Starting a new business within the continent of Africa can be as terrifying as it is exciting. At any given time, a fledgling company can come up against a number of common challenges.
From hiring the right people to defining your brand… start-ups must overcome these obstacles to ensure success. This is according to Dan Karua, Managing Director, Lamudi, Kenya.
One of the biggest challenges that all start-ups will face is competition, particularly in markets dominated by well-known, established brands. The key is to find a niche market, not yet saturated by other companies with the same product. As there will almost always be another brand offering a similar product, think outside the box; ensure you establish a clear target audience and a specific brand message to differentiate your start-up.
Hiring employees to support your venture can be a nerve-wracking experience, but is one of the most important investments for any start-up. To find the right talent whilst sticking to a budget is a challenge for any company, in particular for unknown brands. Building a strong team to nurture and develop a young company is key to success; as you are putting your time, money and trust in your team, it is worth the investment.
Keeping up with change
With advances in technology and the shift online, information is constantly changing. Not only keeping up but staying ahead of the competition is a significant challenge for young companies. Furthermore, with plans to roll a start-up out into multiple markets, each country needs to be approached with an individual strategy based on market conditions.
According to Karua, Managing Director Lamudi Kenya, which began operations in October 2013: “It is difficult to generalize across markets because no two countries are exactly the same, even though there are some similarities.”
A key challenge in some markets, such as Myanmar for example where the Internet penetration is among the lowest in the world, is convincing consumers of the value of the Internet and e-commerce – the value in shifting online. In other more mature markets, which are already heavily digitised, there is stiff competition for start-ups from well-established competitors.”
Making sure that your product keeps up with changes in the market is vital. For Internet-based start-ups, this often means adapting the website. Is your website mobile-friendly? Does it have an attractive, easy-to-manage user interface? With so many websites, it is difficult to make yours stand out in the crowd – however, a secure, reliable and well-performing website can often speak for itself.