Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Relentless resourcefulness: the What, Why and How

 Reposted from my new Blog, The Business Co-Founder

The most important quality of an Entrepreneur is relentless resourcefulness; even Paul Graham agrees. In this post, I will cover
1. What is relentless resourcefulness?
2. Why is it important?
3. How do you build it?
So let’s start.

What is relentless resourcefulness?
The dictionary defines resourceful as ‘Able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.’ Relentless resourcefulness is simply resourcefulness + perseverance - or applying resourcefulness continuously, without giving up.

Why is it important for Entrepreneurs?
In startups, you will continuously come across situations that pose novel, difficult problems, for which there is no easy, obvious solution, and which force most people to give up. Only if you are relentlessly resourceful will you overcome these challenges, and not give up. This might take various forms e.g., your funding round did not come through - how do you become creative and bootstrap for another three months? OR your customer development interviews showed that your target market has no need for your product - how and where do you pivot?

How do you build it?
This Life Hacker article gave me the following equation, that makes complete sense
Resourcefulness = Necessity + Creativity + Persistence
So the only way to build resourcefulness is to build each of the constituent qualities.

Though not a quality, necessity signifies that you are most resourceful when you need to. This is why people often tell Entrepreneurs to quit their job; when you have no fallback, you become more resourceful.

You might not consider yourself very creative, but there is a big difference in the different kinds of creativity. As a blog post I wrote a while ago, Conceptual Creativity is what you need to be successful in Business. There are several interesting books you can read on this topic (list below). But here are my favorite tactics:
  • Question everything - try to look at the underlying assumptions and see what happens if you reverse them
  • Look for outliers and anomalies
  • When generating ideas, start with one idea - any idea, no matter how stupid. That gets your mind going
  • Think of ideas alone before and group sessions - group sessions encourage group think
  • Have fun and believe that you are creative
While there are several ways to be persistent (and tons of articles and Quora Answers on persistence/perseverance), I believe in one way more than any other way: Invest in the process, not the Outcome. No matter how much we believe in our qualities, our ability to change the world, the truth of the matter is that several circumstances are outside our control. ‘Luck’ plays a part - a huge part - in the success or failure of any endeavor. Market dynamics change, unforeseen things happen. The idea is the be emotionally tied to the process, and not the outcome. That way, you will not give up when you are faced with obstacles, because you did the best you could, and be truly, persistently, persistence

Further Reading: Creativity
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity
The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones
Further Reading: Persistence
Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life

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