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Authentic Advice on Starting a Small Business in Nigeria

Learning from those who have been there, done that, and are still standing, is a vital part of succeeding as an entrepreneur in Nigeria.

In line with our passion for building Nigerian businesses, we asked some Nigerian entrepreneurs, “What advice do you have for aspiring and upcoming entrepreneurs?”

Here’s what they said:

1. Sincerity is the watchword here. We have observed insincerity as the number one impediment in the average Nigerian entrepreneur hence the difficulty in obtaining finance from all finance providers. Also no man is an island, partnering with likeminded individuals and companies will provide you with the relevant boost required to spur your business to the level you want it to get to and finally, a passion to succeed, hardwork and determination are paramount in all human endeavours. ~ Peter Mbama, RegCharles Finance and Capital Limited

2. Stay focused and consistent. Turn your hobby/passion and love into your everyday job. Don’t join the bandwagon; start a business only because you feel very strongly about it and you want to add value. The thought of riches alone will not pull you through the rough days. Stay connected to other entrepreneurs and learn from their mistakes. Read anything and everything because knowledge is power.~ Tobi Olanihun, CEO WOW! Connect

3. Go hard or go home! Quit your day job and face your business with everything that you have. Be ready to fail. Be ready to sacrifice. Be ready to reinvent yourself over and over again. Be ready to learn every single day. Be ready to challenge yourself. They say, an entrepreneur is someone who lives a few years of his life the way no one else would, so he can live the rest of his life the way no one else can. ~ Nkemdilim Begho, Future Software Resources

4. Find a mentor. Find someone who has really shone in their field and is doing well because success leaves clues. Don’t be afraid to ask. People really do like to give out information about their journey. A successful business requires a lot of hard work and determination. You have to cut off or cut back on things that distract you, whether it’s toxic friendships, social media or watching too much television. Face your business, read more, keep on learning and focus on your goals. ~ Rita Okoye, Majestically Rare

5. Please just start it. There will always seem to be a better time, you will always need more money, obstacles will not let up so just dive straight into it. The sooner you start, the sooner you can begin learning and improving. ~ Eniola Suley, AnyWork Services

6. My advice for those longing to start their own business is that they should get the idea out of the cooler and just start it. Secondly they should stay focused and persistent in whatever business they start. ~ Adebola Olatoyese Aroloye, Smart Plus Cedar

7. Continue to develop yourself. The moment you stop developing yourself is the moment you fail. I have also realized that good people skills are vital in any business or goal you want to achieve. You especially need to know when to listen, a skill I am still learning. You need to listen to your customer and know what they truly want and not just what you want. Although you design what you like in your own business, you still need to make sure your clients like it too. It is a service or product that they need to find value in for them to pay for it. ~ Tosin Lawson, African Things

8. It’s easier when you have a good product. Forget all the trappings and window dressing. Make sure your product or service is solid. ~ Morolayo Damilola-Shaba, MCatering Concepts

9. My advice is for [aspiring entrepreneurs] to be patient and always have a quest for knowledge by developing themselves and learning from others. An unwavering passion will go a long way in pulling you up when your chips are down. ~ Damilola Taiye, Damiam Bridals

10. Never give up. If you don’t put your all into whatever you are doing, you will regret it if the business fails. I’d also recommend seriously considering the best way to adapt your business or your idea to Nigeria. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but just make sure that it can withstand the impact of the pothole when it enters the Nigerian market.
It’s also important to manage your growth. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Great things take time. Don’t let only your ambition guide you when you are trying to get your company to where you feel it should be.
Another important thing is trust. Believing in the inherent abilities of all your team members and trusting their judgement. You can’t do everything. It’s good to know how to distribute tasks effectively. ~ Ayodeji Dabiri, Swift Digital Motions‏

11. In my opinion, all successful entrepreneurs of the past have been great OPPORTUNISTS. They are the people that are always looking around and investing in things that people will need at different points in the future. Therefore, my biggest piece of advice is that would-be entrepreneurs should be very alert and aware of their environment so that they can detect current and future gaps in the market.
Also, I strongly recommend that would-be entrepreneurs invest in products or services that have high price inelasticity (these are essential products whose demands are not readily affected by increases in prices or reductions in income). This is a way of ensuring a continuous and extremely stable revenue stream. ~ Yusuf Olanrewaju Ali, Frisch Laundry Services

12. That idea, that dream? Don’t be afraid to start small. I started this business with N3,000 frying chin-chin. Do not be afraid of small beginnings. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Don’t be afraid of hardship and don’t be afraid of failing. Be passionate about whatever it is you are doing. Trust in God, aim for excellence; one day, you will get there. ~ Ugonma Chiori, McCreamy’z Cakes

13. I have experienced the good and the bad in business. Your determination is what helps you overcome. I work because I want to reach people and touch lives. And if you want to touch lives, you will go through a lot of things that you just have to bear. Work to establish your passion and along the line, before you know it, you will have established and become a household name by what you do.
~ Mr. Folaranmi Seyi, Huramson Nigeria Limited

14. My advice to anyone who wants to start a business of their own would be this – If you have set your mind to do it – just go for it, follow your mind, eliminate those who may dissuade you and be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into it. Finally, if the business is a product that involves selling, start by doing a sample exercise to see if it will work. ~ Nina Ndubuisi, CEO Slim With Ease

15. Find a niche in the market and focus on that. Become an expert in your preferred area and become as visible as possible. I’m still working on that myself. ~ Andrea Kamara, Broad Street PR & Events International

Interested in more from Nigerian entrepreneurs? Check out our CNTV Meet the Boss series.


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Joy Ehonwa

Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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