Running a business

Episode 5: The importance of resilience and support systems for entrepreneurs

Life is lonely at the top. No one knows this more than Alexandre Bilodeau. He spent two Winter Olympic events both figuratively at the top of his game as a two-time gold medallist, and literally at the top of the slopes in his chosen event — freestyle mogul skiing.

To look after your business, start by looking after yourself

Currently, Alex, a Chartered Professional Accountant, spends his time advising entrepreneurs. One of his observations is that many of them have similar mental and emotional challenges.

"Many entrepreneurs are doubtful at certain points about their products. They'll ask, 'Is it good enough? Is it what I envision?'" he says. "It's a normal thought as you work out how to choose the right path during your journey. You don't want to let everybody down, but in the end, you're the one delivering the product or service."

Entrepreneurs might not find the help they need from Canada's start-up support ecosystem. Over 43% of them think the information and education it offers is inadequate. This makes a personal support network even more critical. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in May 2023, 39% of Canadian small business owners said they talk to people in their support network as a way to cope with business-related stress — a 6% increase over February 2022.

When the gate goes back and you leave your coach behind to begin your downhill run, you have only your thoughts to guide you. It takes resilience and mental discipline to alleviate self-doubt and stay on course. Here are some tips from Alex on how to prioritize mental health and self-care while also recognizing the importance of support systems.

The importance of a support network for small business owners

Alex teaches entrepreneurs what he learned about caring for himself as a world-class athlete. One of the most important things to help with self-doubt and stress is a robust support network.

"It's about surrounding yourself with the right people," he says, whether that's a community like a Young Presidents' Organization or even just a group of friends. "A group like that will listen to you and understand you, and might have even lived that experience."

Professional help was also key to Alex as an athlete. Medical experts, trainers, and a coaching team helped him stay committed, care for his personal health and well-being, and overcome his obstacles

Know when to rely on experts

Entrepreneurs can rely on business mentors and financial advisors to help overcome obstacles as they grow their business. This can be especially helpful for business owners facing uncertainty during major transitions, such as moving into new markets or products. Professional advice can help validate entrepreneurial strategies while offering new perspectives, helping you develop the courage of your convictions.

Ultimately, after all the advice has been given, the final decision is up to the entrepreneur. Resilience is key here. Everyone is allowed to have feelings of self-doubt — it's part of being human. Like athletes, entrepreneurs must learn to recover quickly from setbacks. They must learn how to adapt to their environment, rolling with whatever comes their way.

Sahajan Beauty owner stands by the shelf with a confident smile and mobile in hand. A pop-up screenshot showing accounts receivable by aging periods.

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Affirmations can help you stay motivated

When the gate opened at the top of the run on competition day, Alex used affirmations to keep himself grounded while rolling with those bumpy downhill moguls.

"Tall, soft, and keep it — those were the words I would repeat on the way down," he says. "I told myself I was tall, soft when I absorbed a mogul, and to keep my feet under me."

It takes time to develop that strong inner voice, but it can keep entrepreneurs on their feet as they navigate their own obstacles.

Take advantage of useful tools to streamline your business

One way to reduce stress and focus on your goals as a small business owner is to keep detailed records of all your business expenses. QuickBooks Online tracks and classifies expenses, helping you concentrate on important business decisions while ensuring all your deductions are claimed come tax time. Use QuickBooks Online to discover how you can easily manage your business expenses today.

<< Episode 4: How flexibility and humility can help your entrepreneurial journey<<

>> Episode 6: Want to succeed in business? Take time to breathe>>

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