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Resiliency is the ability to recover from disruptive change -- a hallmark of today’s business environment. As such, being resilient is both a virtue as well as a skill of for today’s entrepreneurs.

Your ability to recover can mean the difference between having to pivot to a new angle for your business venture, or ending up as roadkill.

Here are three guiding principles to keep in mind when dealing with disruption. While I can’t provide you with a million dollar idea, I can grant you with some insight into what can help you in your journey to create that next blockbuster product:

Don’t Get Too Attached to Plans

A 19th century Prussian military strategist once said “a battle plan never survives first contact with the enemy.” Likewise, your entrepreneurial plans and strategies are likely not to survive first contact with the market and your competitors. You will quickly realize that resilience is a trait that is equally important as a great product idea.

Being resilient means being able to pivot away from otherwise negative outcomes to refine your strategy and approach. You may not have the resources to compete toe-to-toe with your competitors, but you can play to your strengths or to your adversary’s weaknesses. The goal is to live to fight another day.

For instance, a former client with a large real estate portfolio had spent considerable time developing a land-use strategy for their holdings. After a careful review of their strategy and of the local market, we shocked the client by proposing a radically different land use. Ultimately, our plan created an order-of-magnitude greater value over the long term. An inability to pivot from a previously held strategy would have left this client at a loss of substantial economic value over its lifetime. Resilience in this case had real economic consequences.

Learn to See Failures as Learning Opportunities

To the extent that a disruptive change is not a game ender, there is always a silver lining to the less-than-agreeable story. An entrepreneur needs to always be mindful of what can be learned from any given interaction, in both successes as well as failures. The latter can be parsed to identify the root causes and strategies developed to hedge against similar things in the future.

Being an entrepreneur is all about facing doubt and failure and pursuing that burning desire to succeed with a ferocity that most people can scarcely fathom. Your vision and passion must be so strong that it can survive being knocked down 99 times and you are still willing to get back on your feet for the 100th. If building a billion-dollar unicorn were that easy, then everyone would be doing it.   

Become a Glutton for Feedback

No one is an island, so it goes without saying that an entrepreneur should maintain connections with other peers and mentors to solicit feedback. An “outside-in” view is often an invaluable resource that is overlooked by many executives who assume that they must possess all of the experience and knowledge they need.

A typical entrepreneurial weakness is having too much ego to seek feedback. Wise entrepreneurs know that they do not have all of the answers and can benefit from some external perspective.

Conclusion

Many of the important aspects of entrepreneurship can be learned, or conversely, taught. You can learn to create a budget, code a webpage, conduct market research or create a social media campaign.

A more critical component of being an entrepreneur is the ability to absorb disruptive change and stay focused on the core mission of your business. There is no course or degree that can teach you how to recover.

You learn resiliency through repetition, staying flexible, learning from past failures and seeking feedback. Pay attention to the blocking and tackling of building a good business but always remember that your resilience will often determine whether you will be standing when disruptive change upends all of your carefully laid plans. 

Stephen Loy