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Benefits of Being Broke

April 30, 2024

When Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, identifies a new tech company as a potential investment opportunity, he first wants to see their working space.

If it’s too nice, he won’t invest. Why? Because it signals to him that their focus is on the wrong things. In a company’s early days, investing in a cush office is the wrong place to put what limited resources they have. 

New companies are broke, and they need to experience a season of scrappiness to grow in ways that will prepare them for bigger obstacles down the road.

In ADDO’s early days, everything was scrappy.

We were borrowing office space, working long hours, and doing every job that needed to be done ourselves. We didn’t have any money, so we had to work with what little we had to get the company off the ground. 

Would I have liked to have more money at our disposal? Absolutely. But there were positive aspects of being in this season. There were benefits to being broke.

Ross Perot, known for being a famous billionaire who ran for president, said something simple and profound about his wealth: “The more money I have, the stupider I get.”

In other words, the more resources you have, the less resourceful you will be.

I want this to be an encouragement to  those of you who find yourself in a position where you’re forced to be scrappy. And if you find yourself in an organization with abundance, to create an environment where you work to simulate scarcity in order to make better decisions. In other words, find a way to reap the benefits of being broke!

Limited resources force you to:

1. Minimize Waste
If former Chick-fil-A president Jimmy Collins noticed a member of his team throwing away a paperclip, he would reprimand them. It wasn’t so much about the paperclip, as it was about the mindset. He wanted his team to understand that you don’t treat things you could use again as disposable. Scrappy people don’t waste things.

2. Maximize Resources
The small amount of money, the little team, that little bit of time you have to take a project to the next level—scrappy people stretch their assets to their fullest potential. When you work to make sure you are squeezing all of the juice out of your resources, you are able to better appreciate what you have been given.

3. Be a Good Steward
Have you ever heard the Parable of the Talents? It’s a passage of Scripture where Jesus tells his followers about what it means to be a good steward. In it, he tells the story of a man who goes on a journey and entrusts his talents (which is another word for money) to his servants. To one he gives five, another he gives two, and to the last he gives one. What’s interesting in this story is that the servants he entrusts the most to are actually the scrappiest. They work hard, invest, and bring their master a return on his investment. But the one he gives one talent to in the beginning only gives him back the single talent. It’s an encouragement that those who have been given many resources have the ability and calling to be scrappy too!

Scrappy people are good stewards of their resources.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the money, people, and support you wish you had, choose to see this season as an opportunity and not just an obstacle.  Being broke may make you better, wiser, and more strategic than you think. Being broke is a gift when it forces you to grow in resourcefulness.

As you find success, and the success yields more resources, work hard to keep the mindset of stewardship that helped you get there!


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