Five reasons you should embrace scarcity

Chris Lema

embrace-scarcityEvery week I talk with a WordPress developer who is thinking about quitting their day job and going full time—either as a freelancer or to create a new product.

Every week I walk them through the reasons I suggest they don’t quit their day jobs just yet. If you’re in a similar place, this may be of help to you too.

Scarcity brings focus

I’m going to talk a lot about scarcity. So let’s begin with a simple understanding of what it means. Scarcity is all about a restricted amount, a limited amount, a small amount of something. In this case, we’re talking about the kind of time you can spend on your new business—be it consulting or product development.

Because you have a full time job, your time for doing other stuff will be severely limited (maybe 10 hours a week, if you’re lucky). That’s a scarce resource.

But that scarcity brings focus. Because with such limited time, you won’t waste it on stupid stuff. You won’t waste it on articles of incorporation. You won’t waste it on mission statements or business cards.

Instead, you’ll focus it exactly on what you need to do to get started. That focus is a consequence of scarcity and it’s something you should embrace.

Scarcity saves money

With limited amounts of time, another benefit is that you end up limiting how much money you spend. You’ll find that you’ll focus your spending on only the absolute essentials you need to move things forward.

That means you won’t step into long term leases (for space or copy machines). It means you likely won’t spend money on lawyers yet—because honestly, you don’t know if this thing will take off yet.

And since you’re not making money, you’ll be hesitant to spend money—which is a good thing. It will lead you to ask friends for advice and favors—which is another way of helping you hone your message and make it compelling.

Scarcity invites partners

As I hinted before, scarcity limits what you spend on. So it leads you to ask for favors. The natural consequences will be both a broadening of your network but also a tightening of your partners who come alongside you to help you in your mission.

Those partners may even lead to co-founders—as things progress and excitement inspires a couple of friends to join you. And just in case you didn’t know, a team is better than doing any of this alone.

Scarcity lets you experiment freely

One of the realities of starting anything new is that what we think will work may not always match what actually works. To this end, you need time to test things. Time to tweak things.

You can do this if you’re not worried about the financial consequences (because you have a full time job). You’re less likely to do it if a failure means you have to start looking for work again.

In essence, you’re much more able to freely take risks that you normally wouldn’t be able to take.

A proven business model lets you quit confidently

Notice what’s been happening, as we’ve moved through these reasons. You’ve limited your expenses, invited help from your community, tested your market and pricing, and had solid focus while doing it all.

The result of all of this is a proven business model—one that takes into account the cost side of things, as well as the revenue side. One that has a better understanding of what works in your community, and one that is already energized by your own network.

When all that is said and done, you’ll be ready quit your job without looking back—because you’ll know your metrics, you’ll have your team, and you’ll know how to generate the most revenue you can from the market you’re in.

So there you go—the five reasons I think you should keep that day job, and wait a bit until you know for sure that it’s time to say goodbye for good.

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  1. Solid… I learned all this the hard way. Great advice!

  2. I totally agree with you, Chris.

    I really liked this post. I think the scarcity is ideal for starting a business in bootstapping mode, so you can go experimenting and correcting errors without incurring bankruptcy.

    Greetings from Spain!

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