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Options Always Lead to Success

Positive thinking and hard work are a clear path to success. However, an unusually high number of economic and political events have recently challenged the viability of some businesses in the CTA community. This is not the first time the tech community has faced adversity, but this is the first time in 10 years it’s happened with so many potentially dark possibilities looming on the horizon.

When I started my first company in 2008, there were probably more dark futures, but I either didn’t see them or they weren’t as easy to see. Economic outlooks these days are like a 10-day weather forecast: They’re always interesting, but they’re only right half the time.

I’ve always been a saver. I learned at an early, pre-bar-mitzvah age from my father to put away a percentage of everything I’ve earned for a rainy day. It wasn’t a matter of if I’d need it, it was when I’d need it. What I didn’t learn until I hit my 30s is that it isn’t about saving, it’s about creating options. It’s not what the money could buy, it’s the options the savings create and how it makes me feel. 

Exploring Possibilities

For me, this cycle of creating options through deal flow, different structures and product roadmap forks not only provides sound business solutions, it creates the right attitude that enables success.

I’ve written in past i3 articles about the importance of communicating with all stakeholders. However, no amount of communication can replace the need for options. Options take time to work out and doing that can distract from the core mission. For non-entrepreneurial employees and clients, even discussing options can induce fear and uncertainty.

Imagine finishing an all-day product planning session and declaring, “OK, now everything that we just planned may not work, and if it doesn’t, let’s pivot.” Think about telling your vice president of sales, “Great job. But if this pending purchase order doesn’t come through, we need you to go out and book the team on another project.” These things happen when you’re looking at options. While my staff would probably never admit it, I’d bet that openly discussing the options caused more than one person to lose a lot of accrued confidence in our company’s ability to execute. Though increasing options is always better for business, the cost options create is real. Pivoting is the king of all options and carries an internal luxury tax to deploy.

Still, the way in which options are pitched and created is as important as the options themselves. I always have a Plan C, but typically only share up to Plan B. About once a month, we are left with only one viable option for one reason or another after a scenario shakes out.

Be careful: Reducing options can lead to a downward spiral. It’s a riptide that’s very difficult to get out of unscathed. With the constant barrage of negative economic forecasts, policy changes and client rollbacks, it’s easy to scale back options to fit the needs. Stay in front of the shifting political and economic conditions by keeping your options calculated and open. Options always lead to success.

Jake Sigal