Thursday, February 9, 2012
How entrepreneurship sometimes fails in Laos
The Worldbank failed recently with a young entrepreneurship contest (not a single business was realized), the NUOAL is trying hard to get anyone setting up a business in their incubator, but without any success so far (now they will conduct a contest, as the World Bank did). So no local people interested in setting up a business in Laos? Actually, a lot do, but also fail. For some reasons. One is lack of experience and knowledge about a business. The coffeeshop where I am writing this post is in Phonthan village, and it is called Chilltime. On the door is a Gecko Wine sign and a FREE WIFI Planet sign as well. Inside, four girls sitting on a sofa watching TV. Of course, nobody speaks English. Not a single word. Once I ordered and got the coffee, the totally bored looking waitress went back to the sofa watching TV with her co-workers. Why will this coffeeshop fail? Overstaffed: The have 15 seats and 5 serving staff and maybe 3 more in the kitchen. Too much. No skills: There are already enough restaurants where the waitress task is bringing a menu and food to the table. No up-selling, no welcoming. But a lot of boredom. No USP: This shop offers the same (bad) service and products as any other. Nothing special. No knowledge: If you have English signs, you targeting English speaking customers. So don't be surprised if some show up. A TV is NOT for entertaining the staff, but for customers. So let the news run on it instead of soap operas. No business plan: It is nice that your niece works for free in the afternoon (as if she had a choice), but that doesn't make you a successful business. Without a strategy, you will fail. That's what most small enterprises are lacking of. Steve Jobs could afford to not do any market research, but not the average Lao business man. Bor pen yang: It might be Lao culture, but actually business DOES matter. If you are not totally into what you do, no wonder it will fail soon. A business owners duty is not just taking the money off the cashiers drawer and head to Udon for shopping. There is hard work to do. A good example of entrepreneurship as far as I know is ME SHOP (www.Macinlao.com): Clear concept, strategy and (I hope) business plan.