Resourcefulness is always a telltale marker of an effective leader. Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a business, a manager running a department, or an employee looking to get ahead, a resourceful mindset can really set you apart from your peers.
Simply saying “be resourceful” seems slightly redundant, as we’re all constantly looking for ways to bring a project in under budget or uncover a quick fix for a complex issue. However, truly resourceful people are constantly looking for creative ways that they can leverage their current situation for maximum benefit, beyond quick fixes and immediate financial gain.
Here are a few tips to help you and your team be more resourceful, without losing sight of the bigger picture:
1. Put Work Into Your Relationships
Part of being successful is developing a strong network of people you trust, respect, and admire.
This means putting work into your connections in a way that sets you up to get more in return from those relationships, whether that return comes in the form of referrals, money, or even social status.
Never be afraid of doing favors for clients, employees, or business connections. Favors don’t make you weak, they make you aware for the potential of your network.
Remember that people have long memories, and you never know when they might be in a position to return your favor in spades.
2. Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Resourceful people are resourceful because they have the knowledge to truly see what is in front of them.
The true potential of a situation isn’t always easy to recognize. Growing your knowledge also increases your ability to provide value to others, and will make you more in demand.
3. Be Honest About Your Weaknesses
Resourcefulness is about recognizing actions you can take with your current materials and skills. You don’t need to know everything!
Learn to recognize your weaknesses, and consider delegating tasks you find boring or difficult to an assistant, a consultant, or an employee. This gives you time to prioritize and focus your resources on the things about your work that you excel at or love doing.
4. Focus on Getting Things Done
David Allen’s “GTD” or “Getting Things Done” methodology is one of my favorite pieces of business advice.
Simply put, Allen’s method is about organizing and prioritizing your to-do list in a way that makes overwhelming tasks seem much more manageable. It’s about getting your to-do list out of your head and systematizing your daily tasks. The main benefit is that you can quickly see everything that you need to do, and focus on the item that need urgent attention.
Whether you use Allen’s method or a different one, the main point here is that you have a system for working methodically. If you are constantly reacting to emails or requests, you won’t have the time or the resources to focus on those big-picture tasks.
5. Don’t Take Shortcuts
Resourcefulness means getting things done quickly and efficiently. It doesn’t mean cutting corners and sacrificing quality.
Taking shortcuts might be attractive when you’re on a deadline or have a hefty workload, but in the end it will only generate more work, or worse–lead to the loss of a client or customer.
6. Optimize Your Systems
Just like your personal productivity, your business’s productivity can be enhanced by streamlining systems in a way that helps people be more organized and efficient with their time.
A review of your current systems could reveal bottlenecks, poor communication, or bureaucratic processes that are holding you back.
If you and your employees are having trouble figuring out where the problem lies, consider hiring a business consultant for a fresh perspective.
7. Be Realistic
There’s no point in aiming for the sky only to crash and burn. Big, long-term goals are good, but you need to be clear about what you can achieve with your current resources and time constraints. Instead of tackling huge tasks on tight deadlines, try breaking your goals down into smaller “chunks” that are easier to complete.
Communicate clearly and honestly with your staff or co-workers about what can be reasonably achieved, and manage the expectations of clients and stakeholders.
8. If It’s Free…Use It!
Time and again I’ve seen companies pay a premium price for a product or service that they could easily get for free. Can you use Facebook as a customer service platform rather than paying tens of thousands for custom software? Can you barter a few hours of your time for a license to an expensive tool? Can you offer to provide a case study to a business in exchange for them letting you try out their latest product? Can you leverage connections in the media to get free articles published about your business rather than paying for advertising?
When you get down to it, there are plenty of ways get free stuff–you just have to ask the right question!
For more great business tips, check out my interview with Michael Gerber on The Optimized Geek podcast.