5 Entrepreneurial Traits That Will Help You Succeed in a Crisis


“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Boxer Mike Tyson said, and I think it’s a quote most would agree can be liberally applied to the year 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on businesses this year, but it has also forced companies to adapt, improve, and embrace a new mentality.

In times of crisis, there is much to be gained from adopting certain aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset. Based on my experience as a business leader myself, here are five common traits of entrepreneurs to embrace, strengthen, and nurture in others to help pull your company through tough times.


Having thick skin is in the job description of an entrepreneur. It’s a professional lifestyle that, at least in the early stages, is often laden with failure, rejection, and a lot of metaphorical wastebaskets filled with crumpled up paper. What it forces you to do is pull yourself up by your bootstraps and come up with a game plan to persevere.

When my partner and I started Dotcom Distribution 20 years ago, our machinery was just purchased and the paint on the walls barely dry when the dotcom bubble burst, and 9/11 followed closely behind. We knew it would be a while before e-commerce was ready for our business model, but in order to still be in business when that time came, we had to unexpectedly pivot to a different, more traditional model. We had to call in every favor, negotiate with every vendor, and every payroll was a struggle. But as challenging as that time was, it trained me to think like a survivalist and now I know there’s nothing I can’t lead my company in overcoming.


Necessity is the mother of invention. As an entrepreneur, sometimes it’s in those moments when you feel completely stuck and have no idea what to do next that your resourcefulness kicks in and leads you to the next step. 

According to Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy, research indicates that highly resourceful people cope more effectively with stressful situations. For some, this comes innately, but it’s also possible to build the skill set through what psychologists refer to as learned resourcefulness. This term comprises a set of practiced behaviors including self-regulating emotional and cognitive responses during stressful situations, employing problem-solving skills, and delaying immediate gratification in the interest of more meaningful rewards in the future.


It’s often said that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Good leaders surround themselves with people who are the best at what they do and inspire them to perform to their full potential.

In uncharted circumstances, where no precedent has been set, there’s no telling who the best, most innovative solutions might come from. Not only will entertaining differing facts and opinions provide a more comprehensive view of a situation, but it also provides founders and CEOs more bandwidth to address urgent business matters that only he or she can.


Entrepreneurs, by trade, create ideas, products, services and other solutions that didn’t previously exist. That problem-solving mentality bodes well for a business in the face of a crisis because the focus remains on finding a means to an end rather than getting hung upon the frustrations and fears surrounding obstacles and potential outcomes.


Being an entrepreneur usually comes with a healthy dose of curiosity, which not only prompts answer-revealing questions and challenges norms, but also welcomes the unexpected. Embracing curiosity in the quest for a solution broadens the spectrum of considerations, allowing you to explore what works best, and sometimes just as importantly, what doesn’t.

The uncertainty start-up founders and entrepreneurs habitually face is very similar to the pandemic era business climate. All businesses encounter hurdles; the secret to clearing them is in how you respond. Adopting some of these qualities that help entrepreneurs deal with adversity–and encouraging your employees to do the same–will help prepare you to weather any storm.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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