“80% of new companies created in Cameroon disappear within two years…” ~ Lucien Ntamag Mahop
According to an article that appeared on the business platform “Investir Au Cameroun” on Monday November 16th, Lucien Ntamag Mahop the director of “Entreprises du Cameroun” [a not for profit organisation dedicated to defending the interests of small and medium sized enterprises in Cameroon] stated that 80% of new businesses created in Cameroon folded in just 2 years!
Alarmed by this high % of businesses not making it, we were inspired to share our views on the topic. We share with you our reasons why we believe most businesses fold as well as give some tips on how business owners could keep it together especially on the promotion / marketing side.
Doing business in Cameroon is not as easy as it may seem and the majority of business owners; whether small, medium size or large would testify about how hard the terrain just is – and this may well be true too to doing business in general in other countries.
In Cameroon, venturing into a well known business area is just as tricky as introducing an unknown concept into the market. You need to be savvy, adaptable and a great communicator.
Why do businesses fail? Here are our 3 reasons:
- Follow Friends: there are people who go into business just because their friends are doing it or a member of their family is doing it so they generally believe that they too can do it. They do not spend any time researching their business area/market to know what is lacking so they could use that as their USP, neither do they know who their target market is, what the current market trends, location trends, buying trends/spending habits are. These people also tend to use their family and friends as their market base which is not sustainable in the long run.
- Lack of ideas / creativity: starting a business is one thing, keeping it going is another and we assure you that is one of the hardest parts of doing business in Cameroon as the Cameroon buying market is not as easy to crack! They like what they like when they like and from where they like and you have to literally become an ideas machine to keep them coming through the door.
- Finance: starting a business without any financial back up is a big no no! The truth is you may not see any real profit from the business for up to 5 years! Yes it could take that long and therefore you must be prepared to be able to sustain the business financially while you grow it. Most new businesses fail because the owners also fail to prepare themselves financially and forecast adequately.
What to do? Here are our 3 tips:
- Research: take time to discover the business area in which you would like to venture into so you have some understanding about what to expect or not expect. Go out and talk to business owners already operating in your business domain; we do not believe they would divulge their business secrets so speak to them on a general basis! Also talk to as many people on the streets as you can in different areas to equip yourself. Write your business plan and do not forget your SWOT analysis!
- Target: decide well before you engage in your business domain, who your target customers would be. Take the time to build a visual portrait in your mind and in your head so you know exactly who to market to and where and how.
- Market: here is where having a creative mind will come in handy. Use all the resources available to you to market your business as well as constantly develop ideas/concepts which will get your business infront of your target customers. If you cannot be creative, partner with a creative person or just Google!
If you want to do business in Cameroon, be prepared to put in the hardwork. You have to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in day in, day out because even when the business becomes successful, it still requires to be maintained or taken to the next level…goodluck!
Image credit: RealisticShots | WardRobe, SONEL Bonamoussadi