Sheltowee Business Network Blog

Six Steps That Startup Leaders Can Take for Success in 2020

Six Steps That Startup Leaders Can Take for Success in 2020

Dec 20 2019

Six Steps That Startup Leaders Can Take for Success in 2020

By Dawn Yankeelov

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

Given that your startup investment continues to be worth your time, take a moment to put yourself on my guidance through this “Six-Step Program,” as an exercise in forward motion for the New Year.

1.        Get out there and meet new people.  It’s holiday time, so how many parties or engagements have you accepted?  If the answer is very few because you are “working on the business,” think again.  Investments in your startup can come from casual handshakes and good sip of beer at holiday events, because people are generally more relaxed and open to new ideas, suggestions, as well as may have more time to be supportive.  This is proven from my past Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky holiday gatherings where investments have been reported as from “that networking holiday party you hosted.”

2.       Do your homework by joining a trade association—local, regional or national. If you have no sales targets, then look to area trade associations and their websites for suggestions on people and places to go. There are still plenty of websites that list their members in a searchable database.  Need to join?  Well, go ahead.  Costs are generally worth participation in access to a membership list.  Join the Sheltowee Business Network in Louisville or Lexington, KY at, for example. Review levels of memberships to get the most value out of your selections. 

3.       Create short meetings with your core team on a schedule pre-set for Q1 with agendas, and each quarter thereafter.  Your startup team is your source of the most critical knowledge for your business.  If you don’t have regular dialogue based on pre-set agendas with the core team, how can you expect to achieve results?  There are online tools to assist, but live meetings are still cited as being the best way to interact.  At least one live meeting a month following a pre-set agenda is the first quarter can make the difference in team cohesion and advancement of goals through knowledge-sharing or a breakdown in communication.  Short communication times can work.  I contend that a planning meeting that goes two hours or more is a meeting with limited productivity for a core team.  Parkinson’s law dictates that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” (Articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of the first sentence of an essay published in The Economist in 1955.)

4.       Select a business-type book for holiday and January 2020 reading to stimulate new thinking, then share selected insights in core team meetings.  We are here on the planet to guide each other, so use the resources available, online at sites like, and even browse at the local bookstore while holiday shopping for specific titles to download -- or just purchase for offline time on flights.  What’s on your reading list?  Bedtime reading allows for wind-down time from the ever-pressing tasks, but also gives insight or support on new ways to tackle persistent issues.  Take time to read. Interesting statistic:  Reading before you sleep could relax you significantly, according to studies over the years. A 2009 study highlighted in the Telegraph by the University of Sussex raised a number of participants stress levels and then attempted to reduce them. Cognitive Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis found that ‘reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent’. It was better than listening to music (61%), drinking tea or coffee (54%) and taking a walk (42%). It only took 6 minutes for participants’ stress levels to be reduced. Ask for a reading suggestion from a trusted mentor or business friend. 

Do you want to make regular business reading a part of your company tech solutions?  Take a look at the top 10 best tablets for reading--

5.       Balancing work against other life commitments through personal planning assists in avoiding burnout and anger.  Use the simple approach each month of setting short goals for yourself saved on your mobile device or on your nightstand where you can review and see it.  Put down one sentence in each of these categories:  home; career; learning; health; connections; and values.  This is for you. Attend the next “Understanding Yourself” Half-Day Workshop by SBN Founder Alex Day in January of the Sheltowee Business Network to dive into this on Saturday, Jan. 11 in Louisville live or through remote dial in. Free for SBN Members.  Join for just under $25 a month as an Explorer via credit card, or pay per workshop on Eventbrite. Bring your laptop, take notes, and do the planning in real time.  Take the time, and you will find you can achieve some measure of fulfillment along the way to profitability.  Note:  Again, if you’re the leader that is delaying that little surgery scheduling because it isn’t convenient, it’s time to do it.  It’s a new year—create new healthy habits.  Simply stated:  You have to be on the planet to personally enjoy the fruits of your labor.

6.       Be coachable inside your meetings, and dealings with potential customers, partners, and business advisors, paid or unpaid.  We all know there is more than one way to do something, so be open to other people’s suggestions, thoughts, or point of view.  You may not agree that all the steps suggested are warranted, but you may find some “gold” to assist the business model, from the effort of truly listening.  Why pay someone as a consultant to only tell them, “you don’t know what you are talking about.”  You put them on the transition team for a reason—pay attention to their expertise.  Note the common Latin Proverb--“He who can’t be advised, cannot be helped.” And, if a seasoned professional has done their assigned work, be sure to use it.  We all get bogged down in process management because of time constraints.  If you paid for the marketing content or graphic, then put it up on the blog, use it in that next eblast, or send it out to the media.  Waiting for the “perfect time” to do the next step is often a recipe for throwing a lot of good work into the trash bin as “no longer timely” later. Most important business steps are actionable in the next 90 days or you are not moving the business forward.