Most entrepreneur that fail are quick to offer a litany of constraints that caused their demise -- not enough money, time, customers, or support from the right players. Ironically, as a startup investor and mentor, I have seen too many failures caused by just the opposite -- too much money spent too soon, taking time to get product perfection, and assuming customers will wait.
In reality, resource constraints should be seen by startups a competitive advantage, by forcing them to develop new markets, and to think differently and act differently than existing players. The result, called resourcefulness, allows entrepreneurs to create opportunities in the face of scarcity. It allows them turn resource constraints into stunning new businesses.
In this context, constraints might more reasonably be seen as beautiful by entrepreneurs, just as they are described in a new book, "A Beautiful Constraint," by renowned marketing consultants Adam Morgan and Mark Barden. I like the way the authors outline how to see and turn constraints from punitive to liberators of new possibilities and opportunities, as follows:
Some entrepreneurs never get past the victim stage for constraints. They see every constraint as an inhibitor to their ability to realize their ambition, and an excuse for not persevering. Others proceed to the neutralizing stage, which means they tackle problems as they are encountered, and get some satisfaction by finding a way around each one. It's still a hard road to success.
The smarter entrepreneurs jump quickly to the transformer stage, where constraints are proactively or responsively used to prompt wholly different and potentially breakthrough new approaches and solutions. They even impose constraints on themselves and their team to stimulate better thinking and new possibilities. Then they size the potential in the constraint.
We live in a world of over-abundance of choices, yet seemingly ever-increasing constraints, driven by a scarcity of time, expertise, and money. How entrepreneurs respond to these will become a larger and larger determinant of startup growth, competitive position, and success. What is your resource constraint mindset and action plan today?
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