Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. - Mike Tyson
The most prominent distinction between an entrepreneur and an established executive, is the ability to remain flexible and agile when circumstances change.
Flying back home from a trip we took prior to launching Batch 2, Chris and I received an email from an executive at a large firm we work with letting us know that one of the main partners we had secured to fund a multi-year project dropped off. Reading the details of how this individual communicated his decision sparked sympathy. We'd worked very hard with our client to convince his board and leadership team to secure this project and the main person we had identified to run the program bailed just a few weeks prior to launch. We allowed ourselves to feel sorry as our client described the situation, until we got to his last sentence: "We're screwed, we have no Plan B."
Before I could fully collect my thoughts, I emailed right back - "What do you mean there's no plan B?" There is always Plan B, C, D, E... We reminded our client when we first pitched the project to his leadership team we presented several alternate plans on what the program could look like, just to get it approved. Our main point of contact had been so focused on Plan A he never considered we might need to switch to Plan B.
By the time we landed in Oklahoma we had three options on the table for him to present back to his board. This is a great example of how as an entrepreneur you have to be both laser focused on the goal while remaining flexible and open to switch to Plan B - Z.
There's Always a Plan B
Our definition of a startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. If you've founded a company you know, regardless of any formal definition, startups are inherently chaotic. As a founder, keeping your company alive requires you to think creatively and independently. More often than not conditions will change so fast any original plan, regardless of how well-thought-out, quickly becomes irrelevant. Isn't this true for life in general?
Surviving in the world of owning and operating your business requires a mindset able to quickly separate the crucial from the irrelevant, synthesize the output, and create solutions despite the chaos.
You must create and test multiple hypotheses. As you do, infinite number of possible future plans will develop. When the inevitable happens and your assumptions are wrong, pivot your model into the next plan and continue forward. Do this over and over until you find a scalable and repeatable business model and before you run out of money.
Most of the time your hypotheses about Plan A, B and C are wrong.
Searching requires agility, tenacity, resilience, curiosity, opportunism and pattern recognition.
Great entrepreneurs are good at both searching and execution. You need both to build a world-class company.
As a startup founder, your job is to develop a repeatable and scalable business model.