The Importance of Resilience in Entrepreneurship

Being at a Startup Accelerator working with a vision of building people who build businesses, we see entrepreneurs churning out of the accelerator continuously. We see successes in different variants, not only entrepreneurs raising funds but also failing fast at times, figuring out what not to do and pivoting to continue to be in the game.

From my personal stint on the entrepreneurial path and now watching the entrepreneurs coming in and going out, I have come to understand it’s not always the external factors that matter but the internal strength of an entrepreneur. This leads me to point out a known entrepreneurial trait which I would term as the king of the traits for an entrepreneur to have – entrepreneurial resilience.


The term ‘resilience’ is used to characterise individuals who are able to overcome setbacks related to their life and career aspirations (De Vries & Shields, 2005).

When talking about a person, resilience is used in the context of recovering easily and quickly from setbacks (Zautra, Hall, & Murray, 2010).

Women Entrepreneurs – Stories Of Resilience

Barbara Corcoran(of Shark Tank fame) says the best entrepreneurs are the ones who can take a blow and come back stronger. Her story serves as a great example for exhibiting resilience when she broke off from her original business partner and boyfriend Ramone Simone – with 51% ownership of a New York real estate firm. She was told by Simone that she would never make it on her own. Using these words as fuel to fight her way through the ups and downs of the real estate market, she cruised forward to turn her company into a massive empire that she eventually sold for $66 million.

Patricia Narayan – FICCI Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2017

Earning from 50 paise a day to owning a chain of restaurants, she started by making pickles, jams and squashes at home to selling bajjis, cutlets, samosas, fresh juice, coffee and tea at Marina Beach.

Her hard times aggravated when she had to battle against helplessness, getting rid of a failed marriage with a drug addict and abusive husband, and taking care of two small kids. She not only managed to pursue her passion but also laid the foundation of her success by establishing a chain of restaurants.

Building entrepreneurial resilience

Is entrepreneurial resilience an inborn trait? Can we say people either have it or they don’t?

Answering it in the words by APA (American Psychological Association)

“Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”

So here we are. As an entrepreneur, traits which are linked with success and performance should be developed. Sharing a few abstracts of articles from the research experts on building entrepreneurial resilience:

Abstract from an article by Kelly School of Business, Indiana University

“Our new research shows that specific personal factors matter greatly for the pursuit of entrepreneurship, especially during periods of adversity. Based on survey data from more than 500 entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad to answer this question, we find that entrepreneurial self-efficacy — defined as a belief in one’s ability to be an entrepreneur — and resilience are particularly important. In order to build self-efficacy and resilience, entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs need to

(1) engage in business development training to build their belief in their entrepreneurial ability (i.e., entrepreneurial self-efficacy);

(2) seek out networking events, special lectures, and mentoring opportunities to learn by modelling others who have been resilient through challenging times; and

(3) be active in their entrepreneurial pursuits, practice business acumen, and seek feedback from those who can be objective, critical, and encouraging.”

Entrepreneurial resilience can be augmented by enhancing networking and forming a professional network of coaches and mentors, accepting that change is a part of life, and avoiding seeing crises as insurmountable (Davidson, 2000).

So if you find yourself somewhere on the road to resilience, keep going.

Passing on some strength from Sufi words by Rumi – the mystic, “If a little rub irritates you how will you polish your mirror.”


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