The Backup Plan
I don’t know about you but I’m one of those people that likes to have a plan B. A contingency solution for a possible problem or situation that might come up.
I see the Plan B ethos as necessary, like some people who lavish gifts on their spouses so that if they accidentally forget an anniversary the repercussions aren’t as dire.
The B in Plan B
Having a Plan B for possible business situations can be a life and career saver. I believe the B in Plan B stands for creating multiple contingencies for your business plan/modal.
That sounds kind of technical but the truth is that if you start thinking in contingencies then that will help you change the way you think.
To some degree some of us are so focused on achieving a certain goal and reaching that goal in the best planned way… that we cannot for the life of use consider any other methodology.
What you are doing is effectively confining yourself to your own prison inside your own head. That works great for ethics and morals… It is pretty obvious that without rules and restrictions humanity would eventually devolve into a society that favors debauchery over self restraint.
So far this article might seem a tad dry… so lets use an example that most of us can understand. Think of your backup plan as a different route to a destination you want to get through in your car.
Lets say you want to drive to your friends house. If you only know one route then you are limited by the traffic on that one route. If the government suddenly shuts down the road system for renovation… then you are pretty much stuck because you would not have a clue as to how to get to your friends house any other way.
On the other hand if you know several routes to your friend’s house and one of them was under construction or renovation then taking another route is a quick decision and you have effectively saved yourself some trouble.
A while back I wrote an article called “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” and that was me suggesting to people that you really need to come up with a plan to achieve your career goal. Since my blog is primarily voiceover related then this would pretain to things like Marketing, Sales, Equipment, Finance. Basically the elements that make up the business side of being a VO talent.
If you are a brilliant VO but your accounting skills or negotiation skills are terrible then you are most likely losing money and that might eventually force you to close shop.
By creating a business plan (an initial one… think of it as plan A) then you basically outline to yourself how your business should function. That is the Plan that I refer to when I say Fail to Plan… Plan to Fail.
What I am talking about now on the other hand is expanding on the idea of the business plan. Rather creating solutions to “What if..” problems that you might face in the present or future.
So What if…
Here is a basic breakdown of a decision making exercise that might lead to a decision or plan regarding your voiceover career:
What if Scenarios are endless and you can never really come up with contingency plans for every possible situation but that really won’t be necessary because when you start thinking up a few Plan Bs for some of your problems or for situations that might happen to you, then you start accepting a few things including:
- Not everything goes to plan
- Be flexible and understand the boundaries of how far you are willing to bend
- No situation is 100% hopeless… as long as you stay focused you can come out of a rough spot on top.
- Its ok to lose a little bit of money if it means someone owes you a favor or you’ve gained reputation points.
The Politics of Business
The thing that some people don’t understand is that sometimes you have to be Machiavellian in the way you think (Please refer to The Prince for my reference). That means that even as a nice person / guy you need to think of the pros and cons of any situation and make your decisions according to which situation puts you on top.
If you have an agent that is tying you in with a contract but not bringing you work then the decision to let them go is pretty straight forward. But what if you don’t have a contract with them and they kind of act like an agent and bring you commission based work. do you let them go? Why would you?
In the even that you get a job and you cannot fulfill their requirements do you recommend a competitor risking the possibility of losing that client forever because they prefer your competitor to you? Or do you not help at all? Or do you only help when the situation pretains to a skill that you do not possess so that if you recommend someone else that does not infringe on your skill set, this will win you points with both your agent and the person you recommend for the job, and in turn can mean that that person recommend you when they are put in a similar situation.
Cold and Calculating
A few might think that I am recommending you become cold and calculating. Which is not at all what I am saying, rather, I am talking about a flexibility and speed of thought. A skill that is necessary in running a business. Generosity is a great thing, being generous with your life lessons is why I run Taji’s Voice Emporium. But generosity does not equate to business naivety. Each one of us has a family to take care of and bills to pay and developing a knack for making the best of any given situation might mean the difference between staying afloat and sinking.