Just imagine – what if you didn’t have the constraints that you think you do. Like… What if you’re wrong?
On the other hand, what if you imposed constraints on purpose to see what would happen?
Microbusiness owners face an incredible number of limitations, hurdles, and constraints. Some exist because of real-world shortcomings and roadblocks, some exist because of our particular market or industry, and some – believe it or not – are self-imposed. In this article we’ll look at common constraints we face, examine ways to remove them, and look at ways to succeed by imposing constraints on yourself and your business on purpose.
Real world constraints
Microbusinesses face different constraints than larger businesses. They often have less capital, fewer resources, and smaller markets. Yet, microbusinesses can be successful if they understand these constraints and use them to their advantage.
Microbusinesses often have less capital than larger businesses. This means they must be more efficient in their use of resources. They also need to be creative in how they generate revenue. One way to do this is to tap into niche markets that are underserved by larger businesses.
Microbusinesses also have smaller markets. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On one hand, it can be easier to reach potential customers since there are fewer competitors. On the other hand, there may be less demand for the product or service. To succeed in a small market, microbusinesses need to have a differentiated offering that meets the specific needs of their customers.
Despite these challenges, microbusinesses can succeed if they understand and embrace their constraints. By being efficient with their resources, creative in their revenue generation, and focused on meeting the needs of their customers, microbusinesses can build a successful business despite the challenges they face.
The number one constraint faced by microbusiness owners is time. There are simply not enough hours in the day to complete all
the tasks we need to accomplish in a timely manner, there are not enough moments for us to sit and think and improve and develop ourselves, and we find ourselves without enough time to explain our methods to the few employees we may have. While we can’t alter the existence of time, we CAN do a better job of focusing on what is important. There is a difference between being busy versus being productive. Yes we are always busy, but are we always actually getting things done? If we peel away the layers, we can remove the constraint of time by realizing the areas where our time is best spent.
Similarly we can remove the constraints surrounding financial resources, human resources, marketing, and more by bartering, bargaining, and simply investing in our business. There are tons of great articles about ways to remove these constraints – including some I’ve written here and elsewhere – so I’ll let you read those when you have the time. For now, I’d really like to focus on the idea of self-constraint ON PURPOSE.
Implement Constraints To Achieve Success
In any business, there are always going to be constraints. It’s how you handle those constraints that will determine your success.
Microbusinesses are no different. In fact, we often face even more constraints than our larger counterparts. But it’s how we use those constraints to our advantage that makes us successful.
Here are some tips for using constraints to your advantage in a microbusiness:
- Use them to focus your efforts.
Constraints can help you focus on what’s important and weed out anything that isn’t essential to your success. When you’re limited in terms of resources, time, or money, you have to be selective about how you spend those precious commodities. You may discover that the hurdles you thought you faced aren’t really the most important ones to focus on.
- Use them to spur creativity.
Constraints can also spur creativity. When you’re faced with a problem, thinking outside the box is often necessary to find a solution. Constraints force you to think differently and come up with creative solutions that you might not have otherwise considered. Microbusiness owners excel at creative thinking (more on that below), but we can also struggle with tunnel vision. Take the blinders off, think outside the constraints that are easy to identify, and you may discover limitations you didn’t know you were facing.
3 . Use them to build a strong team.
Working within constraints can also help you build a strong team of employees or partners who are committed to helping the business succeed. When everyone is working together towards a common goal, great things can happen. If you have people on your team who aren’t fully on board, now is the time to draw your circle tighter and constrain your team’s size by removing those who aren’t contributing.
- Constrain your business operations.
Limiting the scope of your business is absolutely key – I’ve written about this before and certainly will again. If you try to be all things to all customers, you WILL fail. If you’re feeling like you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do, perhaps the answer is that you are trying to do too much.
- Experiment with constraints through roleplaying and tabletop exercises.
You can be more successful in your own microbusiness by experimenting with constraints through roleplaying and use of tabletop exercises. In the world of emergency management, an area in which I trained many years ago, the use of tabletop exercises was key to understanding and identifying hazards and issues. The exercise involved sitting all the stakeholders down at a table, getting out all our notebooks and standard operating procedures, and talking through a scenario in order to figure out how we’d respond to it in real life. You can do the same thing with your microbusiness in order to find creative ways to success.
What Should You Experiment With?
There are a few key constraints that every microbusiness should experiment with in order to find the right balance for their particular business. The first is time: how much time are you willing to devote to your business each week? This will determine how much you can realistically get done and how quickly you can grow.
The second constraint is money: how much capital do you have to invest in your business? This will affect everything from what products or services you can offer to how quickly you can expand.
The third constraint is resources: what skills, knowledge, and connections do you have at your disposal? This will directly impact what type of business you can start and how successful you can be.
All of these constraints need to be considered when starting a microbusiness, and it’s important to experiment with different combinations to find the right fit for your unique situation. Don’t be afraid to try something new or challenge yourself; that’s how we learn and grow!
You should also closely examine the niche you have identified for your business, and experiment with adding to or subtracting from that niche. You can easily do this by publishing content and advertising about additional services or products that are adjacent to your current niche in order to gauge interest. For direct example – I was 100% certain that my bike shop would benefit from pickup and dropoff service, that customers would book my van driver solid, and he’d have such a steady stream of people asking for their bicycles to be picked up for service that we wouldn’t be able to keep up. After a few months of advertising that service though, even FREE pickup, we found that that simply wasn’t the case. As a result, I’ve constrained resources by not committing a staff member to drive the van, and limiting available days and times that the van is on the road.
The Bottom Line
This article has discussed the unique constraints that microbusinesses face and how to overcome them. I hope you have found it informative and helpful in thinking about how to start or grow your own microbusiness. Remember, the key to success is understanding what makes YOU different and using that to YOUR advantage. With a little hard work and creativity, you can make your microbusiness thrive by identifying the constraints you actually face – not just the obvious ones – and even by imposing constraints on purpose. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and remember that the easiest way to impose healthy constraints is by saying “no” (read more about that here).