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CEOs Share Some Things They Learned in 2019 Entrepreneur Asia Pacific spoke to 10 CEOs to understand some important lessons they learned in 2019

By Aparajita Saxena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


The end of the year is always a nice time to reflect on what your journey has been like over the last 365-odd days, to remember what you've learned and how you've grown. Being self-critical is necessary to grow and evolve, but so is self-congratulation - celebrating your achievements, whatever they may be.

Entrepreneur Asia Pacific spoke to 10 CEOs to understand some important lessons they learned in 2019:

1. "One of the major learnings I've taken from 2019 is that different sizes of healthcare businesses require different types of healthcare solutions. Being able to identify this and respond accordingly is something I'll be looking to perfect next year," says Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO of Coviu, a healthcare software solutions service.

2. "In terms of key learnings, as a US company listing in Australia, we had many this year! One thing we learnt early on though was that we needed local advisors with ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) experience to guide us. This made a huge difference to the whole process," says Charlie Youakim, co-founder and CEO of Sezzle, a fintech company.

3. "One of our major learnings from this year is how important it is to keep focused on the vision and what you're trying to achieve. When running a business, it can be really easy to get caught up in executing daily activities and lose sight of what you need to do to get to the next level. I've learnt how critical it is to always keep the bigger picture in mind and how necessary it is to listen and adapt to the market. From a broad business observation, a lot of companies across many different industries have faced scrutiny in 2019 with regulators. It pays to always have good stewardship in regards to all aspects of a business operation and never something to neglect," says Rudy Crous, CEO and co-founder of Shortlyster, a hiring optimization platform.

4. "A major learning for me this year is how important it is to give back and share knowledge with others. This is a learning I'll be taking into the new year, with plans to be more involved in the startup community through hosting masterclasses and mentoring young entrepreneurs.," says Grace Wong, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Liven, a blockchain startup.

5. "I think the biggest lessons for 2019 has been to always make sure you're listening to your customer and behaving in an ethical way," says Dipra Ray, CEO of mPort.

6. "The lessons from 2019... I'm sure you hear this all the time: hire the right people, have clear objectives and build a work culture that excites your staff. And guess what? That advice is as sound as houses. However executing on it isn't always easy. But that's what you have to keep striving for," Adrian Przelozny, CEO and founder of Independent Reserve, a cryptocurrency company, says.

7. "A highlight for us this year was listing our company on the Australian Stock Exchange. It was also where we learnt the most. In particular, the importance of keeping investors up to date on every company milestone. In this, we've found there isn't much difference between running a private and a listed company," says Max Bluvband, founder and CEO AppsVillage, a mobile app development company.

8. "For me the biggest lesson was to always keep your finger on the pulse of everything, from staff morale, customers, and where the market is moving," says Yanir Yakutiel, CEO of Lumi, a small business funding company.

9. "A key learning for me in 2019 has been to re-set and take stock when faced with challenges. It is very easy to get too emotionally invested and develop tunnel vision when you are working towards a set goal. You don't always see it at the time but this way of working is not productive or conducive to achieving positive outcomes.

When you feel like you're battling against the tide, which is the best thing to be doing as this is where innovation is born, it is important to sometimes step back to reassess and trust yourself. In my instance, I run a company that seeks to change the way sustainability is managed and integrated with technology, this is something that isn't going to be achieved overnight but I have to remind myself to be patient, trust what I am doing, believe in science, engineering, technology and innovation, and not lose sight of the goal," says Haggai Alon, founder & CEO of Security Matters.

10. "My biggest learning in 2019 was the realisation that transformation is not a project. It is an ongoing journey - a constant cycle of growth, conservation, release, reorganisation (or regeneration). Adaptability and action has never been more important than in this time of exponential disruption, where technology is in a race against time, not just for business productivity, but, more importantly, for sustainable business productivity that both nurtures people and our environment," says Karl Redenbach, CEO and co-founder of LiveTiles.

Aparajita Saxena

Former Deputy Associate Editor, Asia Pacific

Aparajita is Former Deputy Associate Editor for Entrepreneur Asia Pacific. She joined Entrepreneur after nearly five years with Reuters, where she chased the Asian and U.S. finance markets.

At Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, she wrote about trends in the Asia Pacific startup ecosystem. She also loves to look for problems startups face in their day-to-day and tries to present ways to deal with those issues via her stories, with inputs from other startups that may have once been in that boat.

Outside of work, she likes spending her time reading books (fiction/non-fiction/back of a shampoo bottle), chasing her two dogs around the house, exploring new wines, solo-travelling, laughing at memes, and losing online multiplayer battle royale games.



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