Resilience and the Entrepreneur

Jan 16th, 2013 by Acton

You’ve poured your time, your heart and your life into your business. Perhaps you even completed a one-year MBA program to earn a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship before you set out on your entrepreneurial path. No matter how prepared you are, there will be setbacks. How you respond to them will shape your resilience as an entrepreneur. Resilience involves making your company strong enough to withstand upheaval and overcome challenges. Resilience is also the ability to keep your confidence level high in the face of adversity.

Don’t Dwell on the Past

In a recent article for, executive coach Beverly Jones describes the essence of resilience. She writes, “Resilience means anticipating risks and feeling comfortable with change. Resilience involves limiting damage during turbulent times, absorbing hard knocks, regrouping and bouncing back when the worst happens.” Another key component of resilience: continuously looking to the future.

Resilient entrepreneurs are ever-curious and ever-learning. As Jones notes, they pay attention to trends and use them as opportunities. They “evolve with the times.” And that can’t happen if you’re looking back.

Turn a Failure Into a Learning Experience

As the top MBA programs will emphasize, dwelling on the past is never the answer, but learning from the past is undeniably beneficial. In her article for, Lambeth Hochwald stresses the importance of using a failure to your advantage. She cites Jill Konrath, author of Snap Selling, who gives the example of an individual who has the misfortune of making 100 unsuccessful sales calls. Instead of fixating on the pain of disappointment, perhaps taking a look at your approach and changing it if need be is the true answer. After all, as Konrath says, “Maybe you called the wrong people or called them at the wrong time.”

Be Proactive

When a setback occurs and there’s nothing to do but move on, staying busy and focused can get you through the worst of the disappointment. In a recent blog post for The Accelerator Sessions, Catrin MacDonnell emphasizes the importance of resilience, as well as the forward-moving effect of seeing opportunities in every situation. She writes, “an inquisitive, proactive employee who shows resilience is so much more likely to drive the business forward and be prepared take responsibility for their actions than another who may be fearful of making mistakes.” Blogger and entrepreneur Penelope Trunk echoes this statement, noting that establishing goals can assist a person in moving past a crisis. After all, focusing on achieving goals or throwing oneself into a new project can be a happy distraction with undeniable benefits.

Trunk also contributes a valuable idea that’s essential for reframing one’s outlook when adversity strikes: “See yourself as a survivor not a victim.” And wear that survivorship as a badge of honor. You’ve earned it, and your experience will only add to your resilience, preparing you for the next challenge that comes along.

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