Are successful entrepreneurs naturally more resilient or can resilience be learned?


These are the two questions we attempted to address during our recent NEF Resilience workshop.

We all hear about the challenges that entrepreneurs face in their day-to-day business lives as they launch and grow new businesses. So, at the NEF, we have developed a one- day workshop on resilience, as part of our 10- month Learning & Development programme.

The aim of the workshop is to look at resilience from a different perspective: How do you define resilience?  What can enhance resilience energy?  Where can you, as entrepreneur, find your resilience strengths? How you can build a personal resilience plan?

Our cohort of aspiring young entrepreneurs started the day by sharing their resilience stories and what they thought was impacting on their resilience. Topics that were mentioned included: personal energy levels, external factors, the environment in which you work or live, other people feelings and actions. These are just some of the many factors that can have an influence on the way you react to things and therefore touch on your resilience.

One definition of resilience is: “you respond with flexibility and determination to life’s challenges and emerge from them stronger, wiser and more capable. Your self-belief remains intact whatever the outcome of your best efforts”.

We looked at the various energy levels that come into the equation: is it the physical energy? Is it the mental energy? Is it my spirit? Is it my emotional energy? Which one is the strongest? Which one do I need to work on?

The workshop went on to look at some of the myths of resilience: you either have it or you don’t? Resilience comes almost entirely from within the person. You always bounce back from adversity. Needless to say, that off course these myths can be challenged.

So how can you build your resilience? Some of the elements discussed were around the themes of:

–          Flexibility

–          Perseverance

–          Self-belief, self-acceptance, self-discipline

–          Keeping events in perspective

–          Personal risk-taking

We also discussed what could stop us from building our resilience? Could it be my beliefs, my behaviour, my actions, my thoughts?

The day continued with lots of exercises and the development of a personal plan to maintain resilience.

Last but not least, we invited two successful entrepreneurs to tell us their stories and how they both coped with the challenges of entrepreneurial life. Kevin McCoy, Co-founder & MD at Next Jump told us the story of how his business went from 4 staff to 150 and then back to 5 when hard times hit his business. The good news is that he’s back up to 120 people again! His most memorable advice he received was given to him as he started the business 17 years ago: “ the secret of business is to stay in business”. Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder of Nosh Detox highlighted how her personal circumstances tested her resilience to the full! With her determination and only £2000 she managed to start her business and turn it into a successful lifestyle and health business.

In conclusion it transpire that resilience is a mindset that can be learned, it is a way of looking at life and business challenges. The key lesson is to be in tune with oneself on how external things can impact on your own beliefs, behaviours and energy levels.

In our NEFers words, resilience is about: “thinking before reacting” “perseverance” “stop making excuses” “resilience can be learned” and “resilience is brilliance”!