“If the last two years taught us anything, it’s that having a Plan B is vital,” says Andrew Maren, founder and CEO of FinTech firm ProfitShare Partners. “Your Plan A should include a review of 2022 to repeat what worked and avoid what didn’t, as well as an updated SWOT analysis.”

Your SWOT analysis, Maren notes, is a strategic planning and management tool to help you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats related to your business, particularly with regard to competition outlining goals.

“Think of it this way,” Maren suggests. “It’s Valentine’s Day, and you’ve spent all day in meetings, seeing clients, and troubleshooting at the office. Romance has not been on your mind.

“As you drive home, you hear the DJ mention Valentine’s Day, and see a smart guy in the car next to you with a huge bouquet of flowers on his passenger seat… It’s too late for Plan A – which would have been to take your partner to dinner, complete with flowers and champagne…”

Here, he notes, is where the agility and innovation of the entrepreneur can save the day. “Plan B not only has to look like it was your Plan A all along but it’s also got to be convincing and effective. Drive to your nearest grocery store and buy a cooler bag, ice, and the best sparkling wine they have.

“Then choose a variety of easy-to-prepare foods you know your partner loves, and buy an apron. The latter is important,” Maren warns.

On arriving home, he suggests the first thing you do before getting out of the car is to put the apron on. “This shows forethought and makes Plan B look like it has taken careful consideration – as Plan A would have.”

With the sparkling wine in the cooler bag of ice and a package of tasty treats that just need warming up, Maren says you’re almost at the winning post if you look convincing… “It’s all about your confidence and ability to convince your partner you really wanted to spend the evening treating them to all the delights they love.”

As in life, so in business…

Switching plans to meet changing market conditions is not new to SME owners, Maren asserts. “The great value of an SME or solo business is your ability to pivot to meet new and unexpected conditions as they arise.

“Just as certain small operations scrambled to set up e-commerce stores and delivery options during the pandemic, SMEs are built on the very core of agility and being able to adapt rapidly kept many a small business afloat,” he says.

“As we head into 2023, we must remember all of the things we learned from 2020 and the pandemic, as well as what worked for us in 2022. The businesses that stand the best chance of facing up to whatever 2023 throws at them are those that have thought through the possibility that everything they have planned for the year may be disrupted, and so they have created a ‘what if’ solution.”

Maren notes that being a FinTech company, ProfitShare Partners fared a lot better than other organisations that provide access to finance during the pandemic. “It’s vital that every SME remembers that sudden global disruption – not so much for the horror it caused, but for the way it made the entrepreneurial thinker respond swiftly with an alternative.

“Remember, as you’re driving home on 14 February and you suddenly realise you didn’t book a restaurant or even buy flowers for your partner, there is always a Plan B.”

And if you believe in yourself and your strength of spirit as an entrepreneur, chances are you’ll have a Valentine’s Day dinner, he concludes. “For every Plan A that’s gone awry, there’s been a Plan B that looked just like it was scheduled for months. It’s how we cope in the ‘anything can happen’ era.”