a reason, having a firm grasp on additional plans, ways to support yourself and even additional business ideas can also translate investors or future business partners as being versatile and as taking initiative.

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Working as a co-founder of a digital health start-up with a focus on sexual health education, the idea of plan B has always fascinated me. Without being overtly political, plan B”in the sense of reproductive rights is sometimes viewed as a worst cases scenario or quick fix in a stressful situation. For some, taking a pill fixes something, but for others, advanced planning and multiple strategies is ideal. In business, crafting a plan B can follow the latter, as long as your contingency plans are well thought out, intentional, and exist in multiples.

Having a plan B doesn’t mean you’re willing to give up; it means you’re smart, strategic, and relentless, all of which are qualities of a great entrepreneur. Expect to have a plan B, and expect others to have them as well. What’s your plan B? Share it in the comments below!

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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