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Plan B: Do You Have One or Think You Need One?

Plan B: Do You Have One or Think You Need One?

What do Twitter, Slack, Avon, YouTube, and Play-Doh have in common? They all started off as something totally different from the successful business than they are today. Twitter began life as Odeo, a podcasting platform, and Never-ending was a failure that reinvented themselves as Slack. YouTube was a video dating app that couldn’t generate a single user until they opened the platform to anyone with a video, and in 18 months they were generating 100-million views a day.

In 1878, a 20-year-old Irish immigrant, David McConnell, was selling books door-to-door but no one was buying. He began offering customers a sample of a perfume to anyone that would listen to his pitch. As it so happened, the stay-at-home prospects found his perfume more appealing than his books. Avon was born. By 1937, 30,000 women were selling Avon part-time.

Kay Zufall rescued her brother Joseph McVickers’ wallpaper cleaning product by using it as modeling clay. That salty-malleable dough became Play-Doh and we’ve bought a billion cans. So, everybody had a Plan B and used it to make the best of a bad situation. Wrong! They were all caught by surprise and had to think very fast. Plan A wasn’t going to work. In the case of Play-Doh, a world-war disrupted an industry and there was nothing to go back to and no clear way forward. Sometimes unexpected adversity turns out to be rocket fuel rather than an anchor.
The COVID virus is backing some of us into a corner while it’s opening doors for others. If you want to stay in business and fulfill your dreams, listen to Inc.’s between hockey-stick growth and hit-the-wall failure there’s a way forward by Bill Shapiro. Rethink every aspect of your business model, examine every potential alternative, redirect your passion, lift your chin, and carry on.

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