An entrepreneur is someone who sees a new opportunity and creates a business or social enterprise to exploit it. Throughout the Pacific are examples of young, and not so young, entrepreneurs who have seen an opportunity to do something for themselves and grasped it with both hands. In this series I am exploring what it means to be an entrepreneur in the Pacific. Today my focus is on being an entrepreneur post Covid or indeed after any disaster.
The key concept here is resilience - the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and disasters. Resilience is the ability to maintain high levels of positive thinking in the face of adversity and challenge. It is not that resilient individuals never experience negative thoughts, but rather that those thoughts quickly pass and are replaced by positive ones!
Resilient people have certain attributes in common. They have high levels of self-control – they understand their emotions well and can manage them. They are self-confident people with strong self-belief and the ability to manage and organise themselves when necessary. Resilient people have clear goals for themselves, their families and their businesses. They know where they are heading and why they are going in a particular direction. Even though the journey may be hard and fraught with dangers, the destination is clear.
Resilient people will always learn from the past but will never let it stop them moving forward. They will see stressful situations as presenting challenges to be overcome, not blockages to the journey. Resilient people have a healthy sense of humour. They are patient, tolerant of others and full of optimism. They focus on actions rather than words and they always embrace change. Finally resilient people know that they cannot do everything themselves – they build strong relationships and will always ask for help.
Nelson Mandela had a lot to say about resilience; ‘I never lose. I either win or learn’ and ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’ are two that stick in ther mind. Mahatma Gandhi said that ‘Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength’.
While disasters are horrible at the time they always pass. Your desire to be a successful entrepreneur will still be there. Indeed, it is likely to be even stronger. At the moment many businesses are not able to operate fully so use the opportunity to reflect on the past and on what you have learned so far as a businesswoman or man. Then start to create your own future. Recently I was talking with someone who had just bought himself a whiteboard to have at home so he could write down his dreams and draw pictures of his hopes and fears. He was telling me that this simple device has encouraged his whole family to join in and to communicate in a way that wasn’t happening before. Think of doing something similar at work with your staff and partners. Celebrate all the ideas you have between you.
Disasters show us just how fragile we are, so we really do need to focus our minds on both resilience – our ability to bounce back better than ever before – and on sustainability – our ability to keep going through the next disaster. We couldn’t prepare for Covid-19 because most of us did not see it coming but we can create sustainable businesses and lifestyles which will help us through any future disaster.
Think about the resources you use, the amount of waste in your business, the way you treat your staff and customers, the impact you have on the environment, your contribution to your community and to your local economy, your commitment to buying and selling local, how technology can help your business become more sustainable, your local networks and support mechanisms and how up-to-date your plans are. Just thinking about these things will have an immediate impact on the sustainability of your business and, as your thoughts turn into actions, your influence on others around you will grow rapidly.
If, as a result of Covid, every small business in the Pacific becomes a champion for sustainability and resilience then we should all be proud and face the future with confidence and determination.
Give yourself credit for how far you have come
Next week I start a new series of articles – positive mindsets for a positive future. If you need any contacts or advice, then do get in touch.
I hope you have enjoyed this series. As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.