We’ve talked about this before. Having a “Plan B” ready for action will make success no less sweeter and will make failure a whole lot easier to deal with — and less costly. For specific projects and promotions that you are in charge of, it’s relatively easy to create a Plan B. Simply calculate various possible disappointing outcomes, from not so good to terrible, and figure out how you would survive each.

For something larger and more complex — such as a whole business — you need to do a different type of thinking. Here’s a clever way to do that: Imagine a conversation between two of your main competitors. They are talking about your business. They have heard some very bad news about your company. Bad for you. Not so bad for them. What is it? Did you lose your biggest account? Did you blow your new product launch? Did your three top executives bail on you? Did your bank close your line of credit? Once you have a better idea of exactly what might go wrong, it’s relatively easy to create your Plan B. For each scenario, come up with a survival plan that makes sense. What would you do, for example, if …

* your cost of goods suddenly increased by 15%?

* your main customer dropped you?

* your most important employee suddenly quit?

* your building burned down?

That last scenario actually happened to me last week. A business I’m involved in — a book-publishing house in France — burned to the ground one night. Everything was lost. “Were we insured?” I asked my partner. “That’s what I’m looking into,” he replied. Imagine the scenario. Figure out a survival plan. Noodle over it for a few days and then write it down. Put the written document somewhere safe and keep a copy with a trusted colleague. Try it. I know it seems like extra work right now. But you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel when it’s done.