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Keys to running a successful Business in Nigeria


Nigeria serves as one of the best countries in the Sub-Sahara region of Africa to invest in due to its climate condition, geographical area, and political stability among other characteristics that foster business opportunities. Although the economy may look like it’s failing but nevertheless there are many business opportunities that are striving and blooming with great yields.  Nigeria has been a fertile ground for years for both local and foreign businesses to thrive and expand.

In order to start a successful business in Nigeria, there are certain keys that must strictly be adhered to and must not be overlooked. These various keys will determine how far your business will go in Nigeria. Businesses that fail to abide by most of these rules are more likely to fail in their business or run into debt.

  • Register your business

This should be the first thing that every business owner has to do in order to be successful. This key is mostly overlooked by businesses in Nigeria because they don’t want to pay tax or they see it unnecessary act. Not registering your business is an illegal act and this can lead to penalties and fines by the government. Businesses in Nigeria that wants to be successful must ensure that they register the business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria to be able to run their business legitimately. This also depends on the type of business you are registering whether it’s a sole proprietorship, public limited liability company or a private limited liability company

  • Develop a Business plan

Regardless of the type of business you want to venture into, always research and do your homework concerning the business. A well written business plan will enable you map out the future of your business and allows you to stand firm by making necessary preparations. You will need to research on a lot of things before developing a business plan that will suit you. Research needs to be done on the type of product or business you want to venture into, your competitors and other relevant information.  According to a study done in Nigeria, over 85% of business in Nigeria operate without business plans. Banks or Investors may not consider granting loans to businesses that operate without a business plan or lack a proper business plan. Proper planning is very important for any business in Nigeria that’s willing to succeed because you need to layout plans.

  • Secure a good Location

This is also a very important key for running a successful business in Nigeria. Different locations in states in a given country favours a certain product or a business. Conducting your business in an environment that would not help your business strive will lead to challenges or may even lead to your business packing up and running into debt. As a business owner you need to understand the type of environment that will suit your business. Are you going to secure your location in an industrial area or your neighbourhood?. This question is dependent on the type of business you want to venture into.

  • Learn from other Entrepreneurs

A saying goes thus “Experience is the best teacher”. Instead of jumping into a business with little or no knowledge about it while making grievous mistakes that might lead loss in investments. It is more advisable to seek for help by meeting with entrepreneurs who are in the line of your business and ask them the necessary questions on how they built their own businesses and the mistakes they made in the course of the business too. The honest ones will definitely help you and give you the best practices you should follow for your business. One of the way of meeting other like-minded entrepreneurs is by attending conferences or by reading magazines and newspapers articles from top business men will help you in the long run.

  • Get Techie

The modern world has improvised will technology. There is hardly anything you won’t do without adopting tech. Technology makes a lot of things easier and it also saves a great load of time. People can advance their business with technology by using different computer software to take records of stock, perform office tasks, keep relevant information and do lots of other things. Do things the old fashioned way may not be profitable to the business because it delays the work that can be done in minutes and even seconds when using technology.

  • Ensure that you disperse quality goods and services

Most businesses in Nigeria tend to give substandard goods and services to their customers because majority of them believe that the customers won’t be aware. In Nigeria, compromising the quality of goods and services has been the norm for businesses. In order to have a successful business in Nigeria, always deliver good products and services to your customers so that it will boost your reputation in the market. One way client and customers can trust a business without fault is by delivering quality products and services.

  • Hire right

As a business that seeks to grow and develop in the economy, employees will be needed to achieve this goal. A business will need to hire employees with the right mind-set and skills. This can lead to the make point or breaking point of the business as the people you hire can either help your business grow or make the business worse. Businesses must also ensure that the employees are well treated, engaged and are in an environment that will enable them to thrive.

  • Pay your bills and taxes on time

A business that wants to be successful must ensure that all the relevant bills and taxes relating to them are paid when due so as to avoid further fines and penalties by the government. It is also important for businesses to pay their debts in their too. If business falter in making these payments it may lead to bad reputation and the business may find it difficult in future to foster and have business relationships. Businesses should send all the taxes ranging from Value Added tax (VAT), Company Income tax (CIT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax of its employees to the relevant tax authority in the state or country.

  • Get the relevant documents and necessary permits

Before operating a business in Nigeria, there are necessary document and permits that’ll be needed. Most businesses in Nigeria has an association that supervises them. You can find out from others in your line of business or hire a consultant that’ll help you in getting these permits. For instance, when operating a transportation business in Nigeria, the business owner will need to join the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the state and ensure that an inter-state permit is also gotten. Failure to get this done will lead to fines and penalties

  • Network constantly

Having good business and social network is one of the ways businesses thrive in Nigeria. Businesses must ensure that they build good network with their customers, clients and even their employees. This is a very important growth factor for businesses in Nigeria. Networking constantly also puts your business in the forefront.

  • Have a mentor

A study carried out found out that about 89% of business owners without mentors have regrets about not having one. Having good mentorship will pin point your business in the right path and guide you towards achieving your goals. A good mentor must be accessible and must have attained the level that your business is aspiring to be

  • Understand your market

Another step to having a successful business in Nigeria is the ability of the business owner to have an understanding of the business he is venturing into, the competitors, consumers and other things pertaining to the type of business. This will allow the business to run smoothly and thrive in the country

  • Control or minimize your spending

As a business owner in Nigeria, it is very important to exercise financial control by not spending excessively. Not having financial control may lead to the business running into debt. Only things that are very important or will create value immediately to the business. Excessive spending can only be allowed if the business is expecting a sizeable amount of profit.

  • Customer satisfaction

‘’Customers are always right, they are never wrong”. This quote is correct because without customers a business will not exist. Businesses must make sure that in all their dealings, the end result must be to satisfy their customers. If your customers are not happy, your business will be unsuccessful because there will be no one to patronize them.  Businesses must ensure that the needs of its customers are met.

  • Develop your business brand

Branding deals with establishing a certain identity for your business. For instance, a  business that deals with selling clothing items and accessories sends a “thank you for patronizing us’’ text message or a little gift card to accompany it to the customers. This will make them stand out because it’s not all businesses in the clothing items line that indulge in this act. Branding can also be done by creating a unique logo, business cards, and making a company brochure for your business

  • Market and Advertise your business

Advertising is a way of planting your business in the minds of consumers. Marketing and advertising the products and services of your business will bring in more profit. Technology has improved various marketing and advertising strategies. Businesses could make use of affiliate marketing where your business will always be talked about on the internet, social media, bill-boards and lots of other mediums.

  • Hire a consultant or a professional attorney

Hiring a consultant or a professional attorney with a good reputation will help your business grow and develop. A consultant will provide you with all the necessary documents that your business will need. They also give advice to business owners on how they can run their firms better, government policies that can favour them, how to reduce their tax liabilities among other countless ways they can help the business

  • Keep Detailed and relevant records of the business

For businesses to be successful in Nigeria, they must ensure that they properly keep all the relevant documents and information regarding their business. By keeping detailed and relevant records, the business owner will be able to know how financially stable the business is and how to create strategies that will help in the future growth of the firm.

  • Plough back profit

Another key to having a successful business is re-investing the profit made in order to expand the business and reach more people. This key is very important and should be encouraged among business owners in Nigeria.

  • Make research on your competitors

No matter the type of business you are indulging in, you will always have competitors. This should be seen as an on-going activity that will make you understand what is lacking in your product or services to customers. Competitions should not be ignored but should be learnt from.

  • Ask for feedback

Business that wants to be successful will always ask for feedback from their clients and customers. This will enable them to work better on their performance and what they have been lacking. Businesses should not be afraid of receiving negative feedbacks because having them will make the business improve drastically in order to ensure that they don’t get negative feedbacks again

  • Set goals

One of the ways to have a successful business is by setting goals. Goals could be set monthly, quarterly or yearly and this will ensure that the business works towards it. For instance, a business can set the amount of revenue it will be willing to make monthly and it must ensure that all things are in place in order to ensure that the goals are achievable.

There are many profit making and successful businesses in Nigeria, you can emulate them by doing more than what they have previously done. These keys are very important if you want to run a successful business in Nigeria’s environment.

About the author

Onamakinde Dare Daniel is a highly motivated accountant with knowledge in Accounting, Taxation, Management, Audit, Costing and Research. He is keen on tax matters due to its ever dynamic nature.

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