I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Ben Casnocha to speak with him about one of the most common challenges that startup founder members of our community express, namely the question of how to envision and plan for a career in the startup world. Ben brings a unique perspective to the topic as co-author of "The Startup of You," with Reid Hoffman, and someone who now runs a venture fund and continues to work closely with entrepreneurs on a regular basis.
Ben stressed how important it is for entrepreneurs to be able to plan, and shared with me the framework that he and Reid call "ABZ Planning," which turns out to be very practical way to think about planning and adapting your career. It's common for startup founders to be incredibly driven and focused on the success of their business, often to exclusion of many other things in their life, but Ben stressed that in his observation some of the most successful tech start-ups have what he calls a "Plan A" when they start their businesses, and also a "Plan B" and a "Plan Z."
What he went on to tell me made a lot of sense, and I think it is highly practical advices for any startup founder who wants to have an extraordinary career. It's advice I recommend members of our community follow. Consider Plan A as the thing that you are doing right now. Imagine Plan B to be something that you would go do if the world suddenly changed. It could be also something that you might go do that is different but still related to your current gig or if you got bored in your current job. What would you "pivot" to?
The concept of the word “pivot” has become a sort of a cliché in the start-up world, and Ben described how the concept really resonated with him since he used to play a lot of basketball, and it is all about having the ball in your hand, having one foot on the ground and one foot that can swing, where pivoting gives you limited flexibility from your current position. Anyways, it represents a very good nuance of adaptation which you will need when you have to switch from your own Plan A to Plan B, etc.
What is important to remember, Ben argues, is that your plan B needs to be something similar to what you are already doing. So ask yourself: "What are other things that I could be doing differently but are related to my current gig?"
After Plan B, comes Plan Z. Everyone needs a Plan Z. Anything can happen in the world or in your life, so when writing your plan Z, always think about the worst-case scenario and what your would do after it happens. Ben encourages everyone to have it written down--so get your pen and paper or other favorite note taking device out and try have yours done by the end of this post.
Anything can happen in the world or in your life, so it's just common sense to always be thinking about worst-case scenarios and what you would do after it happens. Spend some time to really think about it and write down your ABZ plans so you can continue your journey as an entrepreneur better prepared.
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