There Is No Plan, Just Figure It Out

Listen to the podcast or read the blog.

In business, as in life, sometimes things happen that you can’t see coming. You just have to rise to the occasion, jump in, and figure it out.

What you’re about to read is a true story. 

On the surface, I’ll admit that it might not immediately seem like a lesson for a new small business owner, but there is something here that’s worth reflecting on. 

Plus it’s just too absurd not to share. 


I was in the middle of a zoom meeting when I noticed that my dog Gemma wasn’t in my home office with me. If you know Gemma, then you know how strange that is – she’s tied to us with an invisible tether, like she never wants her humans out of sight. 

The meeting wraps up, I take out my earbuds, and suddenly hear a lot of frantic chirping. 

Gemma had found a baby duckling and was sitting with it inside of my daughter’s playhouse outside on the patio. I calmly grab Gemma and put her inside the house. 

The duckling in the playhouse gets quiet for a moment – long enough for me to hear a second baby duckling that was trapped in the pool, swimming in circles with no way out over the five foot tall pool fence. 

Meanwhile, off in the distance, I can also hear what I assume is Momma Duck quacking in search of her missing kids. 

Okay, I thought, the duck in the playhouse is scared, but safe. Let’s get that duckling out of the pool.

There Is No Plan, Just Figure It Out | 321 Liftoff


The next few things happen quickly. 

I tried to lift the duckling to safety using the pool skimmer net. No good – he was scared and just kept swimming away. 

What can I Macgyver here? I look around. Pool toys – a raft. We had one, but it wasn’t out of the box yet. I threw a pool noodle into the water and draped a towel over it and the edge of the pool, effectively giving the duck a ramp from the water to the patio. 

I ran to the other end of the pool and tried to chase him toward the ramp. No luck, so I take a break. I exit the pool fence to think and check on the other duckling – still fine. 

I turn around and see the pool duckling, now out of the pool and on the patio. He’s still on the inside of the pool gate. I opened the gate, but he ran right back down the ramp and into the pool.

Well, at least the ramp works. 

There Is No Plan, Just Figure It Out | 321 Liftoff


Okay, I thought, I’m no help here. Who would they listen to? 

I hear Momma Duck again. I briefly contemplated calling animal control, but that felt like unnecessary force in a delicate situation. 

So, dumbfounded, I jumped over to YouTube, searched for “duck sounds,” played the first video I could find, and turned up my phone’s speaker volume. I must have looked like an idiot. 

To my surprise and delight, Momma Duck suddenly gets much louder. 

I pause the video and peer over my neighbors fence. There’s Momma Duck, standing there with two more small ducklings. 

I will admit to talking to her, telling her “hey, they’re over here!”

Somehow, hearing that the missing baby duck’s chirps were coming from my side of the fence, she gets it and flies over the wall. 

At this point, pool duckling is back out of the water and casually flies over the fence – making me feel extra dumb. 


Reunited, pool duckling is now following momma duck around the patio as they look for his brother. Slowly and cautiously, I walk behind to corral them toward the playhouse duckling. 

Momma Duck stops in front of the playhouse, but either she can’t see him, or he’s too scared to move, so momma duck keeps walking. 

When they were a safe distance away, I lifted the playhouse over the duckling and set it aside, exposing the playhouse duckling’s hiding place so he was now sitting in the middle of the patio. 

With him free, I get momma duck and the pool duckling back to the playhouse duck, and they’re finally all together. 

They walk toward the gate out of the backyard. I open it, setting them free. They meet the other two ducklings, who were waiting patiently on the other side. 

I stood there watching as they seemed to celebrate, then, eventually, they strolled down the sidewalk, following their mother in a line. 

There Is No Plan, Just Figure It Out | 321 Liftoff


That little adventure took 45 minutes and it wasn’t how I planned to spend my morning. But, it happened. I don’t know for sure if I added value, but I did my best to help the situation have a better outcome. 

Sometimes things happen that you can’t plan for – there’s not always a best practice for what you’ve got to do. You just have to figure it out.

When you’re zigging and zagging, navigating the twists and turns of starting and growing a business, this is going to happen a lot. 

Making it up as you go” is a common experience for many new entrepreneurs. 

And, it might make you uncomfortable. Perhaps, it’s a new muscle for you – that’s okay. You’re going to get lots of practice with it. 

It’s okay to feel thrown off when something unexpected happens too. Take a moment to collect yourself so that you can meet what’s next with creativity and a clear head. 

Your plans can quickly be interrupted by things you never saw coming. It’s not ideal, but it happens, and it’s your job to roll up your sleeves and figure it out.


Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.

It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.

It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.

And, that’s why it’s worth it.

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