How Small Business Leaders Can Build Resilience

By Julie Knudson | Posted October 22, 2013

Are you a resilient leader? The type who can tackle problems, devise creative solutions and recover when things don't go as planned? If so, chances are your company has a better chance of surviving adversity than those helmed by people who let challenges overwhelm them.

Resilience isn't just a nice-to-have quality for small business leaders, says Roxi Hewertson. It's a key ingredient to success. Hewertson, known as "The Dear Abby of Leadership," is the leadership authority at AskRoxi and the CEO of Highland Consulting Group. She believes that resilience is crucial, particularly in today's business environment. "When you're in a leadership role, resilience makes a big difference," she says. "It makes people feel a lot safer."

The still-fragile economic recovery, the difficulties small businesses face securing funding, and the importance of finding and retaining the right employees, places enormous stress on leaders today. But it doesn't have to weigh you down. By developing a true resilient mindset, you can continue growing your business regardless of the obstacles around you.

4 Steps to a Resilient Mindset

1. Don't go it alone

Hewertson says it's crucial that leaders make good connections. "They need to reach out to people and not isolate themselves, so they have a solid network they can depend on in times of stress and adversity." Family members, friends, and people within your own organization—as well as leaders in other businesses—all play vital roles in your support structure as a resilient leader. "It's their whole network that will help support them during times of stress," Hewertson says.

2. Accept help

When that support network offers assistance and advice, resilient leaders take it. It's a concept that can be tough to grasp sometimes. "A lot of people say, 'I can do it myself,' or 'it's weak to ask for help,'" Hewertson says. That kind of thinking can leave a leader grappling with despair, as his internal coping and problem-solving mechanisms remain stuck.


"The truth is that smart people know when they need input from other people," Hewertson says. None of us have all the answers. Your support structure is there to provide you with a helping hand.

3. Keep your eye on the goal

"Another tactic is to stay laser focused on your goal, so you don't allow distractions to sidetrack you from moving forward in a positive way," Hewertson says. Even simply taking the time to identify one thing you can accomplish today that will move your small business forward is a step toward building your resiliency. That mindset can keep you from being derailed by troubling issues that could affect your progress.

4. Maintain a positive outlook

Building resilience requires leaders to purposely cultivate the right attitude. Rather than seeing a crisis as an insurmountable problem, resilient leaders remain optimistic about finding a way to overcome whatever's in front of them. "We've all recovered and bounced back from bad stuff in our lives," Hewertson says.

The trick is to remember that you have tackled problems before, and you can do it again. Use those experiences, even if they seem minor now, to readjust your attitude. It will create confidence and increase your resilience.

Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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