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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Put together the pieces of your business

Put together the pieces of your business

The SWOT analysis is used by a variety of organisations and businesses to step back and see the reality of the situation. You can use it to be a less biased judge of your planned business.

  1. Draw four boxes labelled strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and leave space for a list in each box.
  2. Begin to brainstorm different characteristics of your business model and that of your potential competitors to put into one of these four categories.
  3. Determine your plan’s strengths. Include items that make your plan stand out, such as location or expertise.
  4. Identify the weaknesses in your plan. Ask yourself how the organisation could be better. Be realistic about how the cost to consumers, human resources or quality could be better, even if it seems unrealistic.
  5. Recognise your organisation’s opportunities. These are advantages your plan will have over existing players in the market like a growing market or weak competitors.
  6. Locate potential threats. These are outside changes that you cannot predict or prevent. They could be new technology that makes your business obsolete or new laws that would force you to shut down. Now compare all of the catergories. Which lists are the most convincing? How can you reduce the risks by altering your idea. You should now have an idea of where to improve.

Tivea Koam and Chang Lita track down young entrepreneurs for advice on launching a start-up

The World's 10 wealthiest entrepreneurs

1. Carlos Slim
2. Bill Gates
United States
3. Warren Buffett
United States
4. Mukesh Ambani
5. Lakshmi Mittal
6. Lawrence Ellison
United States
7. Bernard Arnault
8. Eike Batista
9. Amancio Ortega
10. Karl Albrecht

You are probably hoping to get a lucrative job after leaving university, but even if you are the brightest graduate in the Kingdom you will still have to start your career working under someone else. Unless, that is, you pass on the job search altogether and become the boss of your own business.

Most students look to potential employers to find a lucrative job with financial security to allow them to live a happy post-collegiate life, but one option that is rarely considered is developing an innovative idea and launching a self-owned business in order to be one’s own boss.

One of the main reasons that this career path is rarely considered by students and young professionals is because most people who don’t come from a wealthy family doubt their capacity to organise or finance a business start-up. Yet there are a number of young people in the Kingdom who are proving that it’s possible to build a successful business without years of experience if you have a clear plan and understand what potential customers want.

Ly Linda is yet to finish her degree at the National University of Management (NUM), yet the 19-year-old has already started a successful business that is running smoothly. “I don’t want to do work for other people or get ordered to do anything,” says the independent young woman, telling Lift that the goal shared by most of her peers to get a stable and high-paying position never appealed to her. “Therefore, I started my own business so I can support myself from now on.”

a person can some from anywhere to start a business if they have a great idea."

With sales at her clothes and cosmetics shop at Olympic market steadily rising since opening six months ago, Ly Linda says understanding her customers, mostly teenage girls like herself, has been the key to her initial success. “To give information to customers about my products I always use Facebook,” she says, explaining that social networking sites not only allow her to connect directly with her target population, but are also free. Ly Linda has nearly 5,000 friends on her Facebook account these days, which means she can send advertisements to thousands of customers at no cost.

She said that on the ground, networking is very important for her business as well. “There was a customer from the United States buying my lotion, and when she told her friends that my products were good there were more and more customers ordering from me,” she says, adding that word of mouth is particularly effective if you are selling high-quality goods.

The importance of knowing your clientele is echoed by Lor Sokkhim, a 28-year-old who runs the iCafe restaurant in Phnom Penh. “I know who I sell to and what price they can afford,” explains the young entrepreneur. “I know my target is a middle-aged businessman who needs Chinese noodles and coffee in the morning, and that is what we seriously focus on offering.”

Although cutting costs is key, Lor Sokkhim advises people to balance savings with quality. “When buying tissue paper I must look at which choice is cheaper, even by 100 riel, but still meets the demand for quality among my customers,” he says.

Lor Sokkhim didn’t study business at university, but he has the advantage of coming from a business-minded family, and he said his ability to come up with solutions independently has been crucial to improving his restaurant operation, which, after only eight months, has already exceeded his expectations for profit in the first year, he told Lift.

“Learning to do business is not only possible at school, a person can come from anywhere to start a business if they have a great idea,” he said, adding that he hopes to open a suki soup restaurant soon.

Having a vision and clear goals for your business is essential, said Chang Bunleang, a shareholder in Brown Coffee shop in Phnom Penh, and regardless of prior planning, beginning a business still poses significant risks. Having a plan will guide a business and help people involved stay focused, but owners must also prepare for unexpected risks.

“I started my business in the middle of the economic crisis. Any business could collapse at anytime,” he said. However, due to six months of planning, which included considerations for possible problems, the doors to Brown Coffee opened last year and the shop is not only still open, it has become quite successful and recently opened its second branch in the capital city.

With an informal background in business, Chang Bunleang says the skills he learned in English literature and communication courses have proven to be highly useful as an entrepreneur. He explained that he doesn’t only sell coffee at his shop, but also a concept, service and atmosphere. “Designing and decorating the shop is really beneficial to my business,” he said. “It makes customers feel good when they come to chat with their friends or read books.”

Making sure that his staff understand the importance of communication was also a priority for Chang Bunleang. “If we have good products, but our staff doesn’t know how to introduce them to customers, they still won’t know about them,” he says.

Drinking coffee is not part of a typical Cambodian’s daily schedule, according to Chang Bunleang, so it was also important for him to pick a noticeable spot that would attract expats.“Nine out of 10 foreigners drink coffee, so finding a location they can find is really important,” he said.

Ultimately, starting a business is risky, but it can also be more rewarding than the alternative options for employment.

“If students have a clear goal and business plan as well as the courage to take risks and overcome difficulties, they should start their own business rather than wasting their time working for others,” says Chang Bunleang.

It might seem daunting, but take it from these young entrepreneurs; starting a profitable business is possible and can provide professional freedom that you simply can’t find working for someone else.



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