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As Business Relief Advisor for a rural development agency during this pandemic I have witnessed immense pain, fear, and frustration amongst entrepreneurs.

Just yesterday a business owner left me a voice mail to explain why she hadn’t returned forms for a loan application, and she started to cry. She’d been hit by yet more setbacks in her business. She was at her wits’ end. Then she sent me a text to apologize for “being unprofessional,” horrified that I would think less of her capabilities as a business owner because she had dared show emotion.

The narrative around entrepreneurship is so focused on heroism and success at all costs that it perpetuates a cult of perfection which makes us think:

I can’t cry. I can’t screw up. I can’t quit.

This is so unhealthy! Before this pandemic, the Canadian Mental Health Association published a report that:

  • 62% of entrepreneurs feel depressed at least once a week
  • Women business owners whose enterprises are in early stages, with fewer employees or less revenue, are more likely to report mental health issues.

What I have learned from my research on entrepreneurial resilience is that thinking we must always project perfection is a formula to FAIL. There is no perfect. There is just progress.

As an entrepreneur, one of the best ways to help yourself and others around you is to give yourself permission to be human.

Normalize learning from setbacks. Cry, have the meltdown, vent. Then ask yourself:

Was there ever a time I encountered this before? If so, what did I do? Remind yourself you’ve overcome adversity before. You have been resilient in the past, so you can be resilient again.

If this is a new setback, one that feels unfamiliar and scary, what is the lesson? What would you like to remember for the next time?

If you can, share your setback story with another Business Sister, someone you trust or feel comfortable with. Resilience is a learned set of skills and learning from others’ stories may be a quicker path to success than all the hero-worship stories and quotes you will ever read!

What Do You Think?

Please share your experiences and thoughts below. Let’s learn from one another and celebrate each other’s successes.

Thanks for reading!

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