At your best, you’re brave, energetic and tenacious, with an intense drive to tackle the significant, wide-reaching problems you’ve committed to. But, along with the best entrepreneurs, if you don’t find a way to navigate the challenges that will inevitably come your way, you face the very real risk of failure.
Entrepreneur and author Punit Dhillon says resilience is the key to overcoming the setbacks that are inherent to entrepreneurship, and thinks this can be done by preparing in advance. Dhillon is CEO and chair of Skye Bioscience Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company developing a novel class of molecules for ocular diseases. He has been recognized as one of PharmaVOICE 100’s top CEOs and as a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of The Year. In his book Catapult, he offers insight into how entrepreneurs can build resilience and turn obstacles into opportunities.
“No matter how successful they ultimately become, every entrepreneur encounters setbacks in their journey,” Dhillon said. “By learning how to tackle some of the most common challenges head on, before they happen, you can develop into the strongest, most resilient person you can be so you can successfully make a lasting impact on the world.”
1. Expect every circumstance to change
As an entrepreneur, things are inevitably going to be thrown at you that you were not expecting. Rather than letting unexpected issues catch you off guard, you can predict them, and take steps now to pivot, adapt and succeed.
“Things never happen like you think they should,” Dhillon said. “Timelines will be estimates and you will have to pivot as you go along in order to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.” You can help mitigate potential risks by thinking through different scenarios ahead of time, then plan what you would do should they arise. This will ensure you are as prepared as possible going in to tackle anything that comes up.
Problems are nothing out of the ordinary when you are striving for greatness. “Success hinges on risk,” Dhillon explained, “which means you cannot have one without the other.” No matter what happens, remain focused on pushing through to completion, but be open to the method by which you get there. Your ability to maintain a cool head and calmly adapt when things change unexpectedly is key to finding success.
2. Prepare for the inevitable long hours
Shifting circumstances are one thing. Another common challenge is having to work long, difficult hours to get something crucial done. “Sometimes, we have to put in a lot of overtime to finish a work project or a deal,” Dhillon said. “I have faced my fair share of this over the last 20 years, and each time, it feels that much more intense.”
Putting in long days to reach an important goal is far easier when you believe in what you are doing and you have good people around you. Moral support cannot be underestimated, so make sure you have friends and coworkers who you can talk to, and who support your tenacity and drive rather than try to get you to work less. Make sure you are prepared, too. “It always pays to be on top of your own workload,” Dhillon explained. “Have a checklist of what needs to be done, take time to sleep and remember to breathe!”
In circumstances where things are out of your control, surrounding yourself with good people and making sure you are prepared will make long hours more enjoyable. Remember, you love what you do, you chose this path, so there’s no reason not to love extended days working on your mission.
3. Stay healthy when you are far away from home
Sometimes the challenge has more to do with where you are working than when you are working. Even though more business than ever is conducted remotely, many entrepreneurs still travel a great deal. If you don’t prioritize making healthy decisions, Dhillon said, business travel can negatively impact your energy, your health and your ability to get things done.
“For almost a decade, I boarded a plane over twice a week,” Dhillon said. “I have experienced delayed flights, detours, extreme weather conditions and even missed a flight while waiting at the gate because I had my noise-canceling headphones on and didn’t hear the boarding announcement.” Whether you travel frequently or just a few times per year, Dhillon knows from his own experience how to stay healthy. “When I am tired and far from home, the temptation to eat poorly is everywhere,” he explained. “To stay feeling my best, I focus on eating healthy food and maintaining hydration.”
Dhillon also suggested staying in a hotel with a gym and fitting in a workout once a day while you are away, which “will do wonders for your sleep when you are in different time zones.” Staying in the current time zone will help your circadian rhythm adapt, making it easier to settle into a routine and maintain a high level of productivity, passing on positively to your work.
Adapt and build resilience
Prepare for setbacks in advance by expecting circumstances to change, and welcoming change in. Be ready to work long hours to progress through challenges. Stay physically healthy, especially when traveling. Know that, over time, you will continue to survive whatever is thrown at you, and the experience will better inform you the next time something inevitably goes awry.