Failure or Success: Why Backup Plans Fail

Failure or Success: Why Back Up Plans Fail

While recently being a guest for a business podcast, the interviewer was trying to provide a list of useful tips to emerging entrepreneurs, talking to people like myself, who have built successful businesses from the ground up. She wanted to provide a backdrop of useful advice, and her questions focused on establishing certain contingencies in the various steps budding business owners might undertake during formation.

At one point she asked, “So what was your backup plan when you created Big Picture?”. My answer (somewhat blunt) “I didn’t have one” caught her off guard, so she restated her question. “No, I mean, if the idea of forming Big Picture as a business didn’t work out, what were you planning to do to make a living? What would you do to make money?” Again I replied, “I had no plan whatsoever.”

My own history is over 25 years of working with and befriending many entrepreneurial CEOs, some who created little neighborhood businesses to a few who have become actual billionaires building, and sometimes selling, their companies. Through it all, there’s a common thread I’ve witnessed first-hand; A planned and intentional “tunnel vision of positivity” focused only on how their businesses would succeed.

I should explain, as I had to with her, having a dream in business takes a combination of experience, unrelenting dedication, and forced obliviousness to distraction.

My own history is over 25 years of working with and befriending many entrepreneurial CEOs, some who created little neighborhood businesses to a few who have become actual billionaires building, and sometimes selling, their companies. Through it all, there’s a common thread I’ve witnessed first-hand; A planned and intentional “tunnel vision of positivity” focused only on how their businesses would succeed.

Failure was not only never an option, it wasn’t even a consideration.

With Big Picture, Inc., I spent the first several years working night, day, and weekends on everything I could think of to support and promote the success of my company. If I was awake, I was working. If I was asleep, I was dreaming of how to do it all bigger and better than the competition.

I easily worked 90-110 hours a week, 7 days a week, for the first 5+ years. No vacations. Many missed holidays and family events. I was exhausted beyond any other job I ever held, yet understood the necessity if I wanted that elusive breakthrough success. The sacrifice was planned and accepted as part of what was necessary to give my business the best shot at becoming viable and self-sustaining.

If I was awake, I was working. If I was asleep, I was dreaming of how to do it all bigger and better than the competition.

I share this simply to lay the reality of what’s truly required. Show me any failed business, and I’ll show you an owner who only put in 70 hours a week before throwing in the towel. Success as a business owner doesn’t work without the hyper-focused dedication to give it everything over several years.

I can’t stress this single fact enough.

I can’t stress this single fact enough.

Staying focused on the what, where, and how your business finds success must become an engrained natural reflex. Athletes will tell you they often “see” themselves crossing the finish line, scoring the game winning point, or overcoming any number of mental or physical obstacles.

Nothing should stand in your way. Especially you.

I didn’t have “problems”, I had “challenges” I had to continually figure out. If I had taken even 10 minutes of my valuable time to divert my focus on a “what if” plan, I would have wasted those 10 minutes.

Back up plans steal more than just time and effort. They steal objective, which diminishes the dream in your own mind, whether consciously or subconsciously. They also undermine positive energy and the overall charisma required to present an aura of success. Even when kept to yourself, any self-doubt will impact how you see yourself and eventually, how potential clients will see you.

Back up plans steal more than just time and effort.
“There is no try. There is only do.” Simple wisdom, yet often overlooked. In business, as in life, simple usually wins…

Any of that was intolerable, and I knew that I could never let myself start to even glance down the seemingly easier path of contingencies.

If I had failed… then, and only then, could I start to figure out what else I could do to make a living. While the business startup was underway, it was crucial I let nothing intrude on all the sacrifice and effort. That was the only way to ensure my best shot was a winning one.

When I consult with entrepreneurs starting their own paths, I try to confirm they are mentally, physically, and financially prepared to block out the negative distraction of any back up plans.

To paraphrase the words of Yoda (an elder character from the Star Wars films,) “There is no try. There is only do.” Simple wisdom, yet often overlooked. In business, as in life, simple usually wins… especially when free of wasteful encumbrance.

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