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Why Resilience Matters for Business Owners and How to Build It

4-minute read

Man with glasses and blue button down shirt looking at his laptop.
Allison Grinberg-Funes

Allison Grinberg-Funes

1 July 2020

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When it comes to business owners looking back on building their businesses during hard times, the stories are typically ones of struggle. Overcoming struggles is, in large part, what builds resilience, and the ability to persevere and continue walking step-by-step is the goal.

No person or small business owner is inherently resilient. Susan Peacock, a Chartered psychologist and mindfulness trainer cites Dr. Carole Pemberton's definition of resilience as the ability to remain flexible in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Both resilience in an individual and business resiliency are traits that are built over time, despite (or maybe because of) hardships.

In this article, we'll discuss different elements of resilience, as well as how you may be able to build business resiliency for yourself as a business owner and an individual.

Looking at the Impact of Stress on Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you may have come to suspect there are always going to be a lot of "unknowns" in the future. In times of economic hardship, small business owners can be hit particularly hard, likely because they may not always have the client base or funds to sustain themselves through hard times.

The unknowns can cause stress. As a business owner myself, I know this all too well, and it's been a detriment to my business in the past.

Yet at times, stress can be a motivator. The popular psychological model by Yerkes and Dodson demonstrates how a healthy amount of stress can potentially lead to peak performance.

Not all stress is necessarily bad, but too much stress can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, and even burnout.

I used to get so stressed and worked up about possible roadblocks (usually just when I'd gotten on a roll with work) that I couldn’t adequately finish the work I already had on my plate — which, of course, raised my stress levels even higher.

What Actions Can We Take to Adapt?

The more we stress, the more that stress carries over — occupying our minds and wreaking havoc on our bodies. Eventually, this all can end up affecting our customers, either directly or indirectly.

Perhaps being continually stressed out in a difficult situation leads you to forget important details of a project, and as a result, it takes you twice as long as it usually would to complete a job. Your customer isn't pleased, and you worry that they may not hire you the next time around.

Or perhaps you become so stressed that you develop an ulcer that requires you to take time off from work, so you have to reschedule planned work. You've inconvenienced your customer and unfortunately, you have to help them find someone else to do the job you were so excited to do.

Channeling the energy from our stress into actions we can take helps us adapt to situations.

Here are some actions you can take:

1. Create a Schedule

As basic as it seems, creating a schedule can help us attain some semblance of routine and normalcy.

Maybe you need to keep up with social media posts so you're in touch with the needs of your community and prospective clients. Is there a way you can give yourself an hour or two to do that each day?

For example, maybe you check the accounts of communities you follow for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon — that way you won't waste time mindlessly scrolling.

What else could you add to your schedule? Think of things like bookkeeping, organizing your office materials (even if that means virtual files and emails), and even meal times.

2. Do What You Can to Create Stability

Running a business can create a lot of anxiety from unknown variables. It can be easier to handle everyday stresses of running our businesses when we've built a solid foundation — especially one that includes sound financial stability. What else can you do to secure your business?

One suggestion is to invest in business insurance, which can help protect your business in case anything happens. In case of property damage, bodily injury, or any third-party accident, business insurance can potentially help protect your personal finances if a claim is made or if you need legal representation for your business.

Finding and settling on a policy that helps you feel protected can help you build a foundation of stability. That way, you can channel your energy into other areas of your business, like acquiring new customers or working on a new advertising campaign strategy.

3. Reflect on Past Experiences

A part of being resilient is the ability to bounce back from a tough situation after-the-fact. So it's helpful to think back on times when you faced a particular challenge and how you handled the situation.

There are many business owners in our community who have overcome hard times. Reflecting on overcoming challenges and difficult times can help you remember all that you've overcome in the past. It also helps to ground you in your ability to persevere when something comes your way in the future, or what you may be struggling with currently — this is resilience!

4. Create a Habit of Mindfulness

In our work lives, creating habits of mindfulness can be good for business. According to the Harvard Business Review and organizational psychologists, being mindful can help you perform your job more efficiently, be more productive, and decrease your stress levels.

Here are a few things that can build mindfulness:

  • Try building a meditation practice (even if it's for a couple minutes each day)
  • Record a few things that you're grateful for each day
  • Record on your calendar how you feel at the start and end of each workday (after time, you may see patterns)

Using new behaviors like these and building them into habits helps to build your business's resiliency.

Business Ownership Takes Adaptability

Building a business takes time, and building resilience is no different. It's a skill you can grow over time.

Your business is bound to face challenges in the future. After all, there are so many factors that could impact your growth, from global health crises and natural disasters, to economic downturns and regional tax adjustments.

In the end, being able to adapt to those changes can help your business become more flexible and able to withstand whatever comes your way. Building your business's resiliency can help you do exactly that!

Allison Grinberg-Funes

Written by

Allison Grinberg-Funes

I’ve told stories since I learned to talk and written since I could hold a pen. As a small business owner myself - I'm a freelance writer and yoga teacher - I love contributing to the entrepreneurship community in different ways (including writing for Simply Business!). When I’m not drafting articles for SB, I can be found on my yoga mat, perusing an indie bookstore, and writing (with my cat nearby of course).

Allison writes on a number of topics such as small business leadership, business structures, and employee training.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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