Striving to achieve any business goal you encounter walls.  

Often, these are financial in nature: you don’t have enough money to hire a marketer, buy more inventory, or develop a product.  

Most entrepreneurs stop at these problems, believing that you can only address them once you have either earned more cash or taken on funding.

These are often false limits though and you can surmount them if you apply your entrepreneurial skill in creating value.

Doing so, enables you to “punch above your weight class” and perform at a higher level than similar businesses of your size.

“Hard” Constraints

Recently, I brought two unpaid marketing interns onto our team.  As part of pitching them on their role, I created a short video explaining why we were running the internships and what was in it for them.

I explained that we weren’t looking to hire unpaid interns because we were cheap.  Rather, we were attempting to transcend our constraints.

Every business, from the part-time Etsy crafter to the corporate Amazon behemoth has constraints.  At some level of expenditure, you’re no longer making money.  

For the Etsy crafter it may be materials costing $30 and their product selling for $20.  For Amazon, it may make $170 billion, but if it’s spending $180 billion, it’s no longer viable.

Money is the primary measure and means of any business.  It can also be the primary restraint.  

For example:

When we make $x we’ll hire a marketing manager.  When we make $y we’ll buy a center booth at that big tradeshow.

The thinking that we slip into is that we need to make more money to address our restraints.  “Once we have $x we’ll do y.”

However, the core skill of entrepreneurship is not making money.  

The core skill of entrepreneurship is creating value.  

And because money is just an abstraction of value, there are often alternatives to create value, without using money, and transcending our financial constraints.

Interns as a Concrete Example

Take the internship we’re running as an example.  I’ve maxed out what I’m willing to spend on labor.   But I’m ambitious with my efforts and have a lot I want to see completed.

Beyond money as a resource, I have: 

  • My experience and insights
  • Lessons from past training 
  • A platform that needs marketing
  • My industry relationships
  • A position as an established business
  • Access to tools and resources
  • A technical team

Because our non-monetary resources match up with intern needs, we can create value beyond what we could fund with dollars.  

Both parties benefit in several different ways.  And the outcomes could very well lead to the relationships transforming into ones that are transacted in cash.

Don’t Hire an Intern

The point isn’t to hire an intern.

The copywriter JJ Abraham wrote a book many years ago with the brilliant title, “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got.”

And that title gets to the heart of the matter.  

The value you can create as an entrepreneur is not limited by your operating capital.   It’s limited by your skill, will, and creativity.  

If you refuse to accept your constraints and instead apply your entrepreneurial skill to surmounting them, you will operate at a higher impact than like sized competitors.  

This is how you punch above your weight as a business.