When Not Having Enough Is A Good Thing
When I left consulting about a decade and a half ago, I went from an environment where I had plenty of support structures and resources at my disposal, to what was essentially me, a laptop and a desk in my home office.
It was a massive shift, and one that required me to rethink what I focused on and how I got things done.
Especially since we chose to bootstrap the business. As such, every dollar had to be carefully allocated and spent.
Which meant that I couldn’t rely on anyone to get things done for me, I’d have to figure it out for myself. Everything from sales to marketing to accounting to client issue resolution. From strategic stuff such as what messages to send out to a specific prospect, to tactical things such as how to get the best deal on a car rental for a business trip.
That’s what entrepreneurs sign up for when we decide to leave the confines of an established entity to go chase down a dream. It’s par for the course (unless you’re a well funded venture from the get-go).
And while it’s undoubtedly an arduous path, the bootstrappers’s poverty of resources is actually one of his or her biggest assets.
When you don’t have an accounting team to carry your load, you’re forced to learn the fundamentals of how the accounts are pulled together, and every line item that impacts your profitability.
When you don’t have a marketing team, you’re forced to think hard about the types of cost-effective (or free) marketing tools you can leverage, the content you need to produce and how each cog in that marketing wheel tangibly drives sales (or doesn’t).
When you don’t have a lead generation engine, you’re forced to think creatively about how you reach out to clients, what you say, how you show value and how you need to work to close a deal.
It is, in fact, the entrepreneur’s poverty of resource that drives efficiency, that drives innovation, that forces one to usurp the status quo.
It’s what ensures that the entrepreneur develops a fundamental, intrinsic understanding of the business, so that when the business does scale and grow (to whatever extent they want it to), they know what they’re delegating, outsourcing and out-tasking. They know what it takes to get things done.
In this sense, not having enough isn’t a bad thing. It’s a forcing mechanism - one that ensures careful self-selection of those committed to the cause versus those who don’t. It’s a mechanism for discipline, ensuring that you’re focused on maximum impact for the effort that you’re putting in. It’s a mechanism for efficiency and, at the same time, creativity, as you try and wring maximum value out of every last dollar.
The bottom line is, poverty of resource is an essential aspect of the entrepreneurial journey. And far from being a crutch, it is actually one of the entrepreneur’s biggest strengths.