The Resilient Entrepreneur: Thriving in Difficult Times

Entrepreneurship generally is not a mean feat. It even gets tougher when times become difficult. I understand this because we deal with lots of entrepreneurs at Khamsys; supporting them to create feasible business models, achieve minimum viable product (MVP), gain traction, and scale their businesses. However, many are of the opinion that trying times are always silver lined with opportunities.

Tech entrepreneurs attending a business training at Khamsys

I have extracted aphorisms from three of the greatest thinkers that have ever journeyed the earth to serve as an anchor for my writing. These words somewhat summarize everything about this article. However, for emphasis sake, I will be breaking down these thoughts and also attempt to chart a cause of action for entrepreneurs at this time.

Here are the aphorisms:

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity” — Albert Einstein

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune,” — William Shakespeare

“Entrepreneurs utilize innovation as a tool for exploiting opportunities presented by change” — Peter Drucker

Uncertainty and difficulties are unavoidable occurrences in life. We might never be able to determine how and when they come, but we can determine how we respond to them. Most periods of uncertainty present with them certain opportunities that only those that successfully navigate the uncertainties can attain.

Entrepreneurs by their nature are opportunity seekers. However, when the going gets tough, many entrepreneurs miss mind-blowing opportunities. Those who persist get all the rewards at the end. Studies show that recognizing opportunities and innovating in difficult economic periods are stronger determinants of entrepreneurship success than in periods of economic boom. It has also been indicated that the novelty of products and services introduced during difficult economic times is significantly higher than those introduced during a bullish economy.

It takes strong convictions and unequalled commitment to go searching for opportunities in turbulent times. However, those who go out searching would most times find what they are looking for. Here are a few things that every entrepreneur could adopt to guide their operations. The list is not exhaustive but practising the things here would definitely give you an edge.

Look beyond the present

Trying times are the perfect occasion to pick up your binoculars and get a wider and more distant view. It is absolutely important to survive in turbulent times, but it should never be at the expense of the future of your business. A time of uncertainty is not the best time for you to sit down and try to relax with what you have. You must look beyond surviving and start thinking of thriving. Clearly, you must be realistic about surviving the short term, but you must do it in such a way that it moves your overall strategy forward. Think future!


Consciously determine to innovate

Uncertainty has been identified as a great opportunity for innovation, but innovation never just happens. It could be misleading to think that the majority of creative ingenuity comes in a blinking of the eye. Yes, it could happen, but it rarely happens. Every innovation requires adequate effort. In the exact words of Peter Drucker, the greatest innovation thinker of the 21st century “What all successful entrepreneurs I have met have in common is not a certain kind of personality but a commitment to the systematic practice of innovation”. Every entrepreneur must be focused and purposeful about creating changes that are critical for success.


Differentiate between business opportunity and necessity

Turbulent times are not the time for you to do things because you just have to do them. Every activity and action must be well calculated for harnessing an opportunity. This is because you can’t risk using the not-so-available resources at this time for frivolities. You must embrace entrepreneurship this time as a hunter of opportunities and not just another means of surviving because of a lack of options. It is most likely that those that treat entrepreneurship as just a necessity would not survive the hard times.


Pay attention to customer retention

During harsh economic conditions, growth declines as a result of the decline in sales and revenue. Because you are not making sales should not deter you from keeping in touch with your customers. It is cheaper to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones. Amazingly, customer retention is one thing that ensures both short term and long term success of your business. Focus on activities that support your customers in their current situation. You must have to discover what has changed about your customers and what they need for you to better implement solutions.