Entrepreneurship 101: How to build inner resilience

Entrepreneurship 101 is a series on the ‘human’ aspects of entrepreneurship. Through this series, YourStory will share ideas, suggestions, references, and examples to help you reflect and tread the entrepreneurial path smoothly.
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When it comes to entrepreneurship, everybody talks about funding, valuations, revenue, numbers, and the potential for IPOs and/or acquisitions. It often seems to be all about numbers — and what the world sometimes forgets is behind every statistic is an entrepreneur, who is a human. 

Besides the great responsibility of running a business, the entrepreneurial path involves endless people and conflict management, sleepless nights, stressful weekends, and the list goes on.

Entrepreneurship 101 is a series that aims to focus on these very aspects of being an entrepreneur or a startup founder. Through this series, YourStory will share ideas, suggestions, references, and examples that will help you tread the entrepreneurial path smoothly. 

For the first article of the series, we focus on building inner resilience

What exactly is inner resilience? 

American author Robert Jordan wrote in his novel The Fires of Heaven

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” 

This metaphor can be perfectly used to describe inner resilience. Inner resilience is nothing but one's inner strength. That is, it is the state of consciousness and understanding of external factors, and not allowing them to affect one’s mental and physical being. It can be well described as the ability to cope in the face of challenges or obstacles or bounce back after facing difficulties or challenges.

In entrepreneurship, the way one bounces back from the challenges and crises of today defines the course of their business tomorrow. While the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc across industries, entrepreneurs across the ecosystem were not spared. For the first couple of months, businesses came to an absolute standstill. Depleting financial backup and zero businesses meant salary cuts, laying off employees, and in some extreme cases, shutting shop altogether. 

The pandemic has been a true test of resilience for entrepreneurs. While some gave up the fight, many others lived up to their test, some pivoted their businesses, and ultimately persisted. 

The hotel and hospitality industry was one of the worst-hit sectors. While many had to shut their doors owing to the lack of revenue-generating streams and high cash burn, budget hotel brand FabHotels launched the Work-from-FabHotels campaign. Adarsh Manpuria and Vaibhav Aggarwal’s new line of services to meet the crisis-led demand kept FabHotels’ business afloat despite the challenges. They truly lived up to the idea of never letting a crisis go to waste. 

Vaibhav Aggarwal, Founder and CEO at FabHotels

In an article for YourStory, author Vinay Kanchan truly wrote, “Whilst the pandemic was masking the entire world, it was also helping unmask the true potential of some startups.”

Similarly, bike taxi startup Rapido Bike Taxi had to initially suspend operations owing to the pandemic-induced nationwide lockdown. However, the founders’ resilience to keep the business afloat led the company to pivot its model and enter the essential delivery segment. Rapido not only collaborated with the likes of Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Retail, and Bigbasket to help them keep up with the rising demands, the pivot allowed the startup to sustain its business. 

During the last two years of the pandemic, YourStory has reported stories of continuous resilience and persistence in its column Pivot and Persist

Although the pandemic has been one of the most challenging times ever since the Great Recession of 2008, the entrepreneurial journey in itself is full of bumps and roadblocks. And despite the uneven road, entrepreneurs have to continue to remain resilient and sport quiet confidence in the face of extreme adversity. 

In Martin Luther’s words, an entrepreneur must be “...Willing to plant an apple tree today even if others try to tell you the world will end tomorrow.” 

How to build inner resilience? 

Building one’s inner resilience enables them to stay true to their purpose. The following tips can help startup founders build inner strength: 

Seek help

Being an entrepreneur often comes with the urge of wanting to do it all by yourself. Give up on that idea. Just because it is your business does not mean you have to do everything on your own.

Build a team of experts and hire people who are great at their specific roles. In entrepreneurship, collaboration is the key to success. Having people who are confident in their specific roles will not just ensure avoiding overwhelming situations and seeking help from a third party, but also allow you to remain positive in the face of distress. 

Build your ‘A-team’

The core team forms the heart of your startup. Therefore, while building this core team, you must ensure that it consists of people you trust wholeheartedly, people who you can fall back on when the going gets tough.

After all, it is only “when you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.

Ideally, the core team should consist of people who have seen you shape your business – right from the ideation stage to where you stand today. This gives a personal touch to the relationship you build, and the emotions they develop towards their work and the company. 

The core team should be able to be your bitter-most critic, and at the same time, your loudest cheerleader, as the situation may call for. 

Communication is the key 

An entrepreneur must regularly communicate with their team to ensure their vision and mission is aligned with that of the team. Setting up meetings at regular intervals to address grievances within the team is just as essential as meeting the numbers. 

Irrespective of how busy one might get, being accessible to one’s employees promotes transparency and trust within teams. In fact, often having a grievance redressal mechanism or team comes in handy when it comes to internal people management. 

Additionally, while a founder is just another human being with feelings and emotions, entrepreneurs must practice the art of not holding grudges, being unbiased, and not let negative thoughts accumulate. Being a good leader involves being empathetic and understanding towards your team. The mission should be to build a team that not only trusts and supports you, but is also compassionate towards you. 

Inspiration from competition 

Early-stage entrepreneurs may often get bogged down by competitors and their success stories. Try to move past that. Instead, seek motivation and inspiration from other entrepreneurs’ success stories. 

The startup ecosystem works like a community. One must make way for collaborations and partnerships that uplift the community as a whole, instead of just focusing on one’s personal motives and growth. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Mental and physical wellbeing 

A healthy body cannot survive without a healthy mind, and vice-versa. Achieving inner strength can only be possible when your body and mind is strong enough. Entrepreneurship involves wearing multiple hats at the same time, and the journey can sometimes get extremely stressful. 

Some of the basic steps towards ‘self-care’ involve getting a good night’s sleep, clean eating, staying hydrated, indulging in a daily activity or a hobby that brings joy to you, and practising some form of physical activity. 

In order to keep away from stress, entrepreneurs should indulge in either yoga, meditation, or activities that promote mindfulness – painting or journaling. These can also help you discover yourself, and the ultimate goal or mission that you want to work towards.

Some of the science-backed methods that can help you improve your mental wellbeing, and ultimately build resilience, include: 

  • Practise expressive writing, which involves writing for 20 minutes at a stretch about things that bother us, or just about any thought or feeling around that particular issue. Expressive writing essentially helps one to confront their ideas, structure their thoughts and provide a new perspective. 
  • Do things that you are fearful of. If public speaking shakes your knees, start with something small – being more active during internal meetings and socialising more at events. 
  • Be as kind and warm towards yourselves as you are to others. Self-compassion can be challenging but is extremely crucial towards attaining self-resilience. 
  • Meditation and mindful breathing have calming effects and allow one to be present in the situation and help to deal with negative emotions and thoughts. 

Following these are just the first step towards building the inner strength to deal with anything that life and the entrepreneurial journey throws at you. Consistently practising inner resilience is what will help you win the race. 

Every time the going gets tough, and you find yourself questioning “What if I fall?”, do not forget to remind yourself “What if you fly?
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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