Often, we blame the tools we have for the job we can't complete. I've heard well over a dozen (maybe a hundred) people tell me that they don't have business cards because their company doesn't pay for them at his or her level. Mind-blowing. You've given up on success because you can't spend $30 by yourself? I bought my own telephone company cards when I was a lowly employee at the bottom of the barrel. It cost me $30. It earned me thousands.
The tools aren't the hurdle
No one ever asked Hemingway what type of pencil he used to write A Farewell to Arms. When he was in Paris, he'd write on whatever he had around. He'd write on the backs of envelopes. He'd write on torn out pages from other books. He'd put ideas down however he could. Sure, a great typewriter makes it go faster. Sure, a fast pencil or a smooth pen helps. But it's never about the tools.
Or rather, you can start with nothing. Watching kids in Brazil play football with a ball made out of rags because it's what they have, and seeing that they can pick up team dynamics, maneuvers, and do lots before they ever put their feet on a regulation ball. I sat beside a professional symphony conductor on a plane once. Watching him play paper piano and watching him wave his pen as a baton was watching someone do really big things with what he had at hand.
Start with what you have
If you're out in the sticks and don't have broadband, start with dial-up. If you're working on a 1970s cash register and can't scan SKUs, that's what you have. The Chinese restaurant downstairs from my office has a calculator and a cash drawer. They're still making lots of money (some of it from me).
My first iPod was generation one. My first laptop was a work laptop. My first phone was an old Nextel. I used the iPod to download podcasts and get smarter. I used the laptop to make my own presentations and my own stories, on my own time. My phone still dialed the decision makers. Everything I did, I started on old tools that didn't really shine and glisten.
It's not about the mic
In your efforts to tell your story, don't focus on the microphone. Focus on the story you want to tell. You'll get there faster. You'll do more. You'll move the needle much better. Start somewhere, grow, and then use the new tools to grow even more. The moment a tool isn't growing your business, but instead is just prettier, you've got to rethink what you're doing.
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of Social Media 101, and president of New Marketing Labs. He blogs at chrisbrogan.com.