There is one line of thought in the advice industry: never have a backup plan. If we don’t have a backup plan, by necessity, we’ll figure out how to do things as we go. The idea is that backup plans are generally easier than the original plan, so we would be more likely to follow the path of least resistance. Having a backup plan is a failure mindset, and a failure mindset leads to failure. If you have a safety net, you will invariably fall into it.
I get it. I understand the law of attraction. Whatever we think about, we will attract into our lives. If a Plan B is on our minds, we’ll probably manifest it.
And I can think of many examples where jumping without a harness may have forced people to work harder in their businesses. You probably have examples of your own.
But here’s the thing. I can also think of many examples where entrepreneurs would have done better if they had a Plan B. Sometimes people give up their life savings, quit high-paying jobs, and borrow other people’s money to boost your business ideas. And many, many, many of those businesses fail. There can be many reasons for this: poor planning, weak management, weak marketing, economic downturn. But sometimes it’s just a bad business idea.
Is there greater success for those who do not have a backup plan? I don’t think the evidence supports it. I believe that, all things being equal, the lack of a safety net will not determine whether or not a business will be successful. Commitment and hard work will make a difference, but they are not contingent on working without a net.
I have a friend who took a year off to start his business, and once he knew it was a success, only then did he quit his job. Another friend started an alternative health practice in her third year of nursing in college. She still finished senior year as part of her backup plan, but she worked so hard at her business that she didn’t need a nursing degree. And a writer friend of mine kept taking jobs writing business plans, even while he was writing his fiction novels.
Not having a backup plan may work for some people, but not for everyone. It really all comes down to a person’s comfort with the risk. The fear of not having money can certainly motivate people to work hard, but let me ask you, “Do we really want to operate our businesses in a state of fear?” What if we love what we do so much that we will succeed no matter what? Wouldn’t we rather run our businesses based on passion rather than fear?
A minimalist business mindset would suggest that if we keep our expenses to an absolute minimum, we will have a profitable business after our first sale. Not a bad place to start.
I certainly believe that a success mindset works in the long run. But when we’re walking a tightrope, let’s make sure the odds are in our favor before telling the emcee to pull down the net.