In the world of entrepreneurship, resilience is not just a trait but a necessary skill. it enables entrepreneurs to navigate the inevitable uncertainties, setbacks, and stress inherent in starting and growing a business.
This was the central theme of our latest BuildBetter event featuring Alexandre Louisy, CEO and Co-Founder of Upflow, Julia Neel Biz, CEO and Co-Founder of Teale, and moderated by Hugues Renou, CEO and Co-Founder of Tengo. The discussion revolved around the idea that entrepreneurship is a balancing act— with your feet in the trash while your eyes gaze at the stars. Here are some insights on how to cultivate resilience as an entrepreneur.
1. Focus on the vision
Both Alexandre and Julia spoke about resilience in challenging times. They said that in your lowest of times when you feel like throwing in the towel, the only thing that is going to keep you moving forward is believing in your company and wanting to achieve the vision you have for it. While it might sound cheesy, it’s true. Your company’s vision needs to be anchored so deeply that ultimately, choppy waters can’t rock it too much.
Alexandre Louisy underscored this:
"When you have a clear vision in your mind, it serves as a beacon, guiding you through rough waters."
His sailing analogy captures the essence of entrepreneurial resilience: just as a sailboat must constantly adjust its course in response to changing winds and currents, entrepreneurs need to be adaptable, navigating obstacles while staying true to their ultimate goals.
Resilience is further reinforced by translating a clear vision into tangible objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Such concrete goals act as a compass, offering direction amidst the often unpredictable journey of entrepreneurship. They’re not only beneficial for founders but also for employees who also need to show resilience.
2. Celebrate the small wins
Julia stressed the importance of celebrating achievements, no matter how small. Acknowledging successes is crucial because the human brain tends to focus on the negative. This celebration is a part of building a positive and resilient mindset.
"At Teale, we celebrate every win, big or small, in our dedicated Slack channel. We strive to foster a culture where everyone, from founders to employees, rejoices in successes. It helps strengthen our collective resilience."
3. Take time off
Alex highlighted the significance of taking breaks, explaining that he makes some of his best decisions for Upflow when he's off. With offices in New York and Paris, he encourages his teams, especially in the US, to take holidays.
Julia Neel Biz of Teale stressed the importance of work-life balance, mentioning Teale's policy of no meetings between noon and 2 PM, allowing time for physical activity and mental rejuvenation.
4. Accept imperfection
Drawing an analogy with sports, Alex pointed out the importance of coaching and feedback in entrepreneurship. He shared his personal experience of always seeking feedback and self-improvement.
"Entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey, and you can be resilient by accepting imperfection.”
5. Be open with your team
Julia Neel Biz talked about the importance of openness and honesty in the workplace. She said that as a founder it’s too easy to slip into thinking that you need to be the rock for everyone, that you need to show unwavering stability to your team. However, this can put too much pressure on you, and it can also be beneficial for your team to share when you’re struggling. It can act as a green light to them that it’s okay for them to also show when they’re struggling.
By sharing her own experiences of stress and challenges, she fosters an environment where mental health is a priority. The entire Teale team, from leadership to employees, actively uses their own mental health software, to ensure that everyone prioritizes their mental health and build resilience along the way.
Similarly, at Upflow, the practice of starting every one-on-one meeting with the question, "How are you on a scale of 1 to 5?" is more than just a check-in; it's an approach to fostering resilience. This practice encourages not only honesty and openness but also creates a supportive space where individuals can address and manage their challenges, contributing to a resilient team dynamic.
6. Consider the five balls of life
In the discussion, Alex referenced the "five balls of life" analogy, popularized by Brian Dyson of Coca-Cola, which encapsulates the essence of work-life balance and resilience. This metaphor depicts life as juggling five balls—work, family, health, friends, and spirit—where the work ball is rubber and rebounds when dropped, symbolizing its resilience. In stark contrast, the remaining balls made of glass—family, health, friends, and spirit—are fragile and, if dropped, can be irrevocably damaged.
This analogy serves as a guiding principle emphasizing the need for careful balancing of work and life by prioritizing personal well-being and relationships alongside professional commitments.
7. Be resilient, not obstinate
The conversation concluded with a focus on the delicate balance between resilience and obstinance. Julia emphasized the critical importance of heeding the cues from your body and mind. Recognizing and acting on signs of overwork is essential to prevent burnout and maintain healthy resilience. Julia shared:
‘Don’t ignore obvious signs that things are a bit off. if you forget to get off your metro stop twice in one week, don’t just put it down to being deep in thought. take a step back and check in with yourself’
BuildBetter is Hexa's event series, committed to guiding entrepreneurs on how to create more impactful companies. This series brings together entrepreneurs and experts to discuss a broad spectrum of topics on better company building, from mental health, to creating inclusive cultures, defining company missions, and ways to make a positive impact on the world as an entrepreneur.
Hexa is a startup studio that gives founders the best chances to create outstanding companies - companies that are more innovative, ambitious and impactful.