What is Resourcefulness? Meaning, Examples & Importance

Why are we leaving resourcefulness to chance if there are ways to tap into it? Learn what resourcefulness is all about and how to develop it.
Iryna Viter
August 15, 2022

Resourcefulness is a highly-valued skill. It's becoming even more esteemed as the economy is starting to shrink. The budgets we used to have are cut left and right, and the only way out is to rely on working smarter, therefore, switch our resourceful selves on. 

What is resourcefulness?

By definition, resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. Meaning, you are using what you have — rather than what you’d like to have — to succeed and scale. Almost like working smarter, not harder. 

Part-mindset, part-strategy, resourcefulness helps ambitious leaders to innovate, surface efficiencies, and unlock previously untapped solutions.

Consider this example of resourcefulness to get a better understanding of what it means:

An example of resourcefulness

Tony Robbins, a world-recognized speaker and coach, once said:

“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that causes failure!”

And this applies to many situations at work and in personal life.

When you're resourceful, you know how to turn an old shoe into a new pair of boots.

resourcefulness example

Being resourceful is about being able to see potential in things that others might consider useless — it's about finding opportunity in a situation where there doesn't seem to be any.

In the end, it is not about how much money you spend on a project or how good it looks; it's about having good ideas that can be implemented quickly at a low cost and have a significant impact. Resourcefulness is an attitude, a way of approaching.

To be resourceful means:

  • Being strategic about how you leverage your resources;
  • Not wasting time and money;
  • Getting the best out of what you have;
  • Being flexible and adaptable;
  • Thinking outside the box;
  • Being willing to learn new skills or develop existing ones when necessary;
  • Looking for alternatives when faced with a problem rather than giving up or doing nothing at all.

The importance of resourcefulness

Being resourceful is a great skill one can develop, and it applies both to individual and company settings. As you become more resourceful, not only do you get more done, but you're also perceived as an innovator. Resourcefulness makes you more visible and competitive.

While being resourceful is inherently risky as it involves breaking the rules and taking chances, the risk is worth it at the end of the day. Resourceful leaders (and organizations) always come out as stronger. After all, working harder is so last century. Proving you can work smarter and be more nimble is the future. 

We’re all familiar with the expression “the rich get richer.”

We also know that resources can make the difference between success and failure. 

But it’s not just resources that can make your projects fly, it’s also “entrepreneurial bricolage”. 

In a study called “Creating Something from Nothing”, researchers from Johnson Cornell University examined 29 resource-constrained companies, where entrepreneurs managed to create and provide unique services by recombining already existing resources. Using their findings, the researchers coined the term “entrepreneurial bricolage”, which stands for a unique and, at this point, extremely valuable approach to resource environments. 

In simple terms, the study concludes that it’s not always about the resources you have — it’s about the way you use them. Being resourceful is, therefore, a matter of being smarter than the rest of the market when it comes to resource management. 

So what are those unique selling points of resourcefulness after all?

  • Cost efficiency — always looking for ways to optimize processes to be more efficient, thereby improving cost efficiency. Well-resourced businesses never have this imperative.  
  • Innovation — ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ —  a resourceful mindset surfaces new ideas and opportunities. Getting stuck in turf wars, politics, lack of alignment, and cultural issues — well-resourced “big players” tend to just miss out on innovation, Harvard Business Review found.  
  • Agility — scaling your business without your structure becoming bloated means you can stay lean and agile. This benefits the business by keeping employees connected to outputs, adapting quickly to new markets, and more. 
resourcefulness = cost efficiency + agility + innovation

But the thing is that resourcefulness shouldn’t just be reactive in response to resource constraints, it should be a proactive baked-in strategy to free up resources and revenue for growth, cultivate a culture of innovation and efficiency, and maintain a lean and responsive organization. 

This blog post is a part of the ebook. You can download the full ebook here:

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