Entrepreneurial resilience13 Aug 2013
Cranfield research explains the role of teams and networks in conquering adversity
In the current economic climate, where ventures increasingly face challenges such as less buoyant demand or growing strains on cash flows, it is ever more vital for entrepreneurs to be resilient and to successfully overcome adversity, writes Dr Stephanie Hussels
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that suggests that resilience is one of the key determinants of venture success. However, there is still no consensus as to what this vital, yet intangible, concept means in the context of entrepreneurship and in particular in the case of fast growing businesses.
In order to gain a clearer understanding of the key attributes of entrepreneurial resilience, in-depth interviews were conducted with seasoned investors using repertory grid - an innovative structured interviewing technique adopted from psychology research. Three key attributes of resilience emerged as being vital in the context of fast growing businesses:
- Creating a strong team and leveraging it to its full potential - This includes creating an environment which encourages team based problem solving and innovation and tapping into the team’s skills, initiative, and expertise when needed
- Building a broad and diverse external professional network and being able to take advantage of it when mobilizing resources such as hiring new staff, engaging advisors and accessing finance - This is often referred to as possessing a strong ‘social capital’
- Understanding your own personnel strengths and weaknesses with regards to the venture and how best to deploy them at each growth phase of the business - Entrepreneurs need to consider in which role his/her strengths are best applied within the venture (for instance, in the early years of Apple, Steve Jobs hired a CEO to run the business, giving him the opportunity to concentrate on research and development, his real passion and core expertise).
Relevant “experience and expertise” was mentioned most frequently by investors when asked to compare and contrast entrepreneurs in terms of being resilient. However, intriguingly, the analysis of the interviews highlighted that “experience and expertise” was not seen as a key differentiator when successfully dealing with adversity. As such, they were merely regarded as hygiene factors that each entrepreneur is expected to possess.
Applying the above findings in fast growing businesses is by no means a guarantee for success, but should enable entrepreneurs to become more resilient, bounce back from adversity, and conquer the challenges and battles lying ahead. As Confucius said: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.
Dr Stephanie Hussels works in the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management – which is runs the Business Growth Programme and is the Official Research Partner of the National Business Awards. For more information on the BGP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1234 751122.