Personal Resilience

Written by Chanie Hyde on the 27th of April, 2017

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Why is resilience so important for startup founders?

The startup journey isn’t easy. In the race to build and launch a product, respond to feedback and raise the funds required to grow, founders face major challenges and huge demands on their mental, emotional and physical energy.

The ability of a founder to succeed hinges greatly on their personal resilience and the way they care for themselves to maintain their stamina for the road ahead.

Following a thought provoking workshop with the SheStarts founders, we sat down with Health and Resilience consultant at GSK Australia, Jacqui Smith, to explore personal resilience and glean some tips to help all entrepreneurs build their resilience.

“Startup founders live in a fast paced, constantly changing environment. Due to this demanding environment they need the energy to perform well, not only at work but also at home,” Jacqui says.

It is important to understand energy and resilience from early on. This helps align key values for the company. To begin, founders should ask themselves questions such as:

  • What kind of leader do I want to be?
  • What kind of example do I want to set for my company?
  • What are the values for my company?
  • How do I want to engage with people within my company?

“In order to work and live well, we need to be able to build our energy and maintain it, which is why resilience is very important to any entrepreneur.”


So how do you build resilience in such a fast-paced environment?

Jacqui suggests to assessing energy levels to draw a baseline from. When talking about energy in a sense of resilience, it’s useful to divide it into 5 sections:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Recovery

It’s important to identify the areas that need immediate attention and those that need work. Once sections that require improvement have been recognised, listing actions to assist is the next step. Actions will help you define desired outcomes.

Pick 1 or 2 actions that you can change easily and maintain in the current environment. Including one ‘quick win’ to keep motivated is important.

“Work on one thing at the time.” says Jacqui.

Importantly, recovery is key to resilience.

Every founder needs to understand what recovery means to themselves, and find new actions to support recovery during the work day. This could be anything from spending lunch breaks outside of the office, to creating clear and appropriate boundaries between work and home life.


What are the keys to taking action and changing habits?

To reach a goal, taking action and changing habits is key.

Every founder needs to recognise which areas to focus on, based on an honest assessment of their energy.

There are 4 fundamental factors of positive actions; Value, Time, Energy and Action.

Jacqui’s tips to build sustainable actions are:

  • Link the change desired to one or more core values.
  • Be precise in both timing and behaviours of all actions.
  • Focus on an outcome.
  • Be motivated by the action.
  • Acquire only 1-2 new actions at any one time.
  • Invest extraordinary energy for 30 to 60 days to make new action a habit.
  • Create a supportive environment.


Essential actions for startup founders to implement right now…

It is important to find an action that will help founders to recover from an energy deficit.

“What works for one person’s recovery might not work for another, it can be very personal.”

Some examples of actions to adapt to daily life are:

Emotional – “Ask someone every day how they are, and actively listen to their response.”

Physical – “Ride your bike to work three times a week.”

Mental – “Focus on one task at a time rather than multi-tasking.”

Spiritual – “Have your mission statement at sight at all times to remind you about your values and goals.”