As we enjoy this digital era of internet and social media, there are possibilities that our internet businesses will face tough times as African presidents continuously resort to shutting off the internet in their countries for political reasons. Most businesses rely exclusively on the internet whereas a great number of others use the to augment daily activities and close deals. To stay in business, African entrepreneurs must stay smarter than ever. Entrepreneurs experiencing internet outage must learn to make their businesses survive during internet outage.
Businesses and promising tech startups in the anglophone region of Cameroon remain in a state of utter bewilderment because of a long internet suspension by the government. How do these businesses survive, scale and break even without the internet? Internet suspension is a menace to creativity and innovation.
Hitherto, entrepreneurs in Anglophone Cameroon are currently sailing without the internet. I came up with 5 business survival tips during long internet suspension to help you stay in business while waiting for your government to restore connectivity.
Evernote for Planning & Brainstorming
During internet shutdown, entrepreneurs always figure out ways to access the internet. However, a major frustration is in the amount of time wasted while in non-internet zones. To mitigate these, entrepreneurs could use apps that work offline and sync when online.
The trick is to be able to create and interact with content while you are offline so that when you get online, your app can pick up from there to achieve your business goal.
Oh! Good Old SMS.
Your customers are on Social Media and the internet helps you to reach them. When you discover that these same customers have phones, hence can read SMS and received calls, then half of the work is done.
What’s next? Why should they connect with you on SMS?
Come to think of it, your target audience ignores you on Social Media some days and crave over your content on other days. The secret is great content.
When you take the time to create great content and deliver over SMS, more people will subscribe to your SMS reader-base and you will be able to market without the internet.
The cost of SMS might appear to be higher than the cost of internet. However, with some strategy, you will be able to segment your contacts based on their service providers, cities and countries, and use the free SMS bundles of all the service providers of target audiences to reach them at low costs.
Yes, Meetings. Not e-Meetings
While you’re in an internet-deprived zone, take the time and have real meetings with real people. Have meetings with your teammates in offices and conference rooms.
What about the simple idea you wanted to pitch to a colleague or a boss. Hi bro, it’s coffee time. Pitch your idea to his/ her face and get real reactions.
Use this period as an opportunity to meet people physically and connect with them. This might be very effective if you focus on creating partnerships that can help you scale rather than trying to access your target audiences directly on your won.
You might even be able to achieve more with physical meetings than with the internet if you put proper thought into your strategy.
Co-working spaces, coffee shops or a place to call office
Oh! Yeah, all that won’t do. You still need the internet. Yes, of course. In the case of Cameroons’ internet blackout, ActivSpaces Cameroon is offering her co-working office in Douala for free to all software developers from internet-deprived zones.
— steve tchoumba (@stevetchoumba) January 31, 2017
You could subscribe to a co-working space (e.g. ActivSpaces or Jokko Labs), or pick a nice juice bar like Bonga Juice Bars, where you could spend your days working. Other alternatives include libraries.
The thing is, you always need a place to call an office.
Dating, Love and Free Accommodation or AirBnB
Daily commutes to distant cities just to access the internet is both strenuous and expensive. Hotels? Hmmm! Do not create a hole in your young startup’s pocket to cover hotel bills. Except you plan to cover those bills with your salary, your CEO, investor or bank account will tell you NO! You need to be creative.
The easiest way out of this is friendship. If you have close friends in cities with the internet, then you don’t have to worry. Talk with a couple of them and convince one person to host you. If you have no friends, then you need to be even more creative.
My idea is dating. Find a girl or boy you can like, start dating, and that’s it, you have free accommodation. This will sound sick if you equate it for exchanging sex for accommodation. However, if you get to love the other person, there’s nothing wrong with this. Or at least, not as bad as a government that cuts off the internet while young entrepreneurs are struggling.
As long as you can brainstorm, communicate with your team and partners, market, sell, deliver to clients, have a place to work and live, you are good to go.
Have any survival tip, drop it here in the comments area. Do same if you disagree with any of these tips.