The Power of Limitation

We generally believe the more you have, the better. More marketing is always better than less marketing, right? And more marketing budget to spend how ever you wish is the best!

But today I want to take things in a different direction. I’ve learned you can often get a LOT more from being limited. If you’ve ever tried to do a lot with very little, you know you have to get creative. I firmly believe the reason many small firms have more creative marketing is they have no other choice — having less budget means you have to think out of the box.

In other words, creativity comes from limitation.

Conversely, firms with lots of budget tend to throw money at problems. They employ progressively expensive solutions that all too often bring limited returns.

Less can be more. My office desktop, from which I still like to accomplish some tasks, has gotten quite old and s-l-o-w. I should replace it, but I’m cheap when it comes to computers. So over the past year, while the desktop has taken 5 to 10 minutes to fully boot and update, I’ve picked up my guitar and practiced blues licks.

Over time the blues licks have turned into blues solos. Day after day of riffing for 10 minutes while I wait for the old computer to finish ticking and gurgling has turned me into a better-than-I-thought-I’d-ever-be blues guitarist. The next step might be to get on Craigslist, form a band, and play some paying bar gigs.

…and all from the limitation of an old, slow computer.

On the topic of music, limitations have been responsible for the sounds of many famous artists. Part of the reason legendary Black Sabath guitarist Tony Iommi plays the way he does are his fingers are shortened from an industrial accident earlier in life.

White Stripes frontman Jack White has always acknowledge limitation is at the root of what makes the band unique. From their limitation on color — red and white only — to limitation to classic rock motifs and primal drumming. They would not be the famous White Stripes without those limitations.

Turn your limitations into positives. Embrace your have-not’s. What you DON’T have may have more to do with what makes you original than what you DO have.

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