What do I see when I look at a woman entrepreneur? I see the face of her dreams, the wildness of her ideas, the passion she has for her work.
Resilience is the capacity to overcome pain and difficulty. Of all the abilities required to be an entrepreneur, resilience is the only one you cannot replace, outsource, or entrust to someone else. Resilience is essential for your survival and it must come from within.
Entrepreneurship is by definition a complex activity that instills fear and requires great effort. It forces you to leave your comfort zone, break your protective shell and face the unknown. It requires you to confront your deepest fears with courage and serenity and to resist those who oppose you. It calls on you to abandon what was built, design new ships and dare to wander through unknown seas and territories.
This year, I was elected as a mentor and role model through WENYC (Women Entrepreneurs of NYC), an initiative from the City of New York to empower women entrepreneurs. Through WENYC and through my foundation CoreWoman.org, I have had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of women entrepreneurs of all kinds: those who are entrepreneurs by choice, those who left the corporate world to pursue their dreams and those for whom entrepreneurship is their sole means of subsistence.
This has allowed me to see the many forms, races, dimensions, ages, colors and flavors of female entrepreneurship.
What do I see when I look at a woman entrepreneur?
I see the face of her dreams, the wildness of her ideas, the passion she has for her work – and the anxiety of a person attempting to steal a few minutes from her daily routine to create something new and better to contribute to personal, family and social progress. I see the eyes of courage and, deep inside, the steady pumping of resilience.
These hundreds of women have allowed me to discover the magic formula for resilience for entrepreneurship:
Resilience = To Persevere + To Reinvent Yourself
It’s not easy for anyone to achieve the dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
In the beginning, your income will be less than if you were working at an office. You will be alone for long stretches. At some points, your life will not have a clear structure. Finding balance between work and family will be a luxury you can’t afford while you work on stabilizing your business.
There will be days when you feel the weight of exhaustion and there isn’t enough time for everything you want or need to do. Yet, who said undertaking something extraordinary would require only ordinary actions?
Those who persevere are the entrepreneurs who walk in spite of fatigue, who have a touch of naivety, who do not know it all but who try to find out. Perseverance keeps you moving toward your ultimate purpose: finding new paths and new solutions, creating new products and businesses with concepts that will change human existence forever.
Those who persevere are the entrepreneurs who transform and leave the valuable legacy of a better world. Doesn’t every human being desire this, deep down?
Who says everything will be all right? Who knows when they wake up in the morning all the things that will happen today? How many things really turn out exactly as planned?
A big part of life is being prepared for what’s out of our hands. It’s worth having a plan B, C and even a plan Z. That last plan may be the only alternative to pilot your destiny through circumstances over which you have no control.
Entrepreneurship is no different. How well you know a product, the number of master’s diplomas hanging on your wall, or even your years of experience – none of these matter if you cannot use them to reinvent yourself.
Reinvention is a necessity because our companies change faster than we can notice. Our society transforms itself by giant steps. What works today will be obsolete by next month.
Ask yourself: What is the next step for your product? How can your business work a little bit better? What do your users like the most? What solutions do you bring to the table?
Get rid of what you think is wonderful about your business and create it again, over and over. Sometimes failure is only another way to renew your relationship with novelty and initiative.
And reinvent your solution to cope with adversity. Adversity is not under your control, but your ability to persevere and to reinvent is.
I would like to think that this formula is as simple in practice as it is in theory. And I would like to believe that this fantastic mix of permanent perseverance and creativity could solve many of our human, family, work and collective problems, even when the individual challenges seem unimaginably complex.
My 15 years as an entrepreneur have taught me that understanding is the first step to transformation. I hope that understanding the magic formula of resilience will strengthen the internal pump that propels your entrepreneurial efforts forward, day by day, week by week and year by year.
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