I’ve never been a Navy Seal. I can’t run 30 kilometers with a backpack, in the middle of the night, in enemy territory. I have, however, been an entrepreneur, and there is a similarity that I believe is common to success in both roles: resilience.
Typically, when people consider resilience, they think of people who can endure untold physical hardship. In my experience, a good entrepreneur needs similar levels of resilience, albeit mental rather than physical. Why is this? Well, from what I’ve experienced, entrepreneurs need resilience for the following:
1. Getting started
Is there a more difficult life than that of an entrepreneur who’s getting established? S/he has no clients, an un-tested product or service, little, or no, cash reserves, no client testimonials and no experience of what’s happening or what’s to come!
Many people leave a comfortable, safe, well paid job to start up a new business. They may have had a boss who could carry the can if there were real problems. The company may have had deep pockets to pay salaries, even in months when sales were poor.
This is hardly ideal preparation for being an entrepreneur! You certainly need resilience.
2. Feeling failure
Unless you have incredibly good judgment, good timing or good luck, you will most likely experience more failure than success in the beginning. You’ll need to take rejection after rejection and pick yourself up.
Your prospects will tell you that they need more experience or a proven track record. Your bank manager will tell you that s/he needs a history of profits. Your suppliers will tell you that they can’t risk extended credit lines.
Your confidence will take a daily battering. Only the most resilient will be able to retain that belief in themselves and their business to survive to the next stage.
3. Making the transition
If you’ve survived those perilous first few years (and remember that most businesses fail in the first 5 years), life, unfortunately, doesn’t get any easier.
You may now have a viable business but the challenges have only really just begun. Competitors fight you for every dollar; your best people may be approached by headhunters on a daily basis; and there are not enough hours to develop your products, recruit more people, or develop relationships with important clients.
Somehow, you have to find the strength and resilience to get through these days.
4. Enjoying success
If you finally manage to establish a business that delivers good profits, has great products and happy clients, you should congratulate yourself. But the struggle continues, and your levels of resilience need to remain high if you are to continue your success.
Not many business books focus on the need for resilience for the entrepreneur. But, is there anything much more important? What’s more, it’s only through your resilience that you’ll have any chance of being successful. In the words of Jamais Cascio,“resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive”. And what more could you want for your business, than for it to thrive?