ISIS' Secret Formula for Growing Your Struggling Startup

Startup businesses face many obstacles in their quest for sustainable success and stability some of which include lack of market awareness, competition, limited capital, and labor issues among others. It is, therefore, crucial that every struggling startup adopts appropriate strategies that will help it succeed and achieve both its short term and long term objectives in an effective and efficient manner. Among the exemplary organizations that have used quality strategies to attain success is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a controversial radical Islamic group that is widely considered a terrorist organization. The group has seen a lot of success in recent time due to effective strategies employed by its leadership (Fernandez, 2015). This essay looks to discuss the strategies used by ISIS that can be used by struggling startups to achieve growth.

    The first and most important strategy for a struggling startup is setting up appropriate core values and communicating them to all relevant stakeholders. ISIS’s believes in Islamic self-rule and the fight for a caliphate system through a jihadist movement (Hafiz, 2014). These core values have helped popularize the organization across the entire world allowing it to recruit foreign nationals and also to attain financing from sympathizers and those that believe in groups course. Having core beliefs and objectives allows for the unification of the relevant stakeholders towards a single direction. Like ISIS, startup whose beliefs, mission, vision, and objectives are popular in the market, and its operating environment will attain the desired reputation, attract an appropriate workforce, market share and have access to capital.

      Another tactic employed by ISIS that can aid a struggling startup is having quality and efficient management and leadership. According to Hubbard and Schmitt of the New York Times (2014), ISIS has one of the best leadership structures and personnel that is far much superior to other terrorist organizations. The quality management oversees strategic departments such as finance, administration, legal issues, social media activity, military operations, and recruitment. Hiring quality personnel to lead a struggling startup will allow it to achieve the much-desired success and competitive advantage through effective planning, strategical decision making and implementation of appropriate actions.  Management functions such as planning, organizing, controlling, directing and staffing are better achieved by experienced managers which a startup business should struggle to acquire.

      Other key tactics used by ISIS that are applicable to startup organization include target market identification, aggressive promotion and effective communication across the relevant stakeholders. ISIS primarily targets the Islamic population and relies heavily on social media to communicate its agendas to all stakeholders. According to Blaker (2015), the organization uses the internet and social media to seek support, encourage its members, recruit new members and to spread propaganda. Blaker cites Hillary Leverette, a former worker of the US National Security Council, who claims that over 90,000 pro-ISIS messages are posted across various social media platforms daily. Startup business can also use social media, especially when targeting the younger population in the market, as an effective marketing tool. Aggressive marketing will result in increased market share, competitive advantage, and increased sales.

      In conclusion, ISIS employs various strategies and tactics to achieve its objectives. The continued prosperity of the organization provides an excellent reference point for struggling startups with regards to effective strategies and status in the quest for sustainable success. Among the key strategies used by ISIS that are relevant to struggling startups are identifying and communicating core values of the organization, employing quality and effective leadership, creating a target market, aggressive promotion and excellent communication across relevant stakeholders.  As discussed herein, these tactics have helped ISIS’s growth and can be used by startups to achieved its objectives.


Blaker, L. (2015). The Islamic State’s Use of Online Social Media. Military Cyber Affairs, 1(1), 1-9.
Fernandez, A. (2015). Here to stay and growing: Combating ISIS propaganda networks. Washington, DC: Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Retrieved from
Hafiz, Y. (2014). What Is a Caliphate? The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2017, from
Hubbard, B. & Schmitt, E. (2014). Military Skill and Terrorist Technique Fuel Success of ISIS. Retrieved 19 January 2017, from