‘MacGyver’ your business to its full potential

Many of you will recall the television show MacGyver, about a guy whom I consider to be Mr Resourceful.

My son Jon used to love watching this as a child (with necessary support from his dad). He routinely disarmed bombs with paperclips; used chewing gum wrappers to fix fuses and applied duct tape with originality to save the day.

His influence was so strong on that generation that coming up with a resourceful solution was called, “MacGyverisms”.

How can we bring MacGyver’s ingenuity to our daily lives, work and growth as an entrepreneur?

Resourcefulness is the ability to make do with what you have, to see possibilities where no one else does, and to anticipate the challenges required of you.

It’s the ultimate lesson in a day and age so saturated with quick fixes and easy solutions. I also believe it is a key characteristic that entrepreneurs can develop, sharpen and apply.

MacGyver had a secret that we can make our own. He viewed his surrounding environment as fair game from which to draw his amazing solutions. In other words, he didn’t limit himself to the conventional use of any item or material. Hence, duct tape which is normally used to wrap boxes, could, in his mind, be equally used to keep an ailing aircraft in the air.

What many would overlook, he included and therefore saw many more applications for the everyday, common items to save the day.

Opportunities abound around us. Often, they don’t appear in lit up lights or with an “announcement”. Yet, to the person who is leaning forward and looking, they are able to connect the proverbial dots more often than not.

Here are some principles to embrace to build resourcefulness like MacGyver.

What can you do with what you have?

“A resourceful person can see opportunity when others only see obstacles,” said Garrett Gunderson, a bestselling author whose focus is on wealth-building and entrepreneurship.

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is,” said writer Ernest Hemingway.

These two quotes reinforce the idea that resourceful people tend to focus on what is within their control and what they can accomplish, rather than what they don’t have or limit themselves until they have the perfect opportunity.

You can focus on what isn’t working, why it can’t be done and who’s to blame, or you can focus on what is working, how it can be done and what you want to achieve. You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. You can move from “yes, but” to “yes, and” and “What if?.”

Is there another way of looking at the situation? Can I change what I see by changing my perspective?

“I do believe that out of adversity comes incredible resourcefulness,” said Amazing Race TV host Phil Keoghan.

“Obstacles, of course, are developmentally necessary: they teach kids strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience, and resourcefulness,” said Naomi Wolf, a feminist, journalist and former political advisor in the USA.

The lesson at hand is that adversity, challenges and obstacles are not always a bad thing. Many successful entrepreneurs have reframed their difficult family background or unstable financial situation to approach their future with confidence, purpose and hope. In so doing, they build on this characteristic of resourcefulness.

Learn to be appreciative and grateful. “Being truly thankful makes you infinitely more resourceful. By sincerely appreciating what you have, you find new and valuable ways to make use of it,” said Ralph Marston, a former American football player.

It may come as a surprise to you that highly successful people have also learnt the healthy habit of being deliberately appreciative and grateful. The interesting thing is how this intentional focus on being grateful appears to correlate with more opportunities being seen and taken.

I remind myself of this focus by accessing a free app. Others use a journal. Find something that works for you and build this competency.

See yourself as resourceful and an apt problem solver

“If you can see yourself more than just a victim, aha, now you’ve got the place to move into that is much more vital and creative and resourceful than being a victim,” said American actress Kelly Carlin-McCall.

There are many ways you may increase your problem solving ability. There are many sites available on the internet where the committed person may build their problem solving skills. I am aware of at least 18 tools that may be used to build the muscle of problem solving and the “six-pack of resourcefulness”.

Be relentless in your pursuit of resourcefulness

“If you want something you must become relentless for success, resourceful for what you need and resistant to excuses” — Anonymous.

South Africa has a traditionally high rate of small business failure in the first two years of a start up. There are many reasons for this, like little or no market research; no clear market; poor management of resources; entering into a highly overtraded space, etc. So factors around the “horse” or business model can definitely affect the success level of a start up. Yet failure is more often attributed to the “jockey” or the entrepreneur than to the “horse”. Thus a commitment to personal mastery, built upon a foundation of resilience and resourcefulness, will go a long way to building businesses for the long haul.

The CFE is looking for resilient young people who want to launch their own business, or scale their existing business.

For details, contact Yondi Titi at 021 201 1215 or yondi.titi@falsebay.org.za

Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) at False Bay College. His column appears once a month. Email comments or questions to steve.reid@falsebay.org.za or visit www.falsebayincubate.co.za for more about CFE.