When the fit hits the shan

It’s certainly been a rollercoaster year. The highest highs and lowest lows.

And I’m hearing from many people that they’re experiencing something similar.

In my case, the most significant chunk of my revenue just got torn away from me by the Autralian Federal Government’s 2023 Federal Budget… two years earlier than our contract stipulated.

Apparently, contracts don’t mean anything anymore.

While it’s a shock, and a whole bunch of us are fighting it, it reminded me of the importance of having a Plan B when things go wrong.

I have one that I’ve been working on for a while.

Why do all businesses need a backup plan?

  • Economic conditions can change rapidly in just a year.
  • Consumer spending habits change just as rapidly when the things the need most rise in cost.
  • Competition may arise even in the most protected industries at any time.
  • Your own costs can rise to a point where you price yourself out of consideration.
  • Governments and corporations will always find a way out of a contract when it suits them to.

The toxic positivity of small business ownership. 

One of the world’s greatest fraudsters, Elizabeth Holmes was quoted several years ago as saying;

The minute you have a backup plan, you’ve admitted that you’re not going to succeed.

Holmes is currently in jail for fraud and several other offences after her Theranos biotechnology startup was exposed as a complete lie as she used billions of dollars of investment money despite never having any proof that her idea would work.

It’s a fascinating tale of a young tech mogul so married to her Big Idea that she honestly never considered that she would ever fail.

So she never had a backup plan.

When we’re getting started in a business, we get so wrapped up in the fun stuff. The marketing, the Canva graphics, the Facebook groups, the TikToks and the presentations.

They are all seen as the positive outcomes of a dynamic, optimistic and driven entrepreneur.

Yet, the equally important things like ensuring working capital, protecting cashflow and having backup plans are often seen as “negative thinking.”

Yet having a backup plan for any business is crucial due to one reason.

We can’t control everything, everywhere, all at once.

Governments change.

Where I live, so many individuals and businesses are dependant upon government support or assistance that it’s hard to imagine how our economy would function without it.

Which means that when a government changes or shifts its priorities, businesses can be annihilated when the money they got used to getting suddenly disappears.

That’s certainly what I might be facing now if I didn’t have a backup plan.

I have worked with enough other businesses to know that the “fit can hit the shan” without warning and leave a trail of destruction behind it.

Knowing that I have zero control over the source of any government funding for what I do, I’ve been steadily building a contingency behind the scenes.

What does a backup plan look like?

Your backup plan probably looks different to mine.

In my case, I’ve been doing the following over the last 18 months:

  • Building a relevant audience in LinkedIn
  • Growing an email list to over 11,700 since May 2022
  • Making a library of YouTube videos
  • Growing my podcast to over 4500 downloads daily
  • Getting 2400 visitors a week to one of my websites
  • And 1800 visitors a week to the other
  • Studying for my Certificate IV in Training & Assessment
  • Collecting more certifications in my industry

Why would I do any of this when I had a three-year contract with a government to deliver what I’ve been delivering?

Simply because, as Pat Whitehead said on a LinkedIn post of mine last week, “Rule #1: Never Relax.” And he’d know. He’s built a great plumbing business that is the pride of the industry in my town.

I knew that one day the gravy train could melt away. Governments change. Ideologies shift. Contracts are often not worth the paper they are written on. And the world is in a constant state of flux.

Honestly, it would have been easier if I had never started a business and just worked in some government job. I’d probably be further ahead than I am.

But I’m just not great at being an employee. And that’s common amongst us small business owners.

We’re not good at taking orders.

Trust God. But tie your camel first.

I love this quote from the Qur’an attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. It speaks of an active relationship with Allah that involves acting with sensibility along with acting with faith.

I’m not religious in even the slightest way. But this has always sat in my mind as an employee, a contractor, a business owner and a trainer.

Trust the government, but always have a backup plan.

Trust your employer, but always have an exit plan.

Trust your partner, but always have legal options.

Trust yourself, but always source other points of view.

I am hoping that the Entrepreneurship Facilitators program can keep going beyond June 30 this year. The hundreds of people I’ve been working with would probably agree.

But I’m not betting the farm on the government going back on their budget plans anytime soon.

So I’ve got my Plan B in place.

And the phone calls and direct messages are already starting to come in to ask what my plans are after June 30.

A few ways that I can help when you’re ready.

As you’ve probably noticed, I love telling a story. Recently I wrote a short guide on how to tell stories for business. It’s a simple, repeatable formula that I wrote on a flight from Brisbane to Darwin recently. Get it here.

Not everyone works best by reading things online or watching videos on YouTube. Some of us learn better when someone shows us how to do the thing we’re trying to you. You can book me for a one-hour 1:1 digital skills session right here.

My free mini-course on how to write better for social media – and even your blog is a five-week email-delivered set of modules that you can do in about 10 minutes each. At the end you’ll be a better writer! Grab it here.

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You won’t find this deal on their website – you’ll need to get it here.