One of the things we like to do with our clients when we’re working with them on business plans and moving them to their eventual success is do what we call ‘what if gaming’. It’s not very complicated, but it can lead to tremendous effects on the business. Most people build business plans based on a linear fashion. They make certain assumptions. They want to get from point A to point B, and they execute a business plan that says, “We’re going to go from A to B.”
Now, how many of us have been able to go from exactly A to exactly B as planned. This is incredibly complex. Just think about your morning commute. If your morning commute is of any distance, there are variations every day. One day a school bus is going to be running a little bit earlier and stop on the way. The traffic light might be green or red depending on your timing. There’ll be other motorists that will come at unpredictable times. Highway traffic may vary up or down. The point is, even the simplest plan to get from your house to your office can have great variations. How do people believe that a business which has tremendous number of third party inputs, requirements, and needs from others, could be as simple as saying, “We’re going to go from A to B, and this is exactly how we’re going to go?” It’s not realistic.
What do we do with our clients? We talk a lot about ‘what if’ planning. This adds a ton of strength to their plans. What if this assumption doesn’t happen? What if that assumption doesn’t happen? What if a third assumption doesn’t happen? What happens if multiple assumptions don’t happen simultaneously? We can start running through these plans and a couple of things happen.
#1 The company becomes more attractive to investors. Investors that know that you’ve been through the ‘what if’ planning are more likely to invest in you.
#2 The management team becomes more confident. They know that even if twists and turns come to them, they’re going to make it. It becomes less stressful if there’s changes to the business plan.
#3 The business becomes stronger. Often there’s opportunities. If something doesn’t happen exactly as planned, that often means that the market’s not reacting exactly the way we thought it would, but it might mean there’s another opportunity out there, that we can take advantage of and move towards. We want to run through a lot of ‘what if’ planning and really think about how we’re going to move forward, even if what we’re not expecting doesn’t happen.
How have you used planning in your business? Have you run through ‘what ifs’? Have you thought about the different possibilities of what might happen in your business? How has planning benefited you? Write in the comment below. We’d love to hear from you and get a discussion started about the pluses and minuses of ‘what if’ planning.
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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.
About the Author
Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment (www.rshawnmcbridelive.com), gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 418-0258.
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