Rebuilding Entrepreneurial Resilience During the Pandemic

5 Ways to Nurture Your Entrepreneurial Mindset

Resilience: defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

If I had to think of a word to describe the spirit of the hundreds of entrepreneurs I’ve met through the years, it would have to be their spirit of resilience. How else would you describe a population who willingly walks away from stability to fulfil their dreams? A population ready to look challenges in the eye time and time again until they succeed.

But what happens when that spirit of resilience is all of a sudden facing a global pandemic?

COVID-19 forced small businesses and entrepreneurs to push past their comfort zones to become agile problem solvers and more flexible in their work. 

The Impact of the Pandemic on Entrepreneurs

Consider the following from a 2021 Global Study from the King’s Business School:

  • Two-fifths of entrepreneurs report levels of uncertainty and unpredictability for their businesses.
  • 57.7% of entrepreneurs worry about their own and their family’s health 
  • 61% of entrepreneurs saw their business threatened by the pandemic

That’s why I was excited to speak with Dr Sherry Walling, a clinical psychologist, speaker, podcaster and the author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Shit Together

There were a lot of questions to ask… What are the warning signs to look out for when it comes to the entrepreneur’s mental well-being? And where do we find support, especially as more of us are working remotely and on our own?

The pandemic has touched everything around us, including our businesses. We can assume that our entrepreneurial mindset has also been impacted. 

Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. But Dr Walling believes mindset is more than that. 

“We're talking about our emotional state. I think we're also talking to some extent about the relationship between our physical body and our mind. So our level of fatigue, our level of distraction, maybe our level of fogginess, as I mentioned earlier; if we haven't slept well and we're just like lethargic and low energy, all of that's going to shape our mindset.”

As entrepreneurs, so much of what we do is all about the capacity of our brain. Our ability to think and create something is our competitive edge. It’s what makes us entrepreneurs.

And as entrepreneurs, our mindset is our most valuable asset.

Experiencing Burnout During the Pandemic

The pandemic has put many entrepreneurs in what often feels like a precarious condition. Many lost their businesses, while others were constantly on the verge of shutting down. As a result, many business owners thought they had no choice but to push themselves to the limit. The result is burnout induced by the pandemic. 

Maybe you’re thinking, “that’s not me. I’ve done pretty well throughout the pandemic.” If that’s true, that’s great! I’m so happy for you. 

But for many of us, burnout caused by the pandemic is real.

Burnout isn’t just physical exhaustion. Take a few minutes to reflect if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself.

  1. Physical and emotional exhaustion. This is probably what you picture when you think about burnout—exhaustion that only has one solution—rest!
  2. Detachment and cynicism. Instead of feeling excited to work and connect with people, you may feel cynical and sarcastic towards them. You can also become dismissive and separate yourself from the people around you. 
  3. Lack of sense of personal efficacy. The feeling that your efforts are yielding nothing and are pointless. 

Taking Care of Your Entrepreneurial Mindset

The pandemic may have left mental scars – worries about the future, our family and our businesses – that may not have been as prevalent before. But we can still take steps to nurture our entrepreneurial mindset. 

Here are a few notes I took away from our conversation with Dr Walling:

1. Find your tribe or community

Your resilience is often is very much based on your sense of social support. That’s why you must find and create a community (virtual or in real life) that you can stay connected with. As entrepreneurs (and often solopreneurs), we already spend a lot of time alone. But now, with COVID, we’ve got to push ourselves to seek out connections. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you need twenty friends. You don’t even need a dozen. All you need is a small reliable group to help you stay grounded and allow you to feel understood, especially when the going gets tough.  

We've built a supportive community in our Digital Mavericks Facebook group that you can reach out to. Or you can look for like-minded people on Meetup or other interest groups on Facebook.

2. Give yourself room to process

While gratitude and remembering what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have can help you reset, sometimes it’s not enough. This past year has forced you to experience a new type of grief – the loss of free time, loss of community, even the loss of face-to-face interaction. It all has been quite overwhelming at times. So instead of distracting yourself from it and just pushing through, allow yourself to experience it and face it. 

3. Let go of fear and stop thinking everything will fall apart (it won’t!)

Burnout is real. So instead of thinking “everything will crumble if I don’t do it all”, be okay with a little bit of crumbling. Tell yourself, “The family will be okay. Everything will work out. We have enough.” 

Letting go also applies to how you handle bad clients. Maybe you’re holding on to them because you’re scared you won’t find new ones. You will! I’ve had so many entrepreneurs tell me how freeing it is to let go of a toxic client and see their business thrive afterwards.

4. Pause and put yourself in timeout

Instead of pushing through when you’re feeling overwhelmed or tired, take a moment to pause. Just put everything aside and take stock of what’s going on around you. Journal, reflect and then reach out for help if you need it.

5. Get away and rest

Probably not something you’d like to hear as an entrepreneur. But sometimes, we do need to get away from the hustle and bustle and get some rest. There is evidence that shows our brains can recover with enough rest, so take a break. Also, if you’re starting to recognise signs of burnout in yourself, it’s a sign that your brain needs some downtime. As Troy once said:

In order to get more shit done, you have to give yourself a break now and then.

Push Forward (You Can Do It!)

Resilience doesn’t mean you are never affected by what’s happening around you. Reach out, get help and take care of yourself so you can nurture that mental toughness. In that way, when you find yourself once again face-to-face with an obstacle or challenge, you’ll be able to push through and rebound. 

Our team of coaches are standing by to help you push through hurdles you might be facing in your business. Set up a Clarity Call, and we’ll take it from there!

If you want to watch the replay of our chat with Dr Sherry Walling, click here. (You’ll need to send a request to join the Facebook Group if you aren’t already a member). 

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Pete Perry

Pete Perry

Pete is the Head Coach at Agency Mavericks. He runs a digital agency, Wiltwyk Web Design, along the beautiful Hudson River in Upstate New York where he lives with his wife and two kids. He likes long walks in the evening, high impact karaoke with friends, and tacos. He can often be seen yelling at his favorite college sport teams on the television or in person. If you buy him a spicy margarita he'll tell you his life story - most of which is true.

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