How to Be a Resilient Entrepreneur


Being an entrepreneur isn’t all sunshine and roses. Every business has its ups and downs, and every entrepreneur will have to overcome obstacles and work through adversity.

“Business” skills are important, but being an idea machine, financial wizard, and marketing genius will only get you so far. When you hit that tough time, you need strength of character, and specifically resilience, to power through. When you get knocked down, what happens?

I think resilience is a complex virtue, though. Here’s a breakdown of what it means to be resilient.


The first element of resilience is a sense of the situation. I’m using the term gravitas, although I know that tends to bring up an image of an ultra-serious, humorless person. You don’t have to lose your sense of humor to have the kind of gravitas I’m talking about, though. What you do need to have is the ability to recognize when you’re in a serious situation and give it the attention it deserves. A person can have a very light-hearted personality and/or live a joyful life while still getting down to work when trouble comes. Someone who is unable to recognize or adapt to the situation at hand will be unable to respond with the speed and focus they need when their world starts to crumble.

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Next up is a sense of dignity and self-worth. To possess the resilience needed to thrive in the up-and-down world, an entrepreneur has to have a certain level of confidence and pride—not undue hubris or over-confidence, but a healthy, steady confidence that is not being alternately destroyed and puffed up by the vicissitudes of fortune. When you are going through a challenging time, have the dignity to keep steady and overcome—and to not be swept away by success, either. This, too, shall pass.


Part of the resilience to overcome obstacles is a sense of the duty you owe to the people around you. A business is bigger than just you. You’ll hear people talk about the concept of stakeholders—all the people who are connected in various ways to the success of the business, from employees to customers to partners to mentors and beyond. That connection with other people provides motivation to solve problems. The question of your own personal success or failure is important, but there may come a time when you’re willing to give up on “just” yourself—remembering that what you do doesn’t just affect you, but affects other people can keep you going beyond what you thought you could do.


I guess a lot of people would say “perseverance” or “determination” or “persistence” or a word like that, but there’s something appealing about the colloquialism. The ancient Romans called it firmitas—strength of mind and steadfastness. You might even say it requires a bit of stubbornness. Situations change and problems arise, but entrepreneurs must keep going, always trying to move forward. It’s not about standing still—that will get you nowhere. Nor is it about motion for the sake of motion, doing something just to do something. Rather, you’re moving the best way you see toward the goal. Sometimes you might even be moving side-to-side, and occasionally take a step backwards, but it’s always in service of achieving the ultimate goal, never losing sight of the purpose behind it all. You want to see stick-to-it-iveness? Watch some game film of our CEO Fran Tarkenton in his NFL days.

It’s the same as an entrepreneur. Life happens and disrupts our plans, but we keep going and find a way to succeed, even if it’s not exactly the way we drew it up at first.

The resilient entrepreneur needs to recognize the situation, maintain confidence, look at the bigger picture of everyone involved, and just keep going. It’s not always easy, but it’s always exciting.

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Edwin Bevens

Edwin Bevens

Edwin Bevens is the Head Writer and Editor for Tarkenton Companies, and the Editor of With a background in journalism and publishing, Edwin received a 2008 South Carolina Press Association Award for reporting. Developing, producing, and maintaining content across multiple websites, Edwin focuses on helping small business owners find the right match of voice, audience, and medium for every message.