Asmae Lemniei: Strategy Alone Is Not Enough to Ensure Success
Asmae is passionate about supporting the region's start up infrastructure and entrepreneurs. She is the founder and managing director of Lean X Consulting, a strategy consulting startup based in the UAE, supporting startups across-geographies to define and execute on their business strategy. I caught up with her to get the low down of the common mindset or grit that entrepreneurs need, and how we can develop our start - up strategy.
Thanks so much for allowing us to interview you, Asmae! We love how passionate you are for helping entrepreneurs and start-ups, tell us about your background.
Thank you so much for having me and congratulations on what you do. I have been following your journey at Deals in High Heels since the beginning and I am impressed by how much you have accomplished so far and in such a short amount of time.
From my side, helping entrepreneurs in defining and executing on their strategy to make their dreams happen, is more than a passion to me, it is something that is so dear to my heart as nothing makes me happier than seeing others succeeding in their entrepreneurial journey. It is a purpose and this is what drives me.
Regarding my background, I have graduated in international business from Télécom Ecole de Management in France after pre-graduate studies in mathematics. I have worked for 10 years in consulting and banking firms in France, Morocco and the UAE, and set up two startups in between in Dubai. Today, I am the managing director of Lean X Consulting, a new strategy consulting startup focusing on helping entrepreneurs to define their business strategy and execute on it.
What is a common mindset or characteristics that you see in entrepreneurs?
I have since the start been fascinated by innovative entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, who have the grit and ambition to challenge the status quo. In my view, the most common traits I have observed are their growth mindset, nimbleness and resourcefulness.
What are the implications and cost of not having a clear start-up strategy?
I think strategy alone is not enough to ensure success, as in my view execution trumps both talent and strategy. While it is paramount for entrepreneurs to work on their strategy, it is how well they act on it and execute on it that makes the difference. Thus strategy and execution need to go hand in hand.
We have seen a tremendous amount of bright ideas perish either because of a lack of strategy or because of a poor execution.
‘Digital disruption’ is a much talked about the topic currently here in the region. What should start-ups be doing in their marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is part of the overall business strategy of a given startup or business. Also, to be effective, it needs to be Omni-channel, aligned with the excepted outcomes and monitored on an on-going basis. Thus, setting up mission-critical KPIs to measure the above and their related impact on the bottom line is paramount.
Research suggests that around 90% of start-up fail – what to the ones that succeed do differently?
I guess, the main difference lies in the people behind the business, their growth mindsets, their grit and their ability to not only identify a real problem to solve but to execute on their strategy with nimbleness.
On top of that, successful startups are purpose-driven, value-centred and constantly reinventing themselves and innovating to keep up with our ever-changing world where the rules of the game are constantly evolving.
Deals in High Heels loves supporting female entrepreneurs – what are your thoughts on the female empowerment movement that we have seen the last few years?
It is indeed a fact that women still face more difficulty than men to access funding for example and that the gender bias is a reality in the entrepreneurship world. And so, results-oriented “female empowerment” initiatives (although I am not really comfortable using the term “empowerment’) are definitely of help. I emphasize on “results-oriented” initiatives as like for any challenge, focusing on the solutions rather than the problem itself is what makes the difference. For instance, it is refreshing to see the commitment of Ernst & Young to direct US$100 million of their global purchasing spend to women-owned businesses by 2020.
You often speak about the lean startup model. How do we do this and what are the benefits?
When it comes to building or scaling a startup, following a lean approach is one of the best ways to shorten the build-measure-learn feedback loop and decrease in the process the time-to-market. It’s about getting as much feedback as possible from the initial customers to refine the product or service. It is as well, an approach that emphasizes more on execution than in theory and enables the founders to validate quickly their assumptions. By doing so, the entrepreneurs can assess diligently when pivot or switchback strategies are needed and sometimes simply when to stop pushing for an idea that is condemned to fail. In a nutshell, it is an approach that helps startups to either succeed steadily and with impact or fail the cheapest and quickest way possible.
You’ve been in Dubai for 5 years, What changes have you seen in the business world?
I have witnessed in the last 5 years not only a substantial rise of startups and entrepreneurs but as well the incredible evolution of our regional entrepreneurship ecosystem. The number of incubators, accelerators, entrepreneurship programs and related events is growing at such a fast pace. Many new players have entered the market and witnessing that is exciting.
I believe that the future of entrepreneurship in the region is bright and that as an ecosystem, we have all that it takes to rise to the challenge of becoming a strong hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.
As an entrepreneur, I sometimes find it rather lonely! What was your biggest struggle transitioning from the corporate world into an entrepreneur, and what was the greatest piece of advice that was given to you?
Being an entrepreneur can seem cool and is now more than ever becoming trendy. Yet I truly believe that entrepreneurship is not for everyone and that it should definitely not be a choice by default or made for the wrong reasons.
It is not only requiring a lot of hard work, but it is requiring a strong and unshakeable ability to stay calm, focused and driven in the face of adversity, and market uncertainty.
I agree it can be a lonely journey to a certain extent, as entrepreneurs are constantly put in situations where they need to dig deep into themselves to find the answers or acknowledge what they don’t know. It is a very humbling experience, a journey of self-discovery where self-limitations and limiting beliefs have no place to exist. It is about mastering oneself, ones’ emotions including the common fear of failure and just doing the best one can do.
I guess one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received that took me a long time to understand is “It is not always about what you get from it but what you become out of it”. Entrepreneurship is an incredible journey, and when tied to a purpose bigger than ourselves, it becomes one of the most rewarding experience one can ever embark into.
BIO: Asmae Lemniei/ Co-Founder and Managing Director of Lean X Consulting.
Asmae Lemniei is the Co-founder and managing director of Lean X Consulting, a strategy consulting startup based in the UAE, supporting startups across-geographies to define and execute on their business strategy. Asmae believes that entrepreneurship is the most impactful way to enable social and economical transformation.