Updated: May 2
In business, it is easy to look at everything with tunnel vision. We visualise our goal and the road to get there and think of all of the pit-stops along the way. We may think about the different jobs and personnel that will be involved, the different costs and the overall workload, but then we can get so set on that vision that we forget to ask ‘what if’?
Hello, I’m Georgia and I started off as a wedding and lifestyle photographer before also branching out further into the field of personal branding, mentoring and business coaching. My desire is that there would be many more entrepreneurs that succeed in business and that all their (your) hard work and sacrifice pays off. I would love to connect with you and find more out about your success stories and the lessons you have learnt along your business journey so feel free to connect with me via social media, and if you enjoy this article then please join the family by signing up to my newsletter and emailing list to receive exclusive content, freebies and offers – to get you started you can have 5 free stock photos to use on your social media.
Why should I have a What-If Plan?
This last year or so has taught me a lot about the what-ifs. With the breakout of covid and the different governmental restrictions put in place I, like so many others, have found out that you can have the best plans in the world but sometimes things happen that you just can’t control or get around.
As a Wedding Photographer, the reality was that much of my business came to a standstill – or at least the physical work of photographing weddings. If I had set a goal to do X amount more weddings in the first quarter of 2020 than I did the previous year then I would have simply been unable to achieve that goal because the industry shut down and weddings were postponed. Or if I had wanted to get more bookings for the next year, then again my goal would have been affected as there was so much uncertainty that many people held off from making any plans for the following year. And even aside from how the industry was hit, my life was drastically affected as well as I now had my 3 children at home instead of being at school. Bear in mind that some of the what-ifs may not only stop you from reaching your goals, but it may also mean you have no income coming in as well.
One of the other things I have learnt from this pandemic in regards to business is don’t put your eggs all in one basket. In other words, make sure you have multiple revenue streams and try to earn some passive income where you can. Why not read 3 Areas You Must Prioritise For Business Success where I touch on this and 2 other imperative pieces of advice.
The point is sometimes life throws a curveball and sometimes your goals are subject to other people or situations going in your favour. What happens if your supplier goes bust, or if you or your staff members take some time off because of an illness. What would happen if prices were to rise for your materials or premises, could you still achieve your margins? There are many potential reasons why you may not be able to achieve your goals, or at least not in the way you had originally hoped, and so it is worth having a contingency plan for those situations.
Benefits to Having a What-if Plan
There are many benefits to having a what-if plan. First of all, you are better prepared for those moments if they ever arise and as a result, you will hopefully not be thrown completely off guard by the change in circumstance. This could really help relieve you of any additional stress and stop you from panicking and making rash decisions because you are under pressure.
Also, whilst you start to think about those potential issues you may even come up with a better way of achieving your goal or see that the goal could be adjusted slightly so that that you could still measure your progress. This could be something as simply changing the metric that you are measuring your success. For example, if you were worried about a potential spike in supplier costs affecting your profits, you could change the metric of your goal altogether to the number of sales you have. You will of course want to make sure that you address the profit margins as well, but at least this would allow you to see that whilst the profits have necessarily risen, that your sales are up and now it’s just about finding new suppliers or raising your prices.
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Another benefit could be you decide to do some of the groundwork needed for those potential deviations. For example, you may come up with a list of different providers that you can contact if need be. Maybe you could list all the jobs that you could do at home and the ones that would have to be done in the office, or even a list of jobs that you would have to do and a list of jobs that you could get a member of the team do for you if you couldn’t do them for whatever reason. All of this may help you prioritise what you need to do first of all to make sure that things can carry on if you or someone else has to take time off.
From a financial perspective, you may realise that your accounts need to be put into order and that you really need to have a better cash flow. This is one of the other points I touch on in my blog, 3 Areas You Must Prioritise For Business Success. Cash flow is so important in a business and it is often a lack of it that causes so many businesses to fail. As you set your financial goals or even other goals that have financial implications, you may realise that now is not the right time, or that you need to start asking for more money upfront from your customers, or that you need to cut back on storing stock and start ordering it when and as you need it.
As I previously mentioned, you may need to considerer whether you need to branch out the business so that you have multiple revenue streams. This could be that you start working in a different field, or that you start earning passive income, or that you simply look for more customers – some companies sole trade comes from 1 or 2 companies, and as such, they may wish to make their customer pool bigger.
If I use myself as an example, when the wedding industry came to a standstill I decided to launch my YouTube channel as it was something I could do from home. The hope was that it would start to earn me passive income in the future. This could have been achieved by being me being paid for adverts being shown on my videos, or by getting sponsors to pay me to give them a shout out and/or advertise their products, and/or by building me a customer base that will buy my presets, stock photos, e-books and online courses – all of which I am also currently working on behind closed doors. After just over a year of doing it, I have learnt a lot and have made many changes and I had to adapt the channel and workload when the wedding industry reopened. But all in all, it has been worthwhile as I have been fortunate enough to have got some work from it. It has also boosted my SEO (search engine optimisation) as well which has given me a better online presence.
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I also decided to really push in the field of personal business branding and also product photography for businesses. I already had some connections with businesses that are in the wedding industry, and I soon made some other contacts. Due to these changes in my business, I recently rebranded my website and split my social media channels so that I am reaching and connecting with the right people on each channel. All of this has been time-consuming, but I have definitely seen the benefits, and now that the wedding industry is up and running to some degree, I have got multiple revenue streams established in different fields, and I have got a lot of the groundwork done ready for when I want to launch my online and in-person courses. I am still doing what I love and know, that is taking photos and working with awesome people, and I feel better prepared should (God forbid) another lockdown arise and the wedding industry close for a while.
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Ultimately it was only due to the wedding industry shutting down and other lockdown measures that were put in place that meant I decided to push these changes in my businesses, but the key was that I had some sort of plan for my business to earn income from other sources. They were meant to be for the future, and I didn’t have a detailed plan of action as to how and when I would launch them, but I did have something to at least start with which meant that I wasn’t in complete panic mode when the pandemic hit. It also meant that I was able to be very proactive in getting it all up and running which was really helpful.
Conclusion - Your What-if Plan
There are a whole host of things that you may decide to put in place when you stop and consider ‘what-if’. It may not be as extreme as having to rebrand your business or branch out to other areas and it could be that you simply decide to give yourself an extra month to achieve your goal so that it allows for potential issues. But whatever the case may be I cannot stress enough how beneficial it will be to have a plan, or even plans, in place so that you are still in the driving seat if any situations arise that mean you can’t achieve what you had set out to do. There is no guarantee that you will ever need your what-if plan, but you will be glad you had one of those what-ifs come around.
It is worth noting that whilst having a what-if backup plan in place is helpful and a good thing, it still doesn’t guarantee success or that you can still hit your goals and targets. Sometimes things are unfortunately taken out of your control and there isn’t anything you can do about it, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do all we can to be best prepared for what is around the corner and help protect all of the hard work and sacrifice that we have put into establishing our businesses.
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