Business plans are synonymous with success. Businesses of all sizes develop plans: strategic, marketing, business, operational, succession, and finance, among others.
But business owners frequently overlook the ever-important Contingency Plan. The What If? Plan. The “Suppose Everything Doesn’t Go According to Plan?” Plan.
Business operation, especially that of a small business, requires being nimble and responsive. New businesses formulate plans with a vision of tremendous success. As a result, initial plans are often overwhelmingly optimistic and may not always accommodate potential adversity or unforeseen difficulties. Established businesses that don’t stay on top of business, that aren’t nimble or responsive, and that may neglect updating their plans, may face the same issues.
Some examples of when your business might need a Contingency Plan:
What if you don’t meet projected sales goals? Your financing doesn’t come through? You’ve put most of your eggs in one basket…and you lose that basket? What if your best client referral source retires, your top salesperson leaves or a key employee quits? What if your “breakthrough product” was delayed or your competition suddenly shows up with a better, cheaper option? What if you get more work than you have staff or facilities to handle? What if your biggest client cuts the budget for your product or services? Suppose there’s a failure of technology or a natural or man-made disaster.
If one or more of those “unforeseen eventualities” came to pass, could your business survive? A prepared contingency or “What If?” plan, could save the day.
There are two types of Contingency Plans that every business should address:
1. In advance, decide what your business would do in the case of any number of “eventualities,” good or bad. What personnel are in charge of designing and executing the plan? What measures could you implement now to offset a future crisis? Do you need to devise multiple contingency plans…depending on the situations?
2. Always have a focus on research and development — what else could your business do to expand your brand, accommodate adversity or capitalize on success?
A contingency plan considers what might go wrong, or right. It addresses what other options the business has – whether the business might need to “pivot,” or change direction and evolve into a different type of business; reinvent itself because a product or service drops in customer popularity or need or adjust due to changes in financing, staff, in parts or component availability, competition, etc.
Make a contingency plan, stay one step ahead, take time to answer the “What If?” questions. Your contingency plan could be the difference between continued success and unplanned failure.
Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding and marketing expert. She is the author of The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog and co-founder of Newzful, a content marketing services provider. Do you have a plan? Martha can help.