In advice columns, business books, and public speeches, entrepreneurs note a variety of secrets to success. Some say drive is the most important thing, others say it’s in the business plan. I disagree. There’s one trait that all successful entrepreneurs share: resilience.
Resilience isn’t usually cited as the secret to success, but when you ask seasoned entrepreneurs how they made it so far, they’ll tell you that they just kept going. If they’re honest, they’ll discuss the difficult days -- the times they wanted to quit, the months they wished for the stability of a job, and the weeks they welcomed the weekend as a respite from the chaos of running a business -- and how, despite everything, they moved forward.
Resilience is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. As an entrepreneur, that means possessing a certain flexibility and willingness to adapt to circumstances as they arise. It’s not just about snapping back from a negative event; it’s about being pliable enough to move with the flow of your business. Here are five tips to developing an entrepreneurial resilience:
- Refine your decision-making abilities. The easiest way to prevent unnecessary drama and stress is to become better at making important decisions. Leadership requires decisiveness. The clearer you are about the criteria necessary for you to make good decisions, the easier it will be to move quickly and confidently. Contemplate past decisions you’ve made. What did you learn from the outcome of those decisions? If you had to make the decisions again, what would you do differently? What can you take from those lessons into future experiences?
- Use the 10-10-10 test. The author of 10-10-10 and wife of former chairman and CEO of General Electric, Suzie Welch, urges leaders to use the 10-10-10 test. Ask yourself what the consequences of your decision will be in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. Contemplating the long-term implications of a decision has a way of putting it into perspective and helping you explore strategic considerations that may be difficult to see now.
- Fill your information gaps. When we’re struggling to bounce back from a bad deal or a setback, it’s often because we feel vulnerable. In the face of something going wrong, we wonder how we could have allowed ourselves to end up in such a difficult situation. The answer is usually growth. Unfortunately, we tend to learn the most from failures and unpleasant circumstances. The more you fill your knowledge gaps with the right information from books, articles, mentors, and resources, the easier it will be to draw on that information when you need to make an important decision or recover from a setback.
- Be grateful. No matter how bad things are, there’s something about your business that’s right. When building your resilience muscle, it’s extremely important to keep the good things at the top of your mind. Maybe it requires making a list or calling a colleague to talk everything through. Find a way to be grateful for the good things in your business. The answer to what’s wrong in your business may be hidden in what’s right.
- Trust yourself. Every decision, regardless of outcome, works to fine-tune your business instincts. Entrepreneurship is about taking calculated risks and trusting that you can handle the worst possible outcome while hoping for the best possible outcome. Remember that you made it this far by failing, learning, growing, and winning. Believe that you can solve the problems as they arrive. Worrying is always less than productive than taking constructive action.
No matter how long the road and how high the climb, remember that every day presents a new opportunity to begin again and keep building.
Lisa Nicole Bell is equal parts artist, businesswoman and motivator. Lisa is the Founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group where she and her team meld art, social change, and commerce to create economically viable media properties.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.