What challenges do small businesses face in Cambodia?


There is not a day that goes by where we don’t talk about the COVID pandemic. It is on the news, in our social feeds and it has infiltrated both our personal and professional worlds. Many businesses have shifted employees to a work-from-home routine; changing everything about how the business day works. We’ve moved from in-person to video. We’ve adapted to multiple family members attempting to be productive, in the same space, at the same time and we’ve shifted from brick-and-mortar to a heavier online presence. In the midst of it all, there have been many success stories. Yet, the challenges are ever apparent. Many have lost revenue. Many have laid off employees. Many have had challenges with technology and others have struggled with the limited resources. Many have closed their doors, permanently. The most impacted? The small business.

The small business, in my opinion, is what makes Cambodia great. It is not only the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives here, but the ability to make the dream a reality. What was once a sketch on a napkin or a conversation over dinner can actually become something here. No idea is too great. No passion is stifled. No desire to persevere is frowned upon. We have the imagination and the resources to take an idea and make it into something special. But, in the past year our favorite shops have disappeared. Our friends have lost what they built, from the ground-up, and the hope for the future for many has dwindled, and my heart breaks.

This is a list of the top five challenges of starting a business in Cambodia.

Challenge 1:  No Clear Business plan

Many small businesses in Cambodia have no a clear business plan. They start the business with only one objective is the make profits to support their daily lives. Some of the business know how to develop a plan but still lack of knowledge to execute the plan. What they need now is to upskill their business plan and execute it on a daily basis to experience and adapt the plan accordingly.

Challenge 2: Lack of Knowledge in  Digital Marketing & Sales

Digital marketing is become more important when it comes to marketing and sale a product or service. Some small business staff who have extensive experience in offline marketing but lack of knowledge (skills and experience)  in digital marketing to make the products or services sale online. For marketing or sales persons who possess good command of English language, they can learn the digital marketing and sales skills online quickly and adapt to the trends of rapidly growing of technology and marketing industry while others slowly learn to adapt this change. Upskilling digital marketing whether with local or international experts in digital marketing is required for every marketing person nowadays in Cambodia.

Challenge 3: Not Ready to Adapt to Technology Change

Technology has rapidly changed the ways people work, communications, doing business, and building relationship. AI and Marketing automation tools have been around for years to facilitate human beings work and business even better. Some small businesses in Cambodia have not ready in using them and don’t know there to learn about them just yet. This is not because they are not ready to lean, but because not may tech-savy who are capability in training them to use it. Even though, small business needs to start exploring those technology available out there to incorporate with their business which could support their ways of doing business and work faster.

Challenge 4: Following Others Business, Not Own Passion

Some business owners start a business because of seeing others making a lot of profits. They start it with less experience and business skills in that field. They are likely to fail as it is not their passion to do so. They have no real commitment over that business. They can give it up easily.

Challenge 5: Online Payment Gateway

Some small businesses who are not registered with the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia, they cannot get the benefits of using online payment gateway from all of the banks in Cambodia. To be able to use the online payment gateway, all businesses whether are small or medium companies are required to have official documents regarding to the business registration and at least have 6 months valid operations.

Challenge 6: Violation of Tax Provisions and Additional Tax

New tax regulations which could bring great facilitation to the small businesses, but somehow, it will cost more expenditure on the business daily operations which small business cannot be overlook that is why some small businesses are not ready to register even they know that someday they will face tax legal issues.

What challenges do small businesses face in Cambodia?
What challenges do small businesses face in Cambodia?

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