The science of strength

Would you say you’re a resilient person, someone who can weather the tough times? Take the test to find out how you compare to other Australian small business owners.


Anne-Maree Brown

Henry Ford went broke five times and failed multiple businesses before he founded Ford Motors and became one of the wealthiest men in history. KFC’s Colonel Sanders had his famous secret recipe rejected 1009 times before a restaurant accepted it, and Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he ‘lacked imagination and good ideas’.

What do these stories tell us about the common thread between those who fail but still forge ahead towards success? Is resilience the underlying factor? In simple terms, resilience is the power or ability to be stretched, bent, compressed and burdened, and find the ability to recover, or even discover, an inner strength and buoyancy greater than before.

But can resilience be quantified and measured?

The scale uncovered 

In September 2008, a team from the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico set out to research the theory that resilience can be tested and measured through their paper ‘The Brief Resilience Scale: Assessing the ability to bounce back’.

So, how would Australian businesses stack up on the resilience scale?

That is the question accounting software firm Reckon wanted answers to earlier this year. It commissioned Lonergan Research to review resilience in Australian businesses. The study surveyed 514 small business leaders and 505 Australian adults in capital cities and regional areas between March and April 2020. 




Phillip Spackman, Pyree Civil
Tony Bundock, Genesis Horticultural Solutions

How resilient are you?

Reckon CEO, Sam Allert, says that the findings were timely given the recent challenges experienced by small business across Australia. ‘Being a tradie and running your own small business can be extremely rewarding, but success can come with a bumpy road,’ he says. ‘Things have been tough, and it is even tougher under the current conditions, with Australia enduring drought, bushfires, a pandemic, and a global economic slump. It has never been more important to talk about resilience and what it means for tradies.’ 

Referring to the report’s findings on how Australian small businesses build resilience, Sam emphasises that resilience can be developed. ‘Anyone who has ever faced a challenge and come out stronger will know exactly why the experts say resilience can be developed. Resilience is a skill and – like any skill – it can be learned and improved,’ he adds.

Phillip Spackman, owner of Pyree Civil, a Sydney-based trades business, understands the importance of managing setbacks. He had nearly seven months’ worth of work lined up, but when the bushfires hit in late 2019, it all just disappeared. 

‘Earlier this year, we started to come out of it and get more and more jobs,’ Philip reveals. ‘In February and March, we were flat out again, and then in April the COVID-19 restrictions came into force.’ But within the tough times it was his resilience that made all the difference.

‘My dream has always been to run the family business,’ Philip says. ‘It’s been a lot to deal with but, for me, resilience is about sticking it out no matter what happens. It’s never letting go and not giving up on your dream.’

Tony Bundock, founding owner of Genesis Horticultural Solutions, would agree that COVID-19 tested his strength in opportunity. 

‘The lockdown was really the start of everything grinding to a halt. But before the lockdown, I signed up to a popular videoconferencing software which is a really good platform for training. I’d been meaning to put the basic training I perform on the internet. Suddenly, this was the golden opportunity for us.’




The bounce back 

Resilience is inherent to a successful small business leader – it is what keeps them moving, even when the finish line is not yet in sight. It is what helps them dig deep, put in the hours, and take on risk and uncertainty. It is what makes a small business tick. With resilience second nature to them, Australian small business owners and managers tend to weather the difficult times better than the average person.

Resilience directly corresponds with success for Australian small business leaders. Those who are highly resilient do better personally and professionally compared to those with low resilience.

To learn how resilient you are, head to the Reckon Resilience Hub for the one-minute interactive Brief Resilience Scale test, which will reveal how your levels of resilience compare against other Australian small business leaders. 


The results are in

  • The Reckon Resilience Report shows a link between resilience and success for Australian small business.
  • More than three in five (62 per cent) tradies who run their own small business say they lost out on revenue in FY18/19 because of poor resilience, with $26,362 being the average amount forfeited.
  • Nine in ten (87per cent) trade small businesses are feeling added pressure due to COVID-19, compared to the small business sector average of 78 per cent.
  • Tradies are less likely (57 per cent) than the average small business owner (72 per cent) to consider themselves resilient, despite scoring as highly for resilience as other Australian small business leaders.

For all of the results from the Reckon Resilience study you can download the full report at:


Resilience takeaway tips

Reaching out for support when needed also rated highly as a way to maintain resilience. Day to day, Australian small business leaders are most likely to stay resilient by:

  • 78 per cent prioritising self-care
  • 58 per cent using tools and resources to stay organised and in control
  • 57 per cent spending time with family and friends
  • 46 per cent asking for help
  • 39 per cent celebrating achievements
  • 37 per cent practicing mindfulness exercises.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Use technology to your advantage: Highly resilient small business leaders are much more likely (90 per cent) than their counterparts (70 per cent) to think advances in technology make running a business easier. They are also more likely (47 per cent) than average (38 per cent) to work with an easy to use accounting software to reach their business goals.
  • Ask the experts: Highly successful small business leaders are more likely (20 per cent) than average (16 per cent) to rely on business and financial experts to get through times of hardship.
  • Tap into official resources: 76 per cent of small business leaders agree that government financial stimulus packages do a lot to help small businesses stay resilient, while 15 per cent of small business leaders say they have relied on government policy or stimulus packages to get through hard times.
  • Have a contingency plan: Highly resilient small business leaders are much more likely (79 per cent) to have contingency plans in place than their counterparts (51 per cent).

The Road to Resilience with Phillip Spackman, Pyree Civil Contracting

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