10 Steps to Start a Small Business in Cameroon

Brief: Do you plan to start a small business in Cameroon? It will be less challenging if you follow the steps I will be sharing with you below.

Cameroon is walking towards becoming an emergent economy by the year 2035. For this to happen, the government needs to put in place measures to encourage the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The private sector, especially SMEs need to be developed in other to add value to the economy. This brings about the creation of jobs which in turn improves the well-being of the population.For any economy to be strong, the government of that country needs to carry out policies that will encourage the creation of businesses. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of an economy.

Starting a business in Cameroon is very challenging. It is not an easy task given some of the difficulties you may encounter when doing business in Cameroon. However, if you decide to take the challenge, you will need to make sure that you follow the steps I will be sharing with you below. These 10 steps on how to successfully start a small business in Cameroon will be a great guide for any aspiring entrepreneur. It is a step-by-step procedure so you should take one at a time and at the end you be running a successful small business.

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1. Get a business idea

This is one of the biggest problems young would-be entrepreneurs face all over the world. Many people who want to start a small business in Cameroon find it difficult on how to come up with a business idea. As an entrepreneurial coach to students, I usually tell them you don’t actually need to think so hard in other to get a business idea. You just need to be open to the world and yourself and think out-of-the-box. If you are finding it difficult, these 5 effective ways to get a profitable business idea in Africa will be of great help to you.

If you eventually get a business idea, you will have to make sure it can

  • Solve a problem – Is there a problem that needs a solution and you think your solution is the best?

  • Fulfill a need – Is there a need for the anticipated product or service you want to offer?

  • It is what the market wants – Think of those who need what you want to offer. Who are you going to sell to? Are you sure they need it?

  • Competition – Are there other businesses offering the same or similar products or services? How is your own business going to fit in the market given that you have competitors? How is the competition going to look like?

2. Don’t forget to make business plan

After getting a business idea, it is now time for you to put down a plan on how to achieve it. A business plan is very necessary for anyone who wants to start a small business in Cameroon. It serves as a road-map that will guide you on how to carry out your business from the start through growth.

You must not have to come up with a traditional business plan that includes all the details. You can go for a detailed business plan when you are seeking for financial support from financial institutions or investors. If you are not seeking for any support, then a simple one-page business plan maybe all that you will need. You can create a business plan on your desktop sticky-note, a scrap of paper or on anything. You can improve on it over time as you work. It is very necessary for you to put down something in writing than not to do so.

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3. Fund your business

Here is one of the biggest problem would-be entrepreneurs in Cameroon face – getting funds. Starting a small business in Cameroon doesn’t require you to have a fortune. Knowing fully well that startups in Cameroon find it very difficult obtaining financial support in Cameroon, entrepreneurs do not necessarily require a lot of money to start up with. However, every small business needs some initial capital to start so as to cover expenses at the beginning.

Read Also: How Entrepreneurs Fund their Ventures in Cameroon

If you plan to start a small business in Cameroon, make sure you put together all the necessary startup cost estimates and what you will need to run the business for at least 12 months. All these put together will be what you need as initial investment. Once you get that, you will need to look for ways to raise the funds to start running your business. One of the easiest method to raise funds for your business in Cameroon is through presales to customers.

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4. What will be your business structure?

This is where many people who plan to start a small business in Cameroon usually have a problem. Many usually skip this part of the steps to create a successful business in Cameroon. You can’t talk of running a business when you don’t have a formal business structure. As an entrepreneur-in-the-making, you will need to decide the type of small business you will want to be. Do you want a partnership, sole proprietorship, or a limited liability company.

Don’t forget that what you choose as business structure will influence your business in many ways – business name, how you file in your tax and your liability. Many people who want to start a small business in Cameroon find it difficult to differentiate between sole proprietorship that pays the discharge tax without a business license, sole proprietorship with business license and a limited liability company. Read to know more about Cameroon’s local tax system and the business license tax in Cameroon.

You can choose a business structure in Cameroon and later on change when your business starts to grow.

5. Get a business name and register

Before picking a business name, you should know that names play a very big role in your business’ growth. You need to pick a good name and brand your product or service well. There is a great difference between a product and a brand, that you should know.

After picking a business name, you can go ahead and register your business. Having your business name trademarked is a great plus for you.

Don’t forget that part of your branding is for you to register a domain name. So while coming out with a name for your business, verify if the domain name is available. You can get in touch if you need help branding your business. I provide a branding package that includes domain name, web hosting services, web design and content writing. So you should not worry about marketing and branding, for it would be taken care of at a very small fee. Don’t ignore this step because it is what will make your business shine out there.

6. Do you need an authorization, license or permit?

There are some businesses in Cameroon that owners may need to apply for special permits, licenses or government authorization before they can start activities. You will have to do a research to find out if your business needs one before it goes operational because you may have to answer with the authorities if you don’t get one.

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Your business may also be an import or export business. In Cameroon, you will need to get an import/export license to carry out import or export activities. You will also need to know the import and export procedures in Cameroon. Checkout how we started a coffee export and import business in Cameroon

7. You definitely need business location

Once you are done with registering your business and getting the necessary licenses or authorizations, you need to setup a location for your business. This is a very important point to take note of because it depends a lot on many factors. You know you are a startup and need to minimize cost a lot. You have to think whether to start at home, a shared office or retail location. You may also setup your office where you source your raw materials or market to reduce unnecessary costs.

8. Make sure you keep your accounts straight

What I mean here is that you need to set up an accounting system for your business. Many small business owners rarely take their accounting serious. This is one of the most important aspects if you plan to start a business in Cameroon. An accounting system will help you to manage your budget, costs, set prices and many others. Setting up an accounting system is not that difficult. You can employ someone to do it for your, do it yourself or even outsource it to a small business accounting firm.

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9. Recruit team members

As a startup, you may not have the capacity to start employing workers. Make sure you choose your team members well. When choosing your team members or partners for a business, make sure you look for those who are right for the position. Think of what they can offer and not how related you are to them. I shared 5 successful tips on recruiting team members for your startup and 6 steps smart entrepreneurs use when choosing team members.

If you don’t have the means to get permanent employees, you can outsource the work to independent contractors until a time when you will be able to afford employing others to join you. It is worthy of note that the Cameroon government offers tax exemptions to promote youth employment. Your business may benefit from that also.

10. Sell your business’ image like it’s never been done before

Everything is now set up and you are ready to do business. You you decided to start a small business Cameroon in the first place to sell your product or services. Now you have to make sure people know about the product or service you are offering. You can create a marketing plan for your business after you must have identified your target market.

Promoting your business is very cheap especially for entrepreneurs in Cameroon. You don’t need a bill board, radio or TV adverts at the beginning because we all now how expensive they are. Social media is widely used today and very cheap. Digital marketing is the new marketing technique that effectively converts your audience into customers.

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Do you need online marketing skills? Don’t worry, just send an email and there will be experts to help you reach-out to your customers.

Read Also: Small Business Creation in Cameroon – The One-stop Shop

Once all of the above points have been taken care of, you can then start your Cameroon business activities with ease. I have put up a document archive that will help you as an entrepreneur in Cameroon. You may also need to know the rights and guarantees of a taxpayer in Cameroon. Also checkout these tips on how to start a business in Cameroon.

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