What It Takes To Successfully Start A Business In Nigeria

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The biggest problem you'll face when trying to start a business in Nigeria what I call wrong assumptions. Things you are very sure of but aren't correct.  And if you intend to start a business part-time, they often go undetected and kill the business.

I started my business part-time in 2012. I was 100% certain that the money is in catering for SMEs and consulting. It took just months of starting full time to find that the SME focus is a deadend. And two years to find that consulting involves too much resource waste and doesn't scale well. It's the training as a service/product that I was doing on the side while working on growing the consulting arm that is now my main income generator. Getting us more money per resource/energy than the best consulting job we've ever got. Plus it scales better.

Also at the start, I never considered building a mass market product. Now that is the big focus for us. It's where our future and eventual success lies.

All these are things I could never figure out at the start or while doing the business part-time. It's obvious to most of us why errors abound at the start of a business but it might not be obvious why running the business part-time still puts one at a disadvantage. The reason is as long as your entire income is not coming from the business and you have a primary income source you already devote time to, you can never take the type of big risks and devote the insane amount of time it requires to fully understand the business you're getting into -- not just from the service/product offering side but also from the customer relationship side, human resource side and industry evolution side. If you've not had to put your entire life on hold trying to make the business work, you will always be working at the periphery of the deep potentials the business has. Even if you are doing well running it part-time, you will do 10 times better and more future prepared if you are full-time in it.

The Nigerian business environment is full of unknowns, traps, potholes and risks that you can never plan for passively. Imagine driving on a Nigerian road on autopilot. Then don't drive your business that way. Processes and structure should not replace active management. Delegation sounds nice if it's one of your five prospering businesses or just a source of side income. If it's your only source of income and you've given up almost everything to set it up, and it's based in Nigeria, you have to roll your sleeves up and be involved in all aspects of the business. Not doing that is increasing the risk of business failure.

So what am I saying it takes to successfully start a business in Nigeria?

It doesn't take great intelligence, there are many dumb businesses and uneducated entrepreneurs doing well in Nigeria. It doesn't take a great business idea, an idea, no matter the adjective used to qualify it, is just an idea. The work is in the implementation. It doesn't take capital, that is just an escuse from someone who is not willing to make his business idea work. All it takes is all of you. You have to be there fully and always at the start.


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