The Only 3 Things You Need To Know When Starting An Online Business In Africa
Starting an online business is getting both easier and cheaper than ever. With the current availability of thousands of free and paid online tools & frameworks, you can go from idea to launch in a very short time.
While it’s exciting to start an online business anywhere in the world and be labelled an “internet entrepreneur”, it’s important to know that several factors can hinder your success. It gets even more troubling in Africa, because of the really low number of internet users, coupled with trust issues, logistics challenges, and a lot more.
If you’re going to start an online business in Africa, there’re 3 very important things you must know and do everything in your power to execute right.
1), If You’re Not Filling A Pressing Need, You’re Wasting Your Time:
A product that solves no real or pressing problem has no market anywhere in the world, especially in Africa. No matter how beautiful, thoughtful, or impressive the product or service your online business sells, if there’s no real demand for it, or there’s a ridiculously cheaper/efficient offline alternative, you could as well write-off your investments as a loss.
If your online business is considering covering an unreasonable niche that hasn’t gone through a good market research process, you need to slow down and remind yourself that the internet users in Africa are considerably low, internet connection is slow, and so many Africans still don’t trust online businesses. Starting an online business that is simply “cool” after your market research (and not your inherent excitement) shows there’s little to no demand for the product or service you choose to sell, would be financial suicide.
If your online business won’t solve any real problems people face, especially in Africa, don’t even think about taking-off!
2). Pick The Right Domain Name:
After your market research has proven that your online business idea is going to solve at least one major problem people experience everyday, the next thing is to pick the right domain name.
Once again, you need to remember that the people who’d use these products and services are Africans. So you need to pick a name that’s not just easy to pronounce, but is also easy to spell. A combination of local popular words would be a great fit.
Keep it simple and preferably short, so you don’t have to start spending millions of Naira or even Dollars many months later to rebrand your company to a new name.
Remember, if your domain name is difficult to spell when people first first hear it, then it’s already bad.
3). While Marketing Should Be Online, A Lot Of It Would Be Done Offline:
While it’s ideal that an online business could only be promoted online, in Africa, the reverse is the case.
As you run online campaigns through social media & light ads, you need to be chasing more customers offline. You’d to need to make a lot of calls, visit a lot of offices, talk at a lot of events, and pretty much do everything possible to try to claim a lot of this offline market.
The lack of trust makes it difficult for a lot of Africans to completely make a decision to pay for an item online, but when met offline, for example, a follow-up phone call or a visit to the office, the chances of them placing the order increases.
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What are your thoughts on these 3 things to know when starting an online business in Africa? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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