With a population of over 180 million people, huge economic potential and a number of societal issues that need resolution, there is no better time to start a business in Nigeria than now. The last few years have seen an exponential increase in the number of SMEs in the country and this has contributed immensely to the growth of the economy. This has further cemented the country’s status as a fast developing nation and emerging global power.
Starting a business in Nigeria can be daunting especially if you are navigating the sea of business for the first time. However, the business opportunities that exist in the country are enormous and very rewarding. Below are some steps you need to consider before quitting your ‘9 to 5’ and/or starting a business in Nigeria.
Develop a Business Idea
It starts with an idea. This is the first and one of the most important step to consider when starting your business. When thinking up a business idea, it is important to note that the sole purpose of a business is to proffer solution to people’s problem; and as such your business idea must be one that does exactly that.
It is advisable to ensure that your business solution is customized to fit the reality in the country and not to copy and paste a business idea from abroad just because it was successful there – that could be your biggest undoing. It is also pertinent to state that your business idea does not necessarily have to be new, it could be an improvement on an already existing solution.
Exercise Due Diligence.
Once you are convinced that your business idea solves a problem and might improve people’s quality of living in a way, it is time to go to school. I do not mean you necessarily have to go to a business school (even though that would be of advantage), but that you have to learn about the sector you are venturing into. Starting a business in Nigeria is not exactly a walk in the park and doing that without adequate research can be suicidal.
To apprise yourself of the business terrain, you might need to attend workshops, scour the internet for relevant resources, talk to industry leaders and experts and conduct feasibility studies to ascertain the viability of your business idea. This further help to ensure that your ideas are fully formed and solid. And once that is established we can go on to planning.
Prepare a Business plan/Business case
Planning is very critical to a successful business venture. Many entrepreneurs in Nigeria do not currently have a business plan because many think it is not necessary; nothing could be farther from the truth.
A good business plan helps to highlight your business goals and articulate the solution your business provides. It also sets a road-map on how you intend to generate revenue and profit while providing insight into ideal location, your competitors, target market and how you intend to reach them. Besides, hardly does any investor take you serious if you cannot provide a plan or case for your business.
The information contained in your plan might change as time goes on but you should never start your business without one. It is like visiting a new city without a map – it is easy to get lost and trust me people get stranded in business.
Build a Start-Up team.
This is arguably the most important step in starting a business and it is no coincidence that it is the first of the three Ps (pillars) of business – people, process and product. While you might still need to hire people when the business eventually starts and as the business grows, the start-up team are those who share in the viability of your idea and help to get the idea off the ground and set it in motion. Some of them you might need to go into partnership with either because they know more about an aspect of the business than you do or they can provide both expertise and working capital to the business.
The start-up team could help sharpen your ideas, improve your business model, attract investors and ultimately drive profitability in the business. Having these kind of team in place can then give us the confidence to go on to raise funds for our business.
The age long saying that you need money to make money obviously has its root in business. It is how you run your day to day operations, acquire raw materials and equipment, promote your brand and even pay employees. For many entrepreneurs in Nigeria and even around the world, raising funds for business could be a major challenge but not an impossible one. You can raise capital for your business through personal savings, donations and loans from family and friends, bank loans and angel investors who are impressed by your business plan.
Register your Business
Part of the capital raised can be used to establish a legal framework for the business like registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Before going on to register the company with CAC, you must first decide what legal structure your business will take – do you want to register as a sole proprietor, a partnership or a corporation?
You might want to secure the services of a lawyer for this process and for proper advice on the best way to proceed. It is important you complete this process before you can be allowed to register with the Federal and State Inland Revenue Services and even open a corporate account with your bank.
As soon as all the legal structure has been put in place and all necessary registrations have been verified and validated, it is time to open shop.
This is a remixed version of the Nike slogan “Just do it”. The sea and the weather will not always be perfect to sail into the business waters but you can be rest assured now that you have what it takes to navigate safely. Even as you start small, your goal daily from here on is to build quality product and services, promote your brand online and offline, listen to customer’s feedback to modify your product/services and keep working to expand your customer base. Always remember that the businesses that eventually thrive are not just those that meet customers’ expectations but ones that go on to consistently surpass them.
If you follow the highlighted steps above duly, you will be well on your way to finding out just how rewarding it is to do business in the most populous black nation in the world. Welcome to the world of business.