Building Resiliency: Embracing Uncertainty in Entrepreneurship


You can do two things in times of uncertainty: either quit or make the best of it. The world is moving through a recession now, and there is nothing you can say about what the future holds. The world is hit first by a coronavirus and then by the Ukraine-Russia war. Both of these disrupt the supply and demand chain, causing inflation worldwide. It seems very difficult for countries to come out of that inflation cycle, and that is where the uncertainty looms.

Companies that learn how to deal with this uncertainty will lead the world in the future. There are very few companies and CEOs that are not afraid of the market’s uncertainty, and Shopify’s president, Harley Finkelstein, is one of them. According to him, people should not be afraid of the market’s uncertainty but rather see it as an opportunity.

What are Harley Finkelstein’s views about uncertainty?

Harley Finkelstein is an entrepreneur who started working at the age of thirteen. He is currently the president of Shopify, one of the world’s top online shops. In a podcast, he shared his view about the market’s uncertainty. He said that “the numbers support that there are more people starting businesses on a monthly basis now than ever before,”. It means that more and more people are coming into the business sector, which can be a bigger win for the market.

Finkelstein is of the view that low economic periods give you more opportunities compared to higher economic periods. To quote him, “If you look back at 2008 or 2001—times where you have the threat of recession or an actual recession—you do see more entrepreneurial activity.” He further added that in the modern technological world, it is very easy to start a new business and launch it in a global market. You can easily provide services to a worldwide audience. He believes that modern technology gives you more options to expand your business. “You can use YouTube live selling, get listed in Google search, or grab a point of sale device and do a pop-up.” He said.

Intention matters more

Finkelstein gives a few pieces of advice to those who want to be entrepreneurs. According to him, there was a time when people used to try different things and make a bunch of mistakes. But people need to be very cautious in today’s world. Harley Finkelstein says, “I think now you have to be a little bit more precise.” “You have to be a little bit more thoughtful.” He advises new entrepreneurs to be intentional about their main quest and not to be overexcited about trying new things.

You should keep your primary quest intake and test your ideas through a framework that tells you whether they lead you to your primary quest or not. And if the latter, there is no point in putting effort there. He further added that the world is passing through very hard times where supply and demand chains are disrupted, and interest rates are high. Additionally, funding is more difficult than ever, there is uncertainty in the market, and the return on ad spend is lower comparatively. Keeping all these things in mind, those businesses will be more effective if they use resources more wisely and effectively. Additionally, companies with a primary mission while avoiding distractions will lead the race.

Make a few but devoted clients

Finkelstein says that “there’s no doubt about it that the cost of customer acquisition has gone up,. and It is more challenging today than it was a year ago, two years ago.” he talked about The “100 true fans” theory which says that targeting a smaller but more dedicated audience can produce a far greater result than trying to appeal to a larger and more general audience. He took the same approach when he was starting Firebelly Tea with his partner, David Segal. Finkelstein believes that by focusing on cultivating a core group of loyal customers or fans, a brand or individual can create a strong community that can help spread the word and generate more interest and business.

Think differently

Finkelstein believes that there is more competition in the market than ever, and to win in such a competitive environment, you have to think differently. He says, “If you’re a coffee brand, Maxwell House has more money than you, and Starbucks has more money than you.” “They’re going to outspend you when it comes to an ad platform,” he added, adding that the one thing that these high-level businesses do not have is you. They lack entrepreneurs, and that should be your strength. He advises business owners to embrace authenticity and individuality in order to forge deep connections and inspire client loyalty.

Know your customers’ priorities

The more you understand the priorities of your customers, the better you will do in business. “The brands that are going to be most successful in the future will fundamentally understand exactly how their customers want to purchase,” Harley says. According to Harley, you should know where your customer buys things. Whether that is YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, he advises entrepreneurs to focus on their customers’ places of shopping and try to sell their products there. He further added that “if you’re overly caught up in one particular channel and that channel disintegrates or goes out of fashion, you’re going to scramble.”

Be more resilient

Finkelstein believes that resiliency is not an innate behavior but rather a learned phenomenon. To quote him, “Most people believe resilience is this thing you either have or you don’t, and actually, that’s not the case.” “Resiliency is learned.” He believes that in the current economic situation, resilience is the only thing that entrepreneurs should have. Harley divides the population into two groups. “Some people ran for the sand and grabbed their towels, and others ran for their surfboards and surfed.” “And the ones who surfed?” “They’re resilient as fuck.”

In the world of entrepreneurship, Harley’s counsel to founders to accept uncertainty and develop resilience is essential. Starting a company is never simple, and there will inevitably be obstacles and failures along the way. Entrepreneurs must, however, see these difficulties as chances for development and education. Entrepreneurs can develop the abilities and mentality required to surmount challenges in the future by persevering through difficult times and cultivating resilience. They may also develop more self-assurance and tenacity, which may keep them inspired and committed to their objectives.


Entrepreneurs attempting to survive the difficult times caused by the pandemic and global economic instability. They can learn a lot from Harley Finkelstein’s perspectives on uncertainty. According to Finkelstein, uncertainty should be viewed as a chance rather than a threat. And business owners should concentrate on being intentional, establishing a strong customer base, thinking creatively, comprehending their clients’ priorities, and strengthening their resilience. Entrepreneurs can improve their chances of success and thrive in an unstable business climate by adhering to these principles. Finkelstein’s counsel can be a ray of hope for those who are determined to make the best of these uncertain times as the world continues to confront numerous challenges.

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