To have a great idea, have a lot of them.Thomas Edison
The decision to start a small business represents a decision to take your seat on a roller coaster. And to survive the ride, you need to be build your endurance. To bounce back. To build resilience.
Chloe and I have, and continue to, experience it ourselves, and we see it with every small business owner that we work with. There are massive highs. And equally huge lows. There are days when you feel like you can take over the world. And there are days when you feel like everything is collapsing around you.
With the arrival of Coronavirus, this seems even more pertinent, and it’s in this context that I write today’s blog. In the current environment, we need to build resilience, and build it more than ever.
So how can we, as entrepreneurs, do this?
This post is designed to give you ideas, based on my own experiences, since the lockdown began. It’s designed to provoke thought and consideration, and to act as a catalyst for your own approach. Everyone is different, which is why, when it comes to building resilience, there is no quick fix.
I think this is an important one, and one that I’ve only come to understand myself, fairly recently. When you hit a rough patch, it’s important to acknowledge it. To accept it. To understand that it’s ok to feel the way you do. Using the roller coaster analogy, it’s about acknowledging that we’re on a particularly stomach-churning, or terrifying patch of track, and allowing ourselves the knowledge that somewhere ahead, things will improve.
In the context of Coronavirus, this means that we are all stuck in a situation that we had never imagined. One that makes us feel fine and pretty upbeat one day, but terrible the next. But that’s perfectly ok.
Don’t get me wrong, I always say thank you, and I’ve always been grateful for the people, things and opportunities that I have. But gratitude as a practice is new for me. If it’s new for you too, there’s a good introduction here from James Clear. Personally, I am spending this month noting down one thing that I’m grateful for each day.
But why? What does that mean in the context of building resilience? Well, I think if you can acknowledge the good things in your life, you can only look forward. And when you’re having a bad day, that means that you’re able to start moving towards better things. In the current environment, it means that I can focus on what I have, despite the restrictions we live with. Instead of focussing on what I don’t have and can’t do. And wondering when things might get back to ‘normal’.
This is an interesting one. Would you say you’re ‘good’ at relaxing? Personally, I don’t think I am. Especially at the moment. I’m having to work a lot in the evenings as with a six year old at home, I’m busy with ‘Twincl Tose School’ in the day. But one evening, I decided to have the evening off.
And I found it SO difficult! I realised that had forgotten how to switch off!
So I decided to go back to basics. There was no point trying to ‘force’ myself to relax by setting times to do it. Instead, I’ve been trying to build different activities into my day. For example, drinking a cup of tea on our garden bench in the sunshine. Or spending five minutes on the colouring page in my bullet journal. This – I’m finding – is much more effective. And it’s making sure that I stay positive too, as I look forward to these little relaxing snippets of time.
And what does this mean in terms of how we can build resilience? Well, nobody can wave a magic wand – or right now, predict when lockdown might end! But we can look forward to the positive things, and the things that make us feel better. We can start to focus on the way forward. And this mindset is so important.
We all know that exercise is good for the body and for the mind, and it can be a great tonic when you hit a rough patch. It helps you clear your head and focus on other things. You feel better and more positive, and your resilience levels grow. But what if exercise doesn’t come ‘naturally’ to you?
I’m definitely in that camp. Part of the reason is being self-conscious, and part is because I get bored! Since lockdown began though, I’ve realised that it’s more fun if you make it, well, more fun! I’ve been doing Cosmic Kids Yoga with my six year old, and also taking her on increasingly long rides now that she has (finally!) decided that she likes her bike. And in both cases, it hasn’t actually felt like exercise, and I definitely feel better for it!
When things get too much, you find yourself going round and round in circles, and it can be difficult to see your way out. To build resilience, you need to pause and reflect on your situation, however uncomfortable that might be, set goals and plan how to, and then execute them. That way you can move forwards with a sense of control, rather than ‘bouncing back’ in any given direction, not knowing where you might end up.
This is true whether you’re struggling with your mindset because of Coronavirus or another challenge in your life; or whether something has happened in your business. It’s important that, when you do start to move forward, you do so feeling that you are, in part at least, in some sort of control.
(If this kind of practice is out of your comfort zone, check out our Vision, Planning & Goals course.)
So there you have it – my views on how to build resilience as a small business owner, when you’re facing difficult times. But what about you? Do you have any tips to share?