How to launch your startup in Cameroon
There are just so many Cameroonians with great startup ideas who want to, and try to, but just can’t get their business off the ground. I know how difficult it can be moving from point A to point B as an entrepreneur. Some will say it’s even more complicated doing so as a Cameroonian.
Point A is the brilliant idea and B is that subsequent, hoped-for state where the business is secure, established and making money. Sad enough many young Cameroonian entrepreneurs are trapped in A.
Here are 10 tips that will help you launch your startup faster.
1. Just start.
In my experience, it’s more important to start than to start right. Think about it. If you don’t start your business, nothing will happen. Whatever it is that’s keeping you from launching is the very thing you either need to ignore or tackle head-on. So . . .
- Write down your business idea.
- Make plans to get a website for your startup.
- Sketch the product or service you intend to offer.
- Design the prototype.
There is nothing standing in the way of your starting your business except yourself. Do the first thing that needs to be done.
I see many people stuck by trying to do all the unnecessary things like not starting because you are trying to register the company first which can be a stumbling block in Cameroon.
2. Sell anything.
There are some Cameroonian entrepreneurs who know exactly what they want to sell. There are other entrepreneurs who have no idea what they’re going to sell. They just want to sell something. Here’s my advice: Sell anything.
Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs aren’t selling anything new. They are selling it different or better:
- Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) sold the same thing that you could find at any five-and-dime or corner convenience store.
- Ted Turner simply sold television broadcasting and advertising.
- Howard Schultz sold coffee.
- Warren Buffett bought and sold other people’s stock.
Entrepreneurs aren’t always innovators. You can take someone else’s product and sell it. When I started Money Master Tutorials in 2015, I tried writing and selling eBooks. It wasn’t really bringing me money. Maybe a little but not the kind of money I wanted. Then I launched the Online Entrepreneurship Training in Douala. I lacked a lot of stuff like a training centre. I rented that of bigger institutions in town and soon my training and mentorship programs took off in grand style.
3. Ask someone for advice, then ask him/her to do it.
When you start a business, you will most definitely not have all the answers. For example, you’ll need to get incorporated, but how? S-Corp, C-Corp or LLC?
To get these answers, ask a competent attorney. The attorney will provide advice — say it’s to start an S-Corp. But, then what? Ask the attorney to do it for you. Instantly, you will have gained an expert who is implementing his/her own advice for your money. Payment? You can reward the attorney with stocks or deferred payment.
When an issue arises, and you don’t have the answer, find someone who does. Then, when this expert gives you advice — whether business best practice, manufacturing locations, logo design, accounting, whatever — ask that person to do it.
Your business needs more help, knowledge and professional skills than you have time for. Get people to work for you.
4. Hire remote workers.
If you want to find the best and most affordable talent, you may not find it next door. Be willing to hire remote workers to get great work done. Launching YES-Africa wasn’t easy but once I understood how an LLC operates, it was easy to put together a group of remote workers that helped in kick-starting the company. But the whole thing started like a one-man operation and the weight was all on my shoulders.
5. Hire contract workers.
Becoming an employer carries with it a lot of baggage. It may, in fact, form such a barrier that it slows down the process of your startup. Besides, few people will be willing to take the plunge to become the employee of a tenuous startup, especially in Cameroon.
Instead of hiring employees, hire on a contract basis. The point is, you need to find a way to get the talent to provide their services. Don’t let the specific arrangement get in the way of getting stuff done.
Though I started YES-Africa like a one-man operation, I suddenly had so any web design, SEO and marketing clients I couldn’t handle. I had a great reputation online and many companies gave me their online marketing to handle. So, I needed more workers. I started outsourcing to my colleagues who were also web designers, SEO experts or social media marketers. With time, I trained and built my own team.
6. Find a co-founder.
They say if you want to go faster, go alone and if you want to go far, go with people. There’s always such a burden that comes with launching your startup in Cameroon that you often need the right motivation and support to move pass the obstacles. A co-founder brings in that energy, motivation, inspiration, and strength that you need to keep gong forward.
Co-founders can provide the skills you lack , and take you further than you ever expected you’d go.
7. Work with someone who pushes you to the extreme.
One of the reasons why Steve Jobs was able to grow Apple into one of the world’s most innovative and valuable brands was because he pushed people. Here’s how he described his management approach.
My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects. And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.
Sure, Jobs could be aggressive and unkind, but he could also draw out from people better than they thought their best could ever be. You can find the same qualities in a cofounder, a partner, a friend, a mentor or an employee. More importantly, you can provide the same level of expectation for your own team members. As Jobs said, “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.”
8. Don’t focus on money.
Creative Bloq has this gem of advice regarding startups: “Don’t necessarily worry about where an income will come from. A good product/service will always find a way to make money.”
This is true. A myopic focus on money can pull your business off track. Whether it’s funding, capital, business loans or the perfect pricing model, back off and let things evolve. Growth doesn’t equal funding. Growth means hacking, straining, selling and doing things other than asking for money.
9. Spend time and money on marketing.
Marketing is one of the best things that you can do for your business. When you market your product or service, you are getting it in front of the people who will actually buy it. Marketing is not a waste of time. It’s one of the best early investments that you can make in your business.
10. Talk to your potential customers.
A startup does not exist in the entrepreneur’s mind alone. A startup exists in the landscape of customers and potential customers.
If there will be people buying or using your product, you need to learn all you can about these people, from these people and for these people. Your business will live or die based on their receptivity to the product or service.
The sooner you learn about your customers, the faster you’ll be able to pivot and serve them better.
Starting fast doesn’t mean that you should force scaling. Scaling is something that happens carefully, in a measured cadence.
Starting fast means that you leverage all possible resources to focus on one thing — getting started. Getting started is the main thing. Once your business is up and running, anything else is possible.
A startup is a race. The faster you are, the more likely you are to win big.
What is stopping you from launching your startup in Cameroon?