I could get my user adoption rate if only I had some of the Facebook advertising credits.

My product would be able to raise more traction with advertisers if only I had engineering bandwidth to have a data layer.

I could grow the services business five-fold in the next 12 months if only I didn’t have to worry about working capital constraints.

We’d be able to show more valuable insights to clients if only we could afford to have a visualization designer on board.

If only…

How many times have you caught yourself saying this or heard someone in your firm sighing wistfully about something they don’t have?

Almost always, the solution to the problem is not more money or more people or more time. It’s just another manifestation of our ‘lizard brain‘ when we create a dependency on something that is hard to obtain. That way, we can sleep better at night; we can live with the story of why we are resisting action; we have an explanation when we are asked why things went south.

The bad news is, if you don’t understand your customer well enough to know why they aren’t adopting your product, advertising won’t solve it; if you have never gone out to advertisers to understand what they want from your product, engineering bandwidth will only get you features and nothing else; if you don’t dig to the root of the working capital problem (poor customer base? late payments?) now, you’ll just have a bigger sized problem with more employees; if you don’t know what insights your end users want, a visually appealing layout for the data is just going to be junk.

The good news, by implication, is that it means the (means to) solutions are already in our control. Now, get your hands dirty, and take up the tens of truly strategic things that are just waiting for you to act and make an impact.