How to remain resilient in the face of adversity

Neil Steven

Neil Steven

Business Advisory Partner

This article first appeared in the Spring 2024 edition of Scottish Land & Estates Land Business magazine.

With 2024 now well underway, the outlook for rural businesses remains challenging and, for many, dauting, given the variety of changes taking place across policy and climate aspects (to name but two), with new market opportunities appearing alongside.  In the face of adversity, some businesses (including the key decision-making individuals therein) struggle while others seem to thrive. What sets these resilient individuals and businesses apart?

Resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, is a quality that can be cultivated and nurtured. It's not about avoiding difficulties but rather about facing them with courage and adaptability. In this article, I explore the key aspects of resilience from an individual and business perspective.

Resilience is not a fixed trait but rather a dynamic process that evolves over time. When confronted with adversity, the mark of a resilient individual is a mindset focused on growth and learning rather than defeat. Viewing setbacks as temporary obstacles rather than insurmountable barriers encourages perseverance in the face of difficulty.

Optimism also plays a crucial role in this. Optimism serves as a powerful motivating force and helps resilient individuals maintain a positive outlook even when the odds are stacked against them. The impact of believing in your ability to overcome challenges, and having confidence in your capacity to succeed, should not be underestimated.

Another key aspect of resilience – and particularly relevant for those in the rural sector - is the ability to adapt to change. Life is unpredictable, and unexpected challenges can arise at any moment. Resilient individuals possess the flexibility to adjust their goals and strategies in response to changing circumstances. Rather than clinging to rigid plans, it’s important to remain open to uncertainty and be willing to embrace the new possibilities that change often brings with it.

At a business level, resilience stems from factors including adaptability, by staying agile and open to innovation; community engagement, by creating a sense of belonging and shared purpose; diversifying, by creating new enterprise revenue sources to spread commercial risk; and lastly by taking a long-term perspective and a commitment to sustainability. 

In other words, rural businesses must balance short-term profitability with the preservation of natural resources.  By adopting environmentally friendly practices alongside reinvesting in community development initiatives, rural businesses can create value that extends beyond financial returns.  Such a holistic approach to sustainability strengthens rural economies and enhances their ability to withstand future challenges.    

At both an individual and business level, social support is another important factor that contributes to resilience. Having a strong support network of friends, family, mentors, and trusted advisers can provide a crucial source of strength and encouragement during difficult times. Resilient individuals and businesses are not afraid to reach out for help when needed and are willing to offer support to others in return. By fostering meaningful connections and building a sense of community, you can create a safety net to help you navigate the ups and downs of life and business.

Governments, financial institutions, and community organisations can play a vital supporting role too, by providing access to funding and training programs and investing in rural infrastructure (transport and broadband) to help create a more enabling environment for economic development.

In conclusion, resilience is crucial for rural businesses to thrive in the face of adversity and uncertainty.  Our history has shown that rural businesses can overcome challenges with creativity, collaboration, and perseverance.  The same can be done again by seeing the present obstacles as opportunities for growth and transformation, and thereby emerging stronger and more resilient whilst contributing to the long-term prosperity of rural communities.

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