Business strategy

Why resilience is indispensable for founders and startups

- March 21, 2023 3 MIN READ
resilience, tree on rock, survivor
Photo: AdobeStock
In today’s business landscape, where the rate of disruption is accelerating and the fickle nature of consumer preferences leaves little room for error, the success of a startup hinges on the founders’ ability to weather the storm.

Resilience, the capacity to absorb unexpected setbacks and adapt to new challenges, is a crucial quality for entrepreneurs who wish to navigate these tumultuous waters.

Today, we shall explore the concept of resilience, examine techniques for fostering it, and investigate the parallels and distinctions between personal and business resilience.

Resilience is often mistaken as an inherent trait rather than a learned skill. However, the reality is that resilience is an amalgamation of attitudes, perspectives, and behaviours that can be cultivated and honed.

Founders need to adopt an adaptive mindset, viewing setbacks as opportunities to learn and develop, rather than insurmountable obstacles. This mindset allows entrepreneurs to remain nimble and responsive to change, equipping them to confront the inevitable challenges that arise in a startup’s journey.

Several strategies can aid founders in building their resilience.

First and foremost, nurturing a support network is indispensable. This network, consisting of mentors, peers, and team members, can offer invaluable advice and encouragement, helping founders maintain perspective and morale in difficult times.

By engaging in regular dialogue with these allies, entrepreneurs can gain fresh insights, reassurance, and the motivation to persevere.

Secondly, practicing self-reflection and self-awareness is critical. Founders must be honest with themselves about their strengths and limitations, and actively seek out opportunities for growth. By embracing an iterative approach, they can refine their strategies and adapt more effectively to challenges.

Lastly, managing stress is paramount to maintaining resilience.

Founders must strike a balance between their personal and professional lives, ensuring they do not become overwhelmed by the demands of their startup. Incorporating regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and adequate sleep into their routine is essential, as is finding time for leisure activities and relaxation.


Startups need resilience too

In a similar vein, startups themselves must also be resilient.

Building a resilient business is akin to constructing a ship that can withstand stormy seas. It requires the capacity to absorb shocks, learn from them, and adapt accordingly. Resilient startups are characterised by flexibility, strong team dynamics, and robust planning.

To foster resilience at the organisational level, founders should promote a culture of openness and collaboration. Encouraging team members to voice their concerns and ideas can lead to innovative solutions and improvements, as well as increased buy-in from employees.

This sense of collective ownership and responsibility is instrumental in overcoming adversity.

Additionally, embracing diversification can bolster a startup’s resilience. By diversifying their product offerings, revenue streams and client base, entrepreneurs can mitigate the risks associated with over-reliance on a single market or sector.

This approach allows startups to weather fluctuations in demand, ensuring they remain agile and adaptable.

The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a prominent institution in the world of technology and startups, offers a salient example of an unexpected challenge faced by many startups. As a leading provider of financial services to early-stage companies, the bank’s demise left countless founders scrambling to secure alternative sources of funding and support.

In this instance, both personal and business resilience were put to the test. Founders who had cultivated strong support networks were better positioned to withstand the shock, drawing upon the collective wisdom of their allies to navigate the crisis.

Likewise, startups that had diversified their funding sources and fostered a culture of adaptability were better equipped to respond to the sudden upheaval.

Personal resilience v business

However, it is worth noting the distinctions between personal and business resilience. While personal resilience relates to an individual’s ability to maintain their psychological and emotional well-being in the face of adversity, business resilience pertains to the operational and financial stability of an organisation.

Personal resilience is essential for founders to maintain their composure and decision-making abilities, whereas business resilience is crucial for the survival and growth of the startup itself.

The unpredictable nature of the startup ecosystem demands that founders and their businesses develop resilience.

Founders who adopt an adaptive mindset and actively cultivate resilience through support networks, self-reflection, and stress management are better equipped to navigate the uncertain waters of entrepreneurship. Similarly, startups that foster a culture of openness, collaboration, and diversification are more likely to withstand the inevitable challenges that arise in their journey.

Silicon Valley Bank serves as a potent reminder of the importance of resilience in both personal and business contexts. By embracing the strategies discussed here, founders can increase their odds of success and ensure that their startups are prepared to weather the storms that lie ahead.

As the business landscape continues to evolve and present new challenges, resilience will remain an indispensable quality for those who dare to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.

  • Benjamin Chong is a partner at venture capital firm Right Click Capital, investors in bold and visionary tech founders.