Hardly a week passes without some study or article about what it takes to be an entrepreneur appearing. One of the latest purports that entrepreneurs are born, not made. While I couldn’t agree less, there is one quality that seems to be present in all successful entrepreneurs: resourcefulness.
Resourcefulness is a close cousin to ingenuity. My dictionary says it’s “clever at finding ways of doing things.” I think of it as valuing and using the resources at hand.
In her wonderful book, If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland tells would-be authors, You must become aware of this richness in you and come to believe in it. But it is like this: if you have a million dollars in the bank and don’t know it, it doesn’t do you any good.” It’s not just writers who need to take Ueland’s advice to heart.
The best way to cultivate resourcefulness is to purposely practice it in everyday life. Here are a few ways to do just that:
* Ask Resourceful Questions. Is there a better way? Who would find this useful? How can I do this in the most creative way? Questions like these will add momentum to your ideas and you’ll start bringing more of them to life.
* Go on an Idea Quest. “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum,” says Robert Wieder. “The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.”
Although entrepreneurs sometimes bemoan the fact that they have too many ideas, that doesn’t stop them from getting more. Ideas, after all, are our real stock in trade. Keeping the pump primed means paying attention to unlikely, as well as obvious, sources of inspiration.
Whenever your creative spirit needs a lift, intentionally go looking for ideas. Sign up for a seminar or sit in a park or mall and watch people. Visit a business you wouldn’t normally go to and open your mind to the unexpected.
* Find Your Funny Bone. Laughter not only reduces stress and has a positive impact on our health and well-being, it can also put us into a more resourceful state of mind. Last year, I stumbled across an audiobook at my library that had me in stitches. It was a collection of Prairie Home Companion’s Joke Shows. Lots of the jokes were corny, but there were plenty that were hilarious. I couldn’t stop telling my favorites to anyone who would listen. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that several great ideas for new projects popped into my head after this laughter fest.
* Notice and Respond. When I received a clipping about an interesting business idea from one of my subscribers, I also noticed this invitation printed above the story. It said, “Have you taken the bold move of stepping out into the world of entrepreneurial self-employment? Send the Tribune a 150-word description of your business and we will enter your business in our editorial lineup.”
Opportunities are everywhere if we open our eyes—and accept appropriate invitations.
* Make Brainstorming with a Group of Creative Thinkers Your New Hobby. There’s nothing quite like spending time getting and giving fresh ideas and perspectives. Start your own small group and commit to meeting (in person or by phone) once a month for half a year and see what happens. Sharing ideas with others opens your mind to new and better ideas of your own. Nice bonus.
Of course, events like Follow Through Camp are packed with creative brainstorms. Avoid such experiences at your own peril.
* Notice resourcefulness in action. I was delighted to receive my new copy of one of my all-time favorite books, Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland. Although I’ve read it twice, I promptly began reading it again. This true story of resourcefulness in action takes my breath away. It will take yours away, too.