06/09/2015 05:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

4 Things a Startup Can Learn From a Fresh, Outside Perspective


As it is common in our entrepreneurial circle, in Tunisia to, informally share insights among community members, we at Chifco thought: why not make this knowledge-sharing more formal and democratize it in the shape of this article? As a startup that is launching its flagship product soon, our management has spent a lot of time on execution, rather than on strategy and organization. This might sound familiar to a lot of entrepreneurs: we spend most of our time putting out fires, which does not allow us the time to sit back often and look at what we are doing from different angles. As a result, we had a skewed perspective of our mission and our core business. Sound familiar?

With the help of our partner, Microsoft, we were blessed to have a very pertinent outside perspective to guide us back onto the right track. This perspective, which came in the shape of a volunteer consultant from Canada, helped us stop what we were doing for a second and reminded us of things we barely knew that we had forgotten. We took a second look at ourselves, only to realize that we had the right answers from the beginning. We were merely asking the wrong questions. We knew what our mission and our core business were. We just weren't necessarily implementing that in our executive endeavors. So, we did. We realigned our strategy, marketing efforts, and human capital with our mission, all the while realizing that we cannot turn a blind eye to our engagements to the community. In other words, here are four things a startup can learn from a fresh, outside perspective that we would like to share with all the startups today.

Stick to you mission in anything you do, while staying relevant

From a strategy standpoint, we've learned that a startup has to stick to its mission, while being somewhat flexible and updating it frequently to stay relevant. This also means that, while it is sometimes hard, a startup should not give way to economic pressures and let them steer it away from its mission. Therefore, it is necessary to step back once in a while and look at where you stand. From experience, an outside perspective is extremely helpful in correcting your trajectory to always align yourself with your mission and your core business.

People will buy when they get emotionally attached to your product

From a marketing standpoint, we learned that we should have a scenario and user experience-based approach in developing, maturing, and marketing our products. There is an important caveat here, however, you have to learn to time your communication to happen only when your products are up to your partners', and your customers' expectations but most importantly to your own standards and brand.

Never procrastinate on a people decision

From a human capital point of view, we learned to never procrastinate on a people decision, meaning that your human capital's development cannot wait until you succeed in going to market, or you reach your sales objectives. Your startup's development goes hand in hand with your human capital development. We learned, as you should, that we must have a sustaining and evolving culture, based on, and for people. This is a necessary step to develop a sense of ownership among any team, thus enabling them and their management for success.

Be the change you want to see in your own community, first, and then the world

From a social responsibility standpoint, we learned that it is necessary to embrace a cause that ties into Tunisia's own transformation as a country. Besides being part of the economic makeover of a young, post-revolution democracy (a plus in itself), this helps you not lose sight of your roots and tie them into where you want to go, be it only local, or eventually global as well.

And a personal lesson we took away from this as a bonus

From a strictly personal standpoint, we have learned that we should manage our time in a way that allows for personal development, as well. This would help anyone not to be swallowed whole by the, sometimes insane rhythm that imposes itself, when you give your heart and soul to a startup.