Studio of Andrew Brynjulson


I've been designing for brands for years. And I have some thoughts.

The MacGyver Mentality


When you can't seem to shake the instinct to do things on the cheap.

Macgyver with a missile

I've been in my fair share of meetings with a particular type of client lately. 

You might know this person. A thrifty bootstrapper that runs a growing, successful business, but behaves like it's still a fledgling start up. While the business may have grown and matured, the startup mentality never wavered.

It's like a guy who sells millions of dollars in lemons at the supermarket every year but still thinks he's running his childhood lemonade stand (which incidentally sounds like a parable from some entrepreneurship bible).

We'll call them, Macgyver.


You can imagine what it was like for that business owner in the beginning. Business, no doubt, was like a never-ending series of make-or-break decisions, doing all they can to manage risk with limited resources under loads of pressure. Unsurprisingly, when faced with problem, they tend to use what I like to call the MacGyver Method:

Improvising a cheap, satisfactory solution out of scotch tape, a rubber band and a paper clip.

It works, but eventually the business owner is left with a patchwork of band-aids and popsicle sticks.


Now don't get me wrong, that entrepreneurial spirit is in no way a bad thing. In fact, it is fundamental and should be admired. Hustling. Doing a lot with a little. Surviving despite the odds. Many a Silicon Valley think-piece has been written to herald the benefits of running a business like a start up. After all, with few resources and mounting challenges, what choice does that business owner have?

What I'm perplexed by is a decision maker Someone who actually has the resources to solve a problem, but is reluctant to use them. Things like hiring more help to ease workloads, investing in a new machine that would maximize production or what's most familiar to me is talking themselves out of upgrading their website experience from forgotten online brochure to a high-performing revenue tool. Deep down, this business owner knows these things would help business, but is sabotaged by that thrifty instinct that prefers band-aids and popsicle sticks.


What's the problem? Are successful business owners extremely conservative by nature? Scarred from years when money was tight? Is it midwestern modesty convincing them they can't have nice things? Or maybe it just never occurs to them to think bigger.

I'd wager it's all of the above.

So how do we give clients permission to dream a little?

A dream doesn't cost anything. But it might lead to something.


~Andrew Brynjulson is a Sioux Falls-based freelance designer and art director specializing in logo, web and brand design. He often writes about art, design, marketing and business. Share your thoughts, @BrenniFresh.