The American Psychological Association describes resilience as the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences. Especially through mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility.
As a Black business owner, there has been a particular need for me to develop a high level of resilience. According to statistics, less than 5% of businesses in the UK are owned by a black person. Additionally, the number of CX Consultants, Trainers and Influencers who are from a Black or ethnic minority background is small but growing. Because of these factors, building a business in this landscape has often felt lonely and isolating. I am the first person among my friends and family to leave a corporate role to pursue a dream of building a successful business. I’ve had to develop grit, determination and, of course, resilience.
Here are some of the tools I have embraced to develop a thick skin as a Black female CX Entrepreneur.
I started my company, The Experience Corporation, in 2019 with the aim of helping organisations to improve CX through training and consulting. Initially, I felt uncertain about leaving the security of a 9 – 5 job and salary. To overcome this fear, I diligently researched and learned from other female entrepreneurs who had built successful businesses.
Another challenge was trying to find other black females who had started a similar business in the CX space. Although I didn’t find any, this did not deter me. Seeing mainly white males as CX Trainers, Executives, Authors and Coaches was sometimes intimidating. However, I pushed through this feeling and started building my business.
Embrace courage, bravery and action rather than fear, intimidation and negativity.
Create a Vision
Creating a specific vision of where I want my business to go has been critical for me to build resilience. I have a long-term vision of where I see the company heading over the next 10 years in terms of revenue, client base and global reach. This is important as it gives me a purpose and helps me to work hard towards my goals on a daily basis.
Create a long-term strategy and work hard towards it every day.
Look Past Colour
Even though I am technically a ‘minority’ I have never seen myself in that way. I just see myself as a person, a Mother, a Wife, and an Entrepreneur. I tend to look past a person’s colour and choose to see them as human, a professional, a colleague or a friend. When working with clients, I adopt this mindset to ensure I am free of any racial and cultural biases.
Try and see a person for who they are and the value they bring rather than their sex, colour or status.
Blaze a New Trail
I am the first in my family and amongst my friends to start a business. This has sometimes led to me feeling lonely as the challenges of entrepreneurship are very unique. However, I have embraced the difficulties, setbacks and hard times in order to blaze a new trail for other black females to perhaps follow. Embrace the difficulty and challenge of blazing a new trail and keep your eyes on the long-term vision.
Build a Strong Network
We are all a product of the people we meet, the books we read and the places we go. I have built up a small but close group of friends who support me in my professional goals, share my faith and choose to be positive over negative.
Ensure you are surrounded by people who will support you on tough days and celebrate with you when you win.
A key trait of becoming more resilient is to become a lifelong learner so that you can continuously grow and develop your skills and character. I read at least one book a month on various topics such as business management, success principles and Customer Experience. I also listen to Podcasts, read articles and watch educational YouTube videos.
Never stop learning.
Building a business from scratch in the CX industry involves a lot of trial, error and trying new things. Whilst building The Experience Corporation, I have experienced delays, setbacks, periods of waiting, and slow months of growth. But despite this, I have been able to work with dream clients such as The National Health Service (NHS), been named a Top CX Influencer and been featured on The Female Entrepreneur Association providing CX tips.
Every setback is usually followed soon after by a breakthrough. I have learnt that failure is part of the entrepreneurship journey. So I embrace all the setbacks and celebrate every win, no matter the size and scale of it.
Failing is better than not trying at all.