Startup Success In 2017

Startup Success In 2017

We’ve all been there: Confetti strewed about the room, empty champagne flutes lining the counters; 12:01 a.m. on the first day of a new year.

If you’re like me, you’ve looked around at the wreckage and thought “Now what?” In the first minute of a new year, the possibilities might seem endless, but so too do the risks and potential failures. Much as we would like to believe that nothing can go wrong, in the first minute of a new year, we seem to see all too clearly the hazards lying in our paths.

This is particularly true for those of us in the startup game. When every day is greeted with this same peculiar mixture of hope, promise, and fear. We, the brave few, embark on new and exciting possibilities each day, and yet we know, better than most, the sense of nervous anticipation that clings to our every action. We know, more than others, how much impact one decision can have on our entire business model. We know, more than others, the consequences of our choices. So how is it that we move forward, onto bigger and better possibilities in 2017? How, then, can we make this year a success from the start? The answer is both simple and exceedingly complex.

What we need, whether we are first time entrepreneurs or long-time innovators, is a compelling vision for our lives, our companies, and our success. Ask any serial entrepreneur and they will tell you that, though their efforts may shift from industry to industry, and their companies may touch different facets of the business world, there is always one, overarching something that drives them. For the startup warrior, there is only one great victory to be achieved, no matter how many small battles there are in each day.

Developing (for it is a process, not an instantaneous event) this compelling vision, for yourself as a person, and for your business, is the single most important thing you can do to ensure success in 2017. Your personal vision and your professional vision must be in sync in order for you to succeed. Moreover, those who want to dive into the world of startups and entrepreneurship that lack this overarching, compelling narrative of their life and work, are doomed to failure. Crafting and creating your own personal statement about your life and work is the first, and most important, step on the path to success.

There may be those who will say “OK, but I have already achieved my goals as a startup founder, and I have done it without needing something so formal and archaic as a written statement of my personal vision.” To those who feel this way, let me ask you this: How long do you plan to stay in business? How long do you intend for your startup to be a successful company? We can all point to examples of companies, even major corporations, that have lost their way, and betrayed their first principles, causing them to lose customers and possibly even to cease to exist. In virtually every case, these companies suffered either from a lack of visionary leadership or a seismic shift in mission for which they were unable to adapt. Thus, we see it is vital to clearly articulate, even write down, a statement of your personal and professional vision to imprint it into the fabric of your company. A startup business model that features this at the forefront of everything will inevitably be more successful, and also (and this is critical for us in the entrepreneurial world) more readily adaptable to changing circumstances. Laying a concrete foundation for yourself as an entrepreneur, and for your startup business, increases your flexibility and adaptability to the changes of the market!

In conclusion, then, let’s remember how we got here: We wanted to change the world in some way. We do what we do because we are who we are. Our personal vision for our lives becomes inescapably mixed with our professional vision for our businesses. As we step out into the start of 2017, let’s do so with a greater sense of both who we are as individuals, and what we want to achieve as companies. Our success will only extend as far as our visionary mindset, so I encourage you to take today, at the start of what could be your best year yet, to focus and hone your vision for the coming year. What does 2017 hold for you? I say it holds whatever you can envision!


Jonathan Ely is a leadership consultant and teacher with years of experience in organisational dynamics, personal leadership, and team building. His Adaptive Leadership classes are available on and he regularly blogs at