What my first year in college taught me about resilience in business
Note: the photo is NOT me. During my freshman year at USC, I was ill-prepared for how expensive it was to live in Los Angeles. As a doctor’s kid from the Midwest, I thought I was pretty cool but by USC standards I was a dork. My carefully saved spending money was gone in two months for the right shoes, the right bag, etc. It was supposed to last all year. I was about to learn my first big lesson, one that taught me that resilience in business is a key asset.
I called my dad to tell him my woes. All the other kids were getting checks from their parents (we all spent too much, apparently) or in some cases, another credit card. Instead of wiring some cash to my bank account, Dad said, “Well that’s too bad. I guess you’re going to have to figure it out.”
I was absolutely furious. Mind you, he wasn’t being cruel…my housing and food was paid for and he knew it. Yet as I sat there with the equally pissed-off prince from Abu Dhabi (his dad wouldn’t let him have a jet AND a Porsche…he had to choose) I was learning one of the biggest lessons of my life. Resilience.
As a small business owner, I’ve nearly gone out of business several times. Resilience in business has been the only thing that’s kept me afloat. (Along with being stubborn.) At one point I had to take a part-time job writing the back covers of books to pay the bills. Another time I started freelance writing for Hooters Magazine. That, actually, was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.
Back to my current story. My dad taught me there is always a way to figure it out, even if it involves some sacrifice. I think entrepreneurs fail because they try one or two things, it doesn’t work, and boom – they’re done. That proverbial “check from Dad” didn’t show up and they had no other options. Never having had to scrap around for it, they simply give up.
Those moments when your business is about to fail (or fails) happen to every entrepreneur. Instead of quitting, real entrepreneurs learn how to bounce. In my experience, the harder you hit the pavement, the higher you bounce back. Failing over and over again and getting back up is when all the learning happens. It hurts, don’t get me wrong. But boy, is it way more fun to succeed after you’ve bombed a few times. Resilience in business is what kept me going after the Great Recession. And it keeps me going today.
Getting back to USC, you’re probably wondering what I did “figure it out.” I got a job as a secretary working for two professors. But I wasn’t their first choice. They called me back after the first person turned them down.