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Steps on How to Start a Business in Nigeria

These days, the internet is flooded with very useful information about entrepreneurship and starting a business. But often time you will need to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to get the right information.

Usually the process of starting a business begins with an idea. Once you think the idea is good enough to build a profitable business with then the next step is to develop your business idea in to a viable business plan.
A business plan is one of the most important ingredients when preparing the recipe for a successful business. Without a well written business plan, your investment in your business may just be akin to flushing money down the drain.
In this post, we’ve highlighted a series of easy-to-follow steps that you need to successfully start your business and execute that amazing business idea.

Step by Step Guidelines:

Step One: Develop Your Business Plan:
It is possible for you to ask someone to write a business plan for you but it will be best for you to write it yourself.
An Ideal business plan has the following aspects:
  • ·         The Executive Summary
  • ·         Business Description
  • ·         Market demand
  • ·         Competitive analysis
  • ·         Design and Development
  • ·         Operation and Management
  • ·         Resources
  • ·         Financial forecast or projections

Executive Summary
The highlight of your business plan is found within the executive summary. Basically, the major points of the business are usually outlined in just this single page of the executive summary.
Business Description
Here, you’ll discuss the industry you’re starting your business in, while taking a look at the present and future of the business in the industry. It includes present and future projections.
Market Demand
This is based on the analysis of your market. After the evaluation of your market, you can then proceed to identify your target market. The identity of your target market is very important because this is what influences your market strategies.

You can easily formulate the right techniques on how to impart value to your target market as a means of generating sales and boosting your company’s profitability.
Competitive analysis:
This chapter involves analyzing your competitors’ strengths and weakness will help you identify the potential opportunities and threats in your prospective business. In terms of the weakness, you can leverage on them to create your unique selling point. It involves preparing the SWOT analysis.
Design and Development
This applies particularly to businesses that are into product development. This phase does not necessarily apply to service based company.
In the design and development phase, it is essential you create a budget to cater for these aspects. That is, the aspect of developing your products.
Operation and Management Plan
This is another important aspect of the business that many new entrepreneurs often neglect. Once your business begins operation, you’ll need to have an operation and management schedule that should be strictly followed. This should be clearly explained in your business plan so that you can have an idea of your inflow and outflow.
Most times, there are a lot of expenses at the initial stage of starting a business and you’ll need to take this into consideration when planning your business.
You cannot start a business without resources and you will need to ascertain your resources. The best way to do that is to write down what you have and what you may possibly need. Also, you may have received support from your family and friends. In this case, you should ensure that these sources are clearly noted in your plan.
Financial Forecast
Although the written forecast for most businesses is often different from reality, it is still necessary that you write it down in your business plan.
Particularly, if you’re looking for funding, one of the things potential investors often look at is the forecast. It puts things in perspective and gives them an idea even if vague of what to expect from your business.

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Step Two: Register your business
The next step after mapping out your business plan is to get your business registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission commonly called the CAC.
The CAC is responsible for the registration of all business entities in the country.
But you’ll need to answer a couple of questions before getting your business registered.
First, what kind of business are you starting?
Basically, there are 3 types of business entity:
  1. 1.    Sole proprietorship
  2. 2.    Private Limited Liability Company
  3. 3.    Public Limited Liability Company.

The ownership structure of your business will influence the type of business you should start.
Secondly, what is your business name?
You would need to take your business name to the commission to get it verified. Sometimes, the name you intend to use may already be used by someone. So, you’ll need to get this sorted first before you can take the next step.
There are several CAC offices spread across the 36 states of the country. You should choose the one closest to you. You can do your registration online as the process can be done online.
Once your business name is verified, you’ll be given a form to fill. Input the necessary details and pay the prescribed fee. Then, your application will be processed. After a few weeks, your business registration should have been concluded and a certificate will be issued to you and then you can move to the next step.
To register your business online check
Step Three: Tax Registration
This step involves getting your company registered at the tax office. Tax related issues are under the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
This is where you’ll send the value added taxes, company income taxes and withholding taxes. It is extremely important that your get registered at the tax office closest to you.
Once you’re done with the process. You’ll be given a tax identification number (TIN) which you can use for your tax processes. Moreover, tax identification number (TIN) is one of the needed requirements in setting up a corporate account.

Step Four: Obtain the Necessary Permits
Most businesses are supervised by associations as a result, one of the things you need to do is to get your business properly registered with the related body. For instance, the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria is responsible for overseeing pharmacy businesses in the country.
You can make enquiries on the stipulated fees and the things you need to do before you open your business to the general public.
Failure to carry out due process can put you in trouble and you can end being fined. Remember ignorance is no excuse in the court of law. Often times, there are fees to be paid and guidelines to be followed and you need to know these things before you can carry business in any of the sectors you choose to.
Once you’ve sorted out the process of getting your permits and other necessary steps then you can move on to the next step.
Step Five: Get an Office Space
The process of renting or leasing your office space can be done simultaneous with steps two, three and four.
Interestingly, these days there are some businesses that can be started from the comfort of your home. For instance, most internet based businesses don’t require an office space. You can seamlessly work remotely from home. But you may eventually need an office space on the long run. This will be necessary once your clientele base begins to expand and you need to employ more staff.
Also, some businesses are extremely location dependent. This is why it is necessary that you must have carried out market research prior to acquiring your office space.
One example is the fast food business. This line of business will do extremely well in a commercial area than it will in a residential environment.
After acquiring office premise, the next step is to furnish it to your taste. Also, the products you will be selling will be brought in at this stage. And if it’s a service based business, the equipments needed to execute your daily activity should also be brought in.
Step Six: Create a Website
Almost every business is online these days. Your business should have a web presence at least. This makes it easy for potential clients to easily locate your business.

 But, this goes beyond just finding a random web designer and telling him to create a web site for your business. Already, the internet has a lot of crappy websites and you should not add your website to the long list.

You should pay particular attention to the user interface of your site. Also, it is important that your search engine is particularly optimized to search engines like Google.
These features cannot be carried out by just anybody with the tag of website designer. If you really want your business to be exceptional then you should employ the services of a professional web designer that knows his onions.
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For instance when people search for keywords relating to your business, they should be able to find your company as one of the top on the list and this is what will make the process of getting clients easy. Getting a good designer might need you to pay a reasonable amount of money. Well, by all means please do, because it will certainly help your business on the long run.

Step Seven: Implement Your Marketing Strategies
“Build it and they will come”
I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Well, that never works because nobody will come if you do not tell them to come, this is where your marketing team plays a prominent role.
Depending on what kind of business you operate, you need to actively advertise your services to your potential clients.
You should find where your prospective customers hang out and seek ways to meet them to advertise your products.
If you run an educational or tutorial center, go to schools in your neighborhood and tell the students about your service. If you run poultry business, go to the market or visit the retail stores around you and offer your eggs to them.
There are many ways to execute your marketing strategy and this is where the success of your business lies. Many businesses have failed because they could not generate enough customers and one major cause of this is poor marketing efforts.
Step Eight: Develop a brand
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking your business is successful due to stream of customers you have and your revenue generation.
But the truth is creating a sustainable business goes beyond that. You need to create a unique value by branding your company appropriately.
For instance, if you run an eatery or restaurant, you can build your value around your unique customer service. With many restaurants lacking in this aspect, you can easily stand out among your peers. Interestingly, it doesn’t cost you much apart from taking out time to train your staffs in customer service.
Branding also includes create a logo to signify what your company stands for. Also, your staff should have a business card or ID card showing where they work.
These simple tools are very powerful in helping you stand out among other companies in your niche.
As stated earlier, it’s easy to get stuck in the profit first mentality but a great business is all about value creation. And you can make the value you offer reverberate in your branding message.
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Step Nine: Promote your business
Once you’ve done all you need to do. You shouldn’t rest your oars. Promote your business and seek opportunities to showcase your business to your potential clients. Promotion of your business is something you should never get tired of.
In a short while, you would see steady improvement in your business.
Starting a business in Nigeria is not for the faint hearted. Although, we seem to have given you a step by step guide but it’s not really as smooth sailing as shown in this article. There are some frustrations along the way.
But the difference between the successful business person and the unsuccessful one is simply – persistence. Don’t give up in the face of adversity, keep at it. Seek advice when you’re stuck in a rut and again – DO NOT GIVE UP
Now, it’s time to take the first step and execute that great business idea of yours -– Get Started! Good luck!

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