I remember the exact moment I realized my “Plan B” was an illusion. I was talking to my husband about my then-struggling coaching practice. I had been in business as a coach for two years and had barely pulled a profit. I was frustrated, feeling like a failure and dreaming of getting a ‘real job’ where I could experience success again.

I told Mike “I will give this business one more year. By that time, both kids will be close to school age and if I’m still not profitable, I can go back and get a corporate job.” It sounded like a smart, solid plan. I felt certain he’d be 100% on board.

“Well, I don’t know how I feel about that” he said. “I don’t like the idea of our kids going into day care and latchkey. I like the way our family works when you have flexibility in your schedule. You know if you go back to corporate you’re not ever going to have that again. You’ll be back to 50+ hour weeks. Life will be a lot more stressful.”

Poof! In that moment I knew he was right and my “Plan B” was seen for what it was—an illusion. In my heart of hearts, I knew I was lying to us both if I thought I’d ever be happy in a corporate job again. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I had always been comforted by the thought ‘if this doesn’t work I can always get a job’ but I suddenly realized I was not going back to corporate life.

The blessing was that without my Plan B to lean on I became incredibly focused. I now had a singular purpose—to figure out how to make this business work for me and my family, and deliver great value to my clients. I couldn’t entertain the possibility of “it not working” anymore. Nothing motivates like that kind of clarity!

I’ve thought about my lack of a Plan B a lot lately. I’ve been hearing from some discouraged entrepreneurs wondering whether it might be time for Plan B—to get a JOB or to take on work they really don’t enjoy, or to run away to some deserted island! To help them get clear, I start by zeroing in on how they got here. I’ve learned that when passionate people start looking for a Plan B—an escape route—any combination of the following are happening:

1. Burn out.
Pushing hard, working crazy hours, trying anything and everything to get the business to grow, make a huge leap, and be profitable leads to burnout. Operate at the burnout level long enough and your body, your mind and your soul will crave anything that promises a reprieve—a job, running away to a deserted island—you name it.

2. Constantly saying ‘yes’ to things just to get by.
If the money isn’t rolling in the way we need or want, we get desperate. We lower our standards. We tolerate work or clients or situations that drain and discourage us. Sometimes we lower our prices or modify our services in the hopes of selling more. We start saying yes to just about anything to bring in a few bucks, and soon find that our passion for what we do is drained, and our financial situation isn’t much better. Plan B starts looking mighty attractive!

3. Focusing on the wrong tactics, strategies and priorities, at the wrong time.
This one is tricky. What’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for you. And yet, in our deep desire to make this business work, we start looking for solutions. And what we look for, we find—in abundance. Solutions are everywhere, and before long we’ve invested in one solution after another with the promise that each will deliver us to our goal—a thriving business that gives us freedom to live our lives. But the problem starts when you choose an approach that is all wrong for you and your business, at least right now. For example, if cashflow is your number one priority, investing in creating a ‘passive’ info product is not the best use of your time—right now. You’d be better served putting together a mid to higher priced offering for a few key clients and getting your financial house in order before you invest months creating a low-profit margin product.

4. Broken Business Model
This is one I see all the time. Everything you do should strategically fit the business model you’ve chosen. But the truth is, most entrepreneurs aren’t exactly sure which business model they are building. And that leads to mismatched strategies, mismatched marketing, mismatched pricing, mismatched offers and so on. Nothing fits together just right. You feel like you have all the pieces, but you just can’t figure out how to pull them together in a way that works.

So is it time for a Plan B?

Well, you probably already know in your heart of hearts whether you are on the right path or not—even if it seems like it’s not coming together for you. But in case you need a few thought starters to help you figure it out, here are a couple of questions to play with.

1. What does Plan B represent to me? What ‘promise’ does it hold?
Perhaps your Plan B represents security, a steady paycheck, not having to work so dang hard, not having to stretch or risk. Get really clear with yourself what need is met by your Plan B.

2. What if I made it my top priority to spend 30% of my workweek dedicated to bringing more of that promise into my existing business and life? What would I be spending my time on?

3. Am I willing to do what it takes to make what I’m currently doing successful?

If you answer yes, some things are going to have to change. You may need to start saying NO to those tolerations. You may have to STOP working so hard and cut out low payoff activities that give you the illusion of accomplishment, but don’t move you forward. You may have to start making bigger, bolder moves toward your goal. You may need to ask for help.

More often than not, with careful thought and soul searching, we find that Plan B isn’t really what we need. And by admitting that we become more committed to purposeful, well planned action in creating the business impact and life that we know is possible.

One caveat/disclaimer*– I firmly believe that there are certain times where Plan B is NOT optional. If you are in financial crisis, if you can’t pay your housing, heat, food or vehicle costs you must take responsible action and be fully committed to Plan B or C or any plan that gets money in the door, food on the table and a roof over your head. The dream, the passion, the purpose path—will have to wait while you stabilize your life and prepare a solid foundation upon which to take action.

Author's Bio: 

Shawn Driscoll helps visionary entrepreneurs build successful, high impact, high income businesses in a way that’s authentic and true to their values. She guides them to discover their unique Signature Advantage ™ and become a recognized authority in their market while spending their days doing work they love. Claim your complimentary copy of her free audio class “The Signature Program Payoff” at www.YourSignatureProgram.com