You can do anything but not everything.
Sometimes we can increase our creativity by putting restrictions on ourselves, this has been defined as Creative limitation.
The right restrictions can lead to great work. A good example is Dr. Seuss’ book, Green Egg and Ham. Dr. Seuss’ editor bet him that he could not write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss proved him wrong and made one of the bestselling children’s book of all time.
How entrepreneurs can use restrictions to their advantage
We recently interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk (here is the beginning of the interview), a man who describes himself as being obsessed with restrictions, so we asked him what his thoughts are on restrictions and how entrepreneurs can use them to their advantage.
This is what Gary had to say:
That’s a really good question. That alludes to what I like about six minute brainstorms, that if you give somebody an hour to brainstorm or if you give them six minutes, that I feel like oftentimes you end up with the same results. The reason I believe that is because people, by far majority, people, not that it’s procrastinators, but they’re going to fill up the time and effort into the time that their brain understands they have. So I’m always worried about somebody doing eight hours of work in eight hours when they were capable of doing 12 hours of work in eight hours.
You look at something like Twitter. If Twitter didn’t have the restriction of 140 characters, Twitter would be blogging. It would be like everything else. I’m a very big fan of restrictions and think they matter. You know, that thing about Snapchat, right? You’re forced to tell the story in ten seconds, because it disappears. Whereas if you take a picture that you know will last forever, you treat it differently. I think it forms a different level of creativity. I think the world has always been about openness in a lot of ways, and now I’m very focused on the restriction nature of what the digital world can create.
What will you do?
There are several more examples of how restriction can be helpful. Startup Weekend is one of them, an event where participants have only 54 hours to launch a startup and many great companies have begun at those events. Another example is how AppSumo used limitation to create better results with their advertising. In 2013 they limited their advertising budget to $360,000 instead of $1,500,000 the year before. They got much better results because they were more creative and careful to spend their marketing dollars on campaigns that would yield a good ROI (return on investment).
What restrictions could you put on yourself to create something new? Time restrictions? Length restrictions? Feature restrictions? Budget restrictions?
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Here is the audio recording of the interview:
Here is another article based on our interview with Gary Vaynerchuk: