Why a lack of resources leads to more creative solutions

If someone gave you £1,000,000 right now, would you know what to do with it? How about a team of 100 people for your business? Or perhaps an office in New York?

There’s a common misconception that if you have more money, more people and more resources, that you can do more than those with less. In some sense that would be correct, and yet there are a lot of people, businesses and works of art that have all the resources in the world, but don’t really do anything that amazing with them. There’s also the question of if you had all of the resources, would you know how to allocate appropriately?

Creativity is all about thinking differently, whether that’s artistically, financially, operationally. It’s about using what you have and doing something in a different way to others.

The film industry is a great example of people finding creating solutions to achieve what they want. For example, let’s say you wanted to be the next great film director, the next Steven Spielberg. In order for you to achieve that then you need to make a lot of films, you need to show the world that you are worthy of that title. However, no one is going to give an unknown and untested director, hundreds of millions of dollars to make a film, it just isn’t going to happen. First time directors are unlikely to even get a couple of hundred thousand to make something. So if you really wanted to be a great director and make movies for a living, then you would need to find a way to start.

Due to your lack of resources: small budget, minimal crew, basic equipment, there are naturally some things that you wouldn’t be able to do. However it doesn’t mean you can’t find a way of doing something similar. For example, let’s say your film was set in space. You probably don’t have the budget for any kind of CGI or special effects, so creating large space battles with spaceships flying through the stars is just not realistic. However that doesn’t mean you can’t have a space battle in your film. Your creative solution might be to film a space battle from the point of view of the passengers on the spacecraft, exploring what it’s like to be a inside spacecraft during a violent space battle.

Now to future producers and film studios that might hire you to make big Hollywood movies, this shows them that you’re able to think around a problem, around a budgetary constraint, and still create something exciting, emotional and dynamic to watch, that tells the story you were wanting to tell. This would get them thinking, what could this person do if we gave them $10 million or $20 million to make a film.

In this example, your lack of resources lead you to a more creative solution. If this was your first film and you had all the budget in the world, but didn’t know how to use it, the end result might be poor, and therefore a waste of money and resources, and a poor mark against your name. By testing the water with less to play with, it allows you to explore what you’re actually capable of. It’s why we love underdogs. We love a good story of the kid from the streets that overcomes all odds to get whatever it is they’re searching for, or the small rebel army that manages to outmanoeuvre and defeat some huge evil empire.

It’s very easy to blame a lack of resources for our own inactivity or lack of results, it’s why so many people don’t ever pursue their dreams or goals, or why they make them smaller and less exciting. And yet a lack of resources can be the very thing that will make us great, that will lead us to what we want and will ultimately help us arrive at a point where we do have all the resources, and actually know what to do with them.

Small businesses like to think that they can never compete with a giant in their industry, and yet because the large organisation has all of the resources, it sometimes makes them blind to certain possibilities, or slower to react, because they have to make a decision on what resources to deploy. The advantage the smaller company has is that they might only have one or two choices and therefore they have no choice but to find a creative way of deploying them in the most effective way. Creative thinking can outmanoeuvre sheer strength any day. Remember the 300 Spartans? They kept the Persian army at pay for days but being smart about how they fought.

Our agency Warpline makes a lot of videos, and because we’re all filmmakers, we all want the very latest cameras and filmmaking gadgets, but we actually don’t need them. Sure some things might make our lives easier, but it doesn’t mean to can’t capture something, it just means we have to find a way to use the equipment we do have to achieve a similar result. There is always another way to do something.

Sometimes adversity is the very thing we need to make ourselves better. It’s temping to want to skip to the end to where our businesses are worth millions of pounds, or where our films win Oscars, but it’s the challenges we face along the way, and the few resources we do have, that helps us learn the skills we needed to achieve that golden ending.

They say that if children are handed everything on a silver platter they won’t learn anything for themselves, and therefore will struggle with adapting to adult life. So ask yourself, if you had everything you wanted right now, would you actually know what to do with it? If I was suddenly handed a million pounds to spend on marketing, I’m not sure I would know how to spend it effectively. However I would know exactly how to spend five thousand.