Single point of failure (Plan 2)

There’s a line that I love from a comic book (Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #541, for the geeks out there):

    Mayor Sadie Sinclair: So.. Plan B?
    Cyclops: No. Not Plan B. Plan 2. “Plan B” implies we only have 26.

If there’s one lesson anyone leading a business should take from COVID-19, it’s that relying solely on a “Plan 1” is risky.

When there’s a single point of failure in our business or marketing strategy, it creates business risk. All it takes is one thing going wrong around that single point of failure, and your whole business is thrown into upheaval and crisis.

We can’t plan for EVERY eventuality.

But we can identify singular points of failure around our revenue-generation strategy (a fancy name for “marketing”), and come up with a “Plan 2” to ensure that no single point of failure can cause our income to fail.

I recommend having a lunch meeting with yourself and a piece of paper, and at least sketching a “Plan 2” for key single points of failure around your People, Programs, Platforms, and Products.

People

In the early 2000’s Cory Rudl’s Internet Marketing Center was THE hub for online marketers.

At a time before Facebook, and when Google was just starting to experiment with ads, Cory Rudl’s company was generating $8m a year in revenues through Cory’s thought leadership and software.

But that all came to a sudden end when, in 2005, Cory died in a horrific car crash at a California speedway.

Programs

Many of the systems we rely on day-to-day in our businesses are underpinned by a single piece of technology.

For example, the Flash software has been a staple of the web since 1993; part of the glue that made the internet work. It was used for everything from games, to complex web animations, to tracking users between websites.

But the beginning of the end for Flash came in 2010 when Steve Jobs announced Flash would not be supported on Apple’s wildly popular iOS devices: iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone.

When Flash was officially discontinued in 2020, it brought a Chinese railway that depended on this “glue that made the internet work” to a standstill, as the timetabling software it relied on no longer worked.

Platforms

In the mid 2000’s, a good friend had a small website that generated over $50,000 per month in ad revenue through a single ad network.

When the ad network made some changes to their system, my friend’s website was cut off from the source of revenue he relied on, and he went from $600,000 a year to $0.

Products

Prior to 2020, a lot of thought leader colleagues and friends made substantial money from speaking gigs, and in-person training and facilitation events.

When the pandemic hit, this income quickly ground to a halt – forcing many of them to quickly innovate new (digital) methods of product delivery, and forcing others to simply suck it up and wait until their preferred means of delivering their expertise-as-a-product was possible again.