Resource allocation for entrepreneurs

One of my (many) failings is that I take on too much work: I overcommit with clients, I take on new clients, I take on new projects or income streams, I agree to joint ventures… and then I try to figure out how to do it all. It doesn’t always work out in my favor.

So I’m learning to do a better job at not overcommitting. One of the ways I’m doing that is by thinking about resource allocation — figuring out how much of my resources are needed to bring something to a preferred level of completion.

Easier said than done.

But recently I was reading a book called Make Your Own Luck: 12 Practical Steps to Taking Smarter Risks in Business by Shapiro and Stevenson (Amazon link) and it helped me to bring some clarity to the idea of resource allocation.

The book itself is focused on predictive intelligence (the ability to look at the facts today and guess what you should do next to achieve a more successful business). They touch on productivity and resource allocation and one of their best insights is to reference this concept of “100 marbles”.

Think of 100 marbles, which represent your resources — time, money, effort, talent, passion. And in order for you to achieve the success you’re hoping for, you have to “spend” some marbles to make it happen. So which tasks require the most marbles? Which ones require less? And what do you do when you run out of marbles but you still have things that need to be done?

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to assign too many of these resources to the wrong things, and to have more tasks than available marbles.

That’s all that was really covered in the book about this concept (since the idea is only peripheral to the book) but I’d like to think about this a little more.

I’d like to spend some time thinking about what elements make up the marbles. And, what are the things I need to do to achieve success? And which tasks need the most marbles?

This is a thought-provoking idea that needs more time to think about.

I’d like to hear from you: How do you allocate the resources you have on your projects? How do you decide what gets the most resources and what gets the least? What do you do with those leftover tasks when you run out of marbles? Put your thoughts in the comments below.

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