‘The word entrepreneur is synonymous with stepping out of your comfort zone’

Mario ToneguzziPsychological resilience enables entrepreneurs to cope with challenges more effectively.

A recent study conducted by Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, in partnership with Concordia University, revealed how resilience alone accounts for an eight per cent greater chance of business survival. When mixed with the ability to interpret challenges or setbacks as puzzles to solve, which feeds proactive behaviour, the odds of business survival increases to an astounding 129 per cent.

Shari Hughson, director of the master of management innovation and entrepreneurship at Smith School of Business, says the journey of an entrepreneur starts long before they launch their venture.

“The first challenge is often the disbelief, skepticism and often negative comments from friends, family and colleagues when they announce they are quitting, or not taking ‘x’ job because they are going to start your own business. Good-intentioned people will say ‘you’re crazy’ and often joke about when you’ll be back or come to your senses,” says Hughson.

“Scarce resources are the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs struggle with. Their ability to creatively figure out how to access all the different resources they need with limited cash, talent, and time, is both a strong stressor and motivator to hustle. Overall, the word entrepreneur is synonymous with stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on a never-ending stream of problems and creatively solving them. The number one way for someone to increase their ability to mentally take on the world of entrepreneurship is to start embodying these qualities in their everyday life. Try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and do things that make you afraid.”

Shari Hughson, director of the master of management innovation and entrepreneurship at Smith School of Business
Shari Hughson

She says successful entrepreneurs have a few common and unique traits that help them stay resilient and mentally healthy.

“Typically, before becoming an entrepreneur, they were the people who pushed limits, tried new things, stood out from their peers in some way. Being unique and trying new things helps build three important tools that successful entrepreneurs have: self-confidence, resilience and emotional regulation,” says Hughson.

These three traits are often the difference in whether someone has long-term success or failure in entrepreneurial ventures.

Hughson also says the entrepreneurial mindset is constantly thinking about value creation, and traditional leaders think about maintaining current value.

“Today, more than ever, we have to find a way to do both very well within one organization, as both are critical to the success of a business,” she says.

“The core business needs to be nurtured, maintained and continuously grow in order for every organization to pay its bills and keep the lights on. But with rapid changes in technology and social pressures for more responsive organizations, the entrepreneurial leader is equally critical. The innovator mindset is one of value creation: constantly evaluating and taking in information, ideas and insights to create new value for an organization.”


Psychological resilience a key for entrepreneurial success

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