Is Having a Plan B the Kiss of Death?

I was talking with a colleague the other day about starting a business and all of the moving parts that are involved in the process. Somehow, our discussion moved to the idea of having a contingency plan in case the business didn’t work out — boy, did we disagree on that topic!

My colleague was adamantly against the idea of creating a Plan B, while I argued the value of having a fall-back plan. Here is an overview of our perspectives. Weigh in with your own at the end.

Go Big or Go Home

My colleague’s perspective is this: If you are not committed enough to do whatever it takes to create a successful business, then you are destined for failure. I agree with this! Remember this post?

But then he went on to say that actually taking the time to create a Plan B gives you an out; it gives you permission to fail. He said if you forge ahead without the safety net, you sure as heck will be a lot of more likely to fight to stay up on that tightrope (doesn’t starting a business often feel like that??), no matter what.

His perspective is that it’s the cushion we create to soften the fall that actually tells us it’s okay to give up and fall off.

He told a few different stories about entrepreneurs he worked with who used their Plan B to justify every shortcoming, every failure, every wimp-out. He said contingency plans make entrepreneurs soft.

The Case for Contingency

Now, my perspective. I don’t entirely disagree with what my colleague said, but I would never recommend walking a tightrope without a net. That’s just stupidity, unless you have a death wish.

Here’s the thing, starting a business is hard. Painful, gut-wrenching and exhausting. And after you put every piece of yourself into it, you may still fail. There are no guarantees. That is the nature of business — a large percentage of new businesses simply don’t survive. And that’s the risk you take when you become an entrepreneur.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to squeeze your eyes shut, leap off the edge and hope you survive to tell the tale. Having a contingency plan is a smart. Here’s why:

  • A contingency plan forces you to face the possibility of failure.
  • A contingency plan can boost your confidence and give you a sense of security that makes the necessary risk-taking easier.
  • A contingency plan can help you devise an incremental start-up plan instead of going full throttle before you’re ready (i.e., starting a business on the side while you’re still working full-time).
  • A contingency plan is never going to be half as good as your goal, so staying far away from it can be motivation by itself.

What’s Your Happy Place?

By the end of the discussion (no punches were thrown), we agreed that a Plan B can work for some, but maybe not others. A lot of it seems to depend on your personality, your desire and your determination.

So, we’re going to turn the floor over to you now. Do you have a contingency plan? Why or why not?


Image credit: christgr

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Alyssa Gregory
Alyssa is a digital strategist, content marketer, freelance writer and founder of the Small Business Bonfire. She's a team player, a team builder and not a bad leader, either. You can often find her on various social networks looking for remarkable people to collaborate with.


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  1. For me, thinking through the worst case scenario allows me to focus on the here and now. Since I already know how I would handle a complete catastrophe (and seeing that I would survive – although beaten up by circumstances), I don’t have that looming over my head. That would cause a constant anxiety for me, even if life doesn’t bring me anywhere near that situation. Knowing I would be okay regardless, lets my focus and drive take over.

  2. Alyssa
    A GREAT post should be required reading for anyone looking for their ” entrepreneur wings”.
    I file this under “Reality You Need to Consider”
    Nice job,


  3. My opinion: It’s like not having a will while you’re alive..a back-up plan doesn’t mean you’re going to fail, it just means that you are being more responsible on how you will handle your business affairs and to whom you will hand the business too. From the day we are born do you realize we have a back-up plan..their called “Godparents” just in case our parents pass away. We’re not talking about giving up, we’re talking about being prepared and if you are not, that shows me a lot of how your business is flowing! just sayin’!!!

    • I love that comparison, Carmen. You’re right, there are so many areas in life where we have a plan in case things don’t work out how we want them to. Business is no different!

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