Resources Needed Are Often Overestimated

March 12, 2012 at 7:34 am Leave a comment

“You can often do with the limited resources you have…”

To get most goals accomplished, there are 3 key elements: time, energy and resources. For example, to open a small business, no one would argue that success doesn’t come overnight or deny the fact that it requires a lot of work from the founder(s). It doesn’t hurt either to have access to some resources, chief among them CASH but also people resources (not necessarily employees; these can be advisors or mentors specially the ones doing it for free in the early part of a business).  The same could be said of becoming an expert, a skilled artist or buying one’s first home.

We humans have a tendency to overvalue the resources necessary to achieve a goal.

Consider for example, the MessagePad by Apple and the Palm Pilot. It took $500M to develop the prototype for the MessagePad but only $3M for the Palm Pilot. Why did it take so much to develop the MessagePad compared to the Palm Pilot? (It think it may have something to do with Apple had that much money to spend).


I think this tendency to “throw” as much money onto something happens way too often with government agencies, non-profit organizations, companies, entrepreneurs, CEOs, students and in fact with most of us including this author. How many times have you heard people complain that they could have succeeded if  they had more money or more connections?

The very fact that we see day in and day out start-ups with meager resources take over large companies that should have squashed them is a testament that time/energy  can overcome what we might call lack of resources. Think of companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Redbox, Apple, Microsoft…Each of these companies should have been eliminated by their better funded competitors: Google by Yahoo, Amazon by Barnes and Noble; Facebook by Google or any other established Internet company; Netflix by Blockbuster; Apple by Microsoft/IBM and Microsoft by IBM.

A sad consequence of this is that many worthwhile dreams die prematurely because of the illusion that resources are lacking. Energy (that we can call passion which in turns can fuel ingenuity and bring about hard work or time commitment) can often cure this little problem of so called “lack of resources”.  When the dreams don’t die prematurely, their achievement might come at too high of a price because we want to “borrow” the resources we don’t have. While I don’t have the stats to prove it, I have no doubt that many entrepreneurs could have built their companies by bootstrapping instead of having to borrow or take on Venture Capital money as early as they did. (Just because you can get the money doesn’t mean you need to get it; just because you have the money doesn’t mean you have to throw it at the problem).

Some questions that might be useful to ask when going after a goal that might require significant resources:

  • Have others achieved similar goals with limited or less resources than I have?
  • Can I copy their models?
  • Is it possible that I have more resources compared to others pursuing similar goals? Could that be a limiting factor (stymieing ingenuity for example)?
  • What existing resources that I have that may be unique that I could leverage? For example, if I don’t have the financial resources, could I leverage my social capital (connections)? What do I bring to the pursuit of this goal that’s unique to me or my organization?

Entry filed under: Leadership, Small Business, Sucess. Tags: , , , , , .

The power of visualization CEO=Chief Energy Officer

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