This one question changed how I looked at contingency plans

Hello friends and welcome back to the Product in Public newsletter, where I give you an inside look at how I help companies attract capital and build better products.

Before we get to today's newsletter, here’s some of the content I’m consuming that you might find interesting.

What I’m consuming

This week I pressed harder into my journey into learning how to write code. I’ve piddled with learning various languages in the past, but this week I doubled down on my efforts towards being a legitimate programmer.

One of the best resources I have found is the CS50 lessons, from Harvard, which are free on YouTube. I’m through the first four two-hour lessons and have been taking notes.

If you’d like to copy those notes, I’ve published them live here.

What will you do if you are wildly successful?

Most business owners focus on the negative consequences that can arise in a business. Sometimes it's the positive results that can be just as problematic.

Take for example the Line12 venture fund that I launched in 2014.

It was a first-of-its-kind, ideation-stage startup fund built inside a credit union. The idea was to be the seed capital for entrepreneurs in our community.

As part of the creation of the fund, I created a Board of Advisors who were intended to help me keep the fund on track.

During one of our pre-launch planning sessions, the Board members discussed what we should do if the fund failed. That is except for Bruce Hayes. Bruce flipped that concern on its end and asked a question that I think about every time I launch a new venture.

What will you do if you are wildly successful?

When Bruce said that to me I thought he was making a joke. He wasn’t. Bruce encouraged me to consider what would happen if the launch of the fund went so well that we got in more deal flow than the team could handle quickly. If that happened, applicants might get frustrated with a slow response time. That in turn could lead to negative press or a negative pull on the fund’s reputation.

Sure enough, on launch day, we had so many quality applicants that we exceeded the capital that had been set aside to beta-test the program. Fortunately, I had planned for that contingency because of Bruce’s advice.

This week I had the opportunity to pass along Bruce’s wisdom to a client. They had landed a contract with a local chain to test out their products (👋🏼 Kendrick). I encouraged him to limit the amount of product he placed in each location but to also plan for how he could quickly respond if his products sold out quickly (i.e. what if you are wildly successful?).

What does that look like in your own business or even in your career?

What if the advertising campaign you run is so powerful that you get more orders than you can fulfill?

What happens if you are oversubscribed in your funding round and you have to leave out investors that you’d like to have onboard? Yes, that happens sometimes.

What do you do if your career is going so well that you are offered a promotion, which means you’d have to move your family to somewhere you aren’t interested in living?

We spend most of our lives planning for bad contingencies. I hope I’ve convinced you to consider the flip side as well. Because its those instances that few people are prepared for and they can have just as dire outcomes.

📣Quote of the week

With one eye on the destination, there is only one eye with which to find the way - unknown.

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