The Not-So-Hidden Secret to Small-Business Success

The authors of ‘Take Charge of Your Talent’ help you identify the valuable resources all around you — from staff to technology to friends — and use them to grow a successful business.

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In order to grab opportunities to grow your business, first you need to see them. These opportunities are all around us. We call them resources. In fact, everything any of us has ever accomplished has been through the use of resources. And here’s a bit of good news: You may already have access to all the resources you need to realize your greatest hopes.

Thomas Edison knew how critical resources were. He kept a storeroom in his West Orange, New Jersey, laboratory filled with an odd assortment of materials he collected from his well-traveled friends. The workers in his lab — each hoping to achieve some breakthrough in a particular invention — were free to check out any of these resources to see how many uses they could find for each one and how different resources worked together in creative ways.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have those kinds of resources avail­able to you as you sought to realize your hopes? In fact, you do. They don’t just exist in one room or laboratory. They are the people, places and things all around you. And they are simply waiting for you to check them out. With search engines, social media sites and crowdsourcing, you have a resource laboratory with millions more resources than Edison enjoyed.

Here’s an approach we’ve used successfully to help people tap the resources they need. It focuses on how to expand your list of resources, use valuable ones more intensively and create some­thing new from fresh connections. Use each of the elements indi­vidually or collectively for maximum effect.

Your resource power-up

1. The 100 resource challenge (list your resources and keep add­ing to them) Most people underestimate their resources. Now’s your time to get reconnected to them. Remember, your resources can be people, places and things. With this challenge, you gradually grow your resource treasures until you have all you need and more. Try listing all the ones you can think of and then adding one more each day for 90 days. By the time you get to 100 (or much sooner), you will either have achieved your objective or be well on your way.

We know a man who, while recovering from a brain injury, wanted to create a learning app for people like himself. Movement was slow at first, but as his list of resources grew, so did his progress. Start making your list now. Bet you can’t get to 50 in the next 30 minutes.

2. The 100 percent resource usage challenge (get the most from each resource) Remember when a phone was just a phone? Now you have a phone that’s a memo pad, camera, game platform, computer and more. Go through your growing list of resources and check to see if you’re using everything they can provide. Target your most promising resources, and ask yourself what it would take to feel like you are get­ting 100 percent from them. By the time you feel like you are getting 100 percent from 10 of your resources, you will either have achieved your objective or be well on your way.

What resources can you be using more fully? One business owner we know asked his friend to host a dinner party of his friends where he could present them all with a new service he was offering. Thirty people showed up at the party, seven people agreed to sample the new service and everyone had a great timeStop being so reasonable. Make a healthy stretch.

3. Resource mash-up (connect available resources) A mash-up is a creative combination or mixing of content from dif­ferent sources to create a new element. Whether in music, film or software applications, mash-ups are great ways to discover new possibilities in existing resources. With this exercise, you get to connect available resources. Rather than starting from scratch, put together available components and quickly achieve results.

Once a week, pick any obsta­cle to realizing your hope and see if a mash-up can help you to break the logjam. You can pick several resources at random and see how combining them might create some­thing unanticipated and useful. Invite others to participate. They may see new combinations that you’re missing. When you’ve done this successfully five or six times, you will have a powerful awareness of the possibilities around you.

We know a corporate refugee who started her business with a group of immigrants, her nearby woods, and a website she had been browsing. The result was a manufacturing company that supplied green jobs for refugees and others in the community who needed safe, meaningful and rewarding employment.

What resources can you mash up?

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