How to Start an Online Business in Nigeria (10 practical steps)

Start an Online Business in Nigeria

If you’re looking to start an online business in Nigeria, this article is ultimate guide for entrepreneurs who desire to make a living online.

Starting an Online Business will guarantee any determined entity a financial freedom and secured future.

The economic crisis in the country couple with global Coronavirus pandemic is an eye-opener. Many company businesses shut down to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Some other companies folded and their workers retrenched.

But none of the businesses online shut down, rather online businesses make more sales and profits as their owners and staffs have to work from home.

Internet and technological advancement have opened up a whole new lot of business opportunities.

The increasing number of Smartphone and mobile devices in circulation in Nigeria Market with the good number of internet service providers makes access to the internet very easy.

With few digital marketing strategies, you can make waves, shake the online business world and create a profitable online business.

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs are leveraging the opportunities the internet offers to make good living online, earnings six or more figures per month.

Irrespective of your location, whether you’re in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Ogun, Ekiti, or Kano, you can take the advantage of the internet potential market to make money online in Nigeria.

Online business is done the same way everywhere; the only different is the idea that is turn into a business.

A lot of people seem to have great ideas that can solve the problem of the masses but their challenge is how to turn these ideas into profitable online business enterprise.

If you find yourself in this category, the question is how can you turn your idea into a lucrative online business and start making money working from home.

In this article, I’ll walk you through every single step you’ll take to start an online business in Nigeria. I will also show you how to turn an idea into lucrative online business and start making money online.

Meanwhile, if you have no idea of business to do on the internet, I have sometimes written a list of online business Ideas in Nigeria you can start. You can check that out.

What is an online business?

Many scholars have different definitions for online business

An Online Business is simply a business that is set up, operated, managed and the services render basically over the Internet.

It can be registered or unregistered – formal or informal with all necessary legal requirements.

Online business is an e-Business, involving running part or a whole new business or part of an existing business on the internet.

An online business is however, a business you do over the online marketing channels without necessary requiring direct physical contact with your clients or customers.

The Online marketing channels can be websites, mobile phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, whatsapp and other social media platform.

All these platforms can be used to carry out a complete online business transaction without hitches.

Because you can do online business from home, it is called Business of work from home.

Even if you don’t have your own product or service, you can start an online business in Nigeria.

You can make money online selling people’s product or service on the internet with no risk involvement.

What Online Business Isn’t

  • Get-rich-quick scheme – Some people think that doing business online is a get rich quick scheme. Many online businesses have fail because of this reason.

 

  • Requires huge capital startup – Many other people think that if you don’t have huge capital, you can’t start an online business. But, I have seen an online business that is started with zero kobo. There is some category of online businesses; you can start with little or no capital.

 

  • Making money online isn’t possible – Most people think that online business isn’t profitable and so, you can’t make money doing business online. These are category of people who have quit their online business on a slightest encounter with challenge.

Benefits of running an Online Business

There are so many good side of running an online business. Some of key benefits include:

  1. Convenience  

One of major benefits of running online business is that you can work at your own convenient time from any part of the world.

It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always do your online jobs anywhere and at anytime. This is the reason why an online business is called a business of convenience.

If you have a normal paying job already, you don’t need to quit your normal job before you run an online business successfully.

You can still be earning salary from your normal job while you’re earning passive income from online.

2. Best means of Reaching a global audience

While the brick and mortar business can limit you from reaching your potential customers, running an online business will help you reach global audience who might be interested in your products or services.

To reach the global audience when running an online business is simple. With few digital marketing channels such as a website, social media page, email and mobile phone you are sure of reaching the large audience.

3. No need for real time presence

You will not necessary need to have direct physical contact with your customer to make sales and profits online.

Frankly speaking, you can be at one corner of your room running your online business and making money online

Laying emphasis again to what happened during the global lock-down to curtail the spread of Covid-19, many businesses resort to online business models.

Those businesses that were not online were shut down; they lose their sales and customers and now, they are not even sure they would be able to regain their feet back in the market.

Without having an office or any form of arrangement, you can run online business successfully; you just need to know how to start an online business.

Wherever you are, your business will always be accessible to the global audience. Once you have an internet connection; you can promote, distribute and sell your products and services on the go.

4. Low cost or no investment required

The flexibility of online business is such that you can start an online business in Nigeria with low cost or no investment.

The usually expenses incur on renting of an office or store, on product design and business registration are absolutely not costs incur in an online business. So, these saves you lots of money.

For example, you can start online business like dropshipping , affiliate marketing and image marketing in Nigeria with zero kobo.

All that is needed from you to succeed is passion, determination and persistence.

With little marketing effort, you can be making up to $100,000 or more per annum from any of these online marketing jobs.

Let’s assume you want start dropshipping, you don’t need to own a product or service.

You just need the pictures of products in hot demand from trusted supplier and the marketing channels to reach your customers.

The cost of shipping the products to your customers and every other thing can be taken care of by the manufacturing company that owns the products.

When you set up a working system, you can even shut down your computer and go anywhere you want to go or do anything else you like to do while the system makes the sales and profits for you.

So, even while you’re sleeping, you can be making passive income online.

5. Improved customer services

When you properly set up your online business, resolving customer’s queries is faster than the traditional office thing.

For instance, I prefer to chat with my bank’s customer care representative online because of their fast response than going to queue up in the bank.

Putting all the necessary online tools to work, the internet has everything it takes to improve your customer services. So, doing your business online gives you the chance to serve your customer better.

The benefits of running online business can be exhaustible. Should I continue to list them?

  • Less paper waste
  • Quick to start
  • Easy to run
  • Less time consuming
  • Run from in any part of world

…..hold it there! Let’s look at the requirements for starting an online business in Nigeria

Requirements for Starting Online Businesses in Nigeria

No farmer would want to go to the farm without first of all, gather his tools and every other thing needed for farming.

Knowing what you require to start an online business in Nigeria is a step towards successful online business.

Some of the key requirements for starting an online business include:

  1. Skills and Knowledge of the internet

When we were little kids, our parent advice us to read our books and get good grades in school so that we can get good job and secured financial life. We almost read our brain off.

But as we come of age, we discovered that while education might be good; it may not grant us opportunity to get job and secured financial life.  We need skills and knowledge combined to succeed.

Before you start an online business, you need to acquire skills and knowledge of how the internet works. Take your time to equip yourself with information about the internet.

While you might not require educational qualifications or business certificates to run a successful online business in Nigeria; you will need skills and knowledge of the internet to succeed.

Attend trainings to acquire skills on web designing and development, graphic designing, SEO, digital marketing skills, brand awareness creation and product promotion, blogging and many more depending on the online business niche you want to venture into.

2. Computer and Internet connection

The computer will include mobile device (handheld computer), Laptop, desktop and computer accessories.

The Mobile device, laptop and computer accessories are portable; you can manage your online business with them from anywhere in the world.

If you already know you need these devices to start an online business, that’s great! But you need to know also how to make use of them to carry out online business activities.

Having a computer and all the necessary computer accessories without a good internet connection is like trying to go to the market without a transportation fee.

Strong internet connection is needed for easy access to the internet. Choose the best internet service provider with a strong network signal within your location.

There are some telecommunication networks in Nigeria that will offer you plenty of data plan which you can’t even use to access the internet. Avoid such internet service providers.

3. An Office or work from home

You need an office to run your online business. But even if you don’t have an office; you can carve out one corner of your home as an office.

Most online business owners work from home. They cleared and furnish one corner of their home with standard desks and chairs for their online business.

Whether you prefer to work from your home or an actual office, you should ensure you have a little zone that is strictly set aside for your business.

You can’t be in air and manage your business online.

4. Alternative Power Supply

We have epileptic power supply in Nigeria. If you are going to be working for several hours online, you will need an alternative power supply.

You should consider getting laptops and mobile devices with very high battery power so that they last for several hours.

With the constant power shortage in Nigeria, you will need to buy a personal generator set and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) as an alternative power supply for your online business.

Charge your device to the fullest at every point in time and have a backup to keep your devices alive.

 

Starting an online business in Nigeria

Starting an online business involves turning an idea that can solve the problem of the people into an online business – making money online fulltime or part-time from it.

No idea is a bad one but what matters are the steps to conversion of this idea to online business. You need to be innovative and technical for you to be able to achieve this.

When you can’t come up with an idea, you can leverage on an already established brands online to start an online business. This is one good thing about an online business.

Take for instance; you can set up an online store in Nigeria by signing up with established brands like jumia Nigeria, Konga and many others for free.

Again, you can register with establish web hosting companies like Hostgator, Siteground, and many more to start a webhosting reselling business in Nigeria.

There are many affiliate marketing companies seeking for affiliate partners. Companies like Jumia, Konga, Clickbank, Amazon, bluehost and many others offer Affiliate marketing program. So, you can sign up with any of them for free and start up affiliate marketing business in Nigeria

Some entrepreneurs in Nigeria have started online business; many others have taken their businesses to the web because that’s the trend we are in.

If you want to follow the trend you need to know how to start an online business in Nigeria.

 

Steps To Start an Online Business in Nigeria

Starting online business in Nigeria is simple compare to the traditional setting up of business.

Here are the steps to start an online business in Nigeria:

  1. Carryout Market Research
  2. Choose a Business to Start Online
  3. Carve a business niche
  4. Draft  Business Plan
  5. Research Your Target Audience
  6. Register Your Business
  7. Set up a Business Website
  8. Choose a business bank account
  9. Create  Marketing/Sales Strategies
  10. Promote your Online Business
  11. Build Customer Relationship to Increase Conversion

Let us explore the steps in detail …………

1.     Carryout Market Research

Carrying out a market research as the first step to start an online business will open you up to a lot of market problems you need to solve.

You might brain storm an idea you think can solve the problem of the masses but after your market research you will discover you can’t get this problem solve through online means.

Market research will help you to know what solution already exist in the market for a particular problem and where you can come in.

The information gather during your market research will help you to know:

  • best idea that can solve a particular problem
  • How to solve the problem (i.e. if this idea that can solve a particular problem is convertible to a lucrative online business)
  • People affected by the problem (their age limit, income level, lifestyle etc.)
  • Your Competitors (i.e. similar companies finding solutions to this particular problem)
  • how to get Capital require to solve the problem

Carrying out Market research will help you to get a clear knowledge of the online business choice you are making; this in turn will help you overcome a future challenges in the business.

2.     Choose a Business to Start Online

Now that you have done your market research, the next step is to choose a business to start online.

Assuming that during your market research, you discover list of ideas that can solve the problem of the masses and these ideas are potential online business ideas.

Which among these ideas do you choose to start as a business online? This is a puzzle you need to resolve correctly.

To help you solve this puzzle, you need to consider;

  • Your GOALS
  • What you have PASSION for
  • The level of time you’re willing to put in for the business
  • The skills you have
  • Your willingness to learn in the business
  • How long you can wait for the returns to manifest.

When choosing a business to start online, choose wisely. Follow your passion! Follow your goals!!

That other people record success in a business does not guarantee that when you do the same business, you’ll share the same success story.

3.     Carve a business niche

Having chosen a business to start online, the next thing is to carve out a niche on industry you wish to deal on.

This is necessary as it will help you to narrow your business down to a more specific target market and audience.

It will also give you opportunity to become authority in your chosen industry.

You will do better if you focus on specific niche of business rather than to become jack of all trade.

For instance; if you’re into fashion and designing, you’ll do excellently better if you only focus on selling of ladies’ and women’s fashion, which is a big niche on its own.

However if you are going into a niche like Online Courier Service, you can  include online transportation service to it since all have to do with conveying goods and people from one place to another.

Some industries you can carve out a niche from include:

  • Small business industry
  • Travelers’ Agency industry
  • Entertainment industry
  • News industry
  • Fashion and designing industry
  • Graphic designing industry
  • Internet marketing/SEO industry
  • Ecommerce business
  • Sports and Game website and many more…

4.     Draft a Business Plan

Drafting a business plan for your choice of online business is like laying a foundation for a building.

A business plan has crucial role to play in the success of your business

A business plan will provide a road map of where you are taking your chosen online business to.

It gives the schedule and strategies you will adapt to success in the business.

It shows how the business would kick off and be run while paying attention to all factors that will support or affect each decision to be made on the course doing the business.

With your business plan; you can attract investors, seek bank’s loan or get sponsorship for your project

5.     Research Your Target Audience

Audience targeting is the use of consumer data including interests, habits, demographics, what consumers are actively researching, or how they have interacted with your business to identify your customers

Researching your target audience will help you to reach people browsing your websites, using your apps, or watching your videos online.

It is not everybody on the web that will buy your products or services.

This is reason why need to research your potential customers to save you from wasting your time and marketing efforts on those who don’t need your products or services

To research your target audience, you need tool for this task.

Facebook audience insight and Google analytics tool are good tools that will help determine who are likely going to be your potential customers.

When you’re doing business online, you can’t be sure you’re talking to your potential customers without targeting.

So, instead of wasting your time trying to win the interest of wrong audience, you’ll be excelling with your penitential customers when you target.

6.     Register Your Business

There are a lot of online businesses that are not registered. Yes, I know.

Registering your business with appropriate government authority shows you’re licensed to run such an online venture and you are not breaking any local laws; especially trying to covertly evade tax payments

Again, if you leave your business unregistered for a period of time, it could eventually be label as an illegal business by your customers and everything you’ve worked for will be shattered.

Hence, it is advisable for anyone who has made a choice of online business to immediately register the business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria.

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria is the governmental body that is responsible for registration of business in Nigeria.

Physical appearance is not even needed as all registration can be done online in four steps:

  • Visit the official CAC website at services.cac.gov.ng
  • Search for a business name to register
  • Pre-incorporation

This is the main registration process of your business with the Name Availability Code.

  • Finally,  return to check for any change in the portfolio of your registered business

Look! If you want to have a legal liability protection of your business, you must register your business. Otherwise, someone else can register it and take over from you a brand that has taken you years to build.

Moreover, you will need your business certificate of registration for KYC verification during online payment gateway integration in your website.

You will also need it to verify your accounts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter if you intend to going into B2B.

Companies doing business with you on the internet would want to be sure your brand is licensed and reputable before accepting your partnership.

7.     Set up a Business Website

When starting an online business in Nigeria, you’ll need a website. This website can be your own or a third-party website.

You can use both the third-party website and your own website to do a business on the internet depending on your goals and the nature of your online business.

The combination of the two will give you a better result.

But before we discuss this further, let’s look at what a website is and the cost of setting up a website.

        What is a website?

A website is a platform on the internet that contains information that can be accessed through a computer, mobile phone or any related digital device.

This platform can be used to display products and service of a company; find and connect with prospects from any part of the world.

According to InternetStatLive report of total number of website online, over 1.7 billion websites have been launched between the years 2000 and 2020, and they all serve different purposes.

Base on functions and design, there are different types of websites you must have come across. Their numbers can be quite intimidating.

But what is most crucial is choosing a type of website that can serve your business better and help your realize your business goals and objectives.

What is the cost of setting up a business website?

The cost of building and designing a business website varies.

Most big organization, companies, banks and government agencies’ websites may cost up to N3.5million Naira.

So, the cost of building a website will depend on the size and nature of the business.

If you are starting a small business website, you can get this kind of website for as low as N20,000 as a beginner.

Surprisingly, you can also create a website for free using Blogger, WordPress.com and many more.

However, there are some bad sides of using a free website for your online business.

So, I discourage the option of using a free website for reasons which include:

  • Lack of full control of your website: A free website is a sub-domain of a top-level domain. The host owns the top-level domain. So, since the website is hosted as a sub-domain, you can’t have full control of the website. Once you don’t have a control over the website, you will find it difficult to edit, customize and monetize the website.
  •  Unprofessional URL:  The url of a free website usually looks like https://smallbusiness.blogspot.com instead of https://smallbusines.com, http://onlinebusiness.wordpress.com instead of http://onlinebusiness.com. These URLs look unprofessional. Anybody seeing it will know that you’re not yet ready for business.
  • URL hurts Search Engine Ranking: The long URL of a free website hurts search engine ranking. It’s not a good SEO practice to use a long URL.
  • Host’s shutdown and your website get down: Once the host shuts down, your business is down. Free host owes you no apology for whatever decision they made bring upon your business.

All things being equal, you need to get a professional website to start an online business in Nigeria. This is only sure way to have full control over your online business and investment on the net.

Our team offer the best website development and designing for online business startup, you can hire us to build your website for your online business in Nigeria or any part of world

How to set up your own website

It’s important you know how to set up website now that you’re learning how to start an online business in Nigeria.

The steps in creating a website from scratch include:

  1. Choose a domain name
  2. Register your domain name
  3. Host your website
  4. Install content management software ( e.g. WordPress )
  5. Customize your website
  6. Add important plugins
  7. Create your website’s relevant pages
  8. Post or upload content to your website
  9. Link and share your website on social media
  10. Promote your website

Once you set up your business website, you can begin to display your products and services on the web and use social media and other digital marketing channel to promote the business.

Using a third-party website for your online business

Third-party websites can also be used to do an online business in Nigeria.

Third-party websites in this category include e-Commerce website, Affiliate marketing Networks, Dropshipping Websites, Social Media, Freelancing websites, Search Engines, and many more.

Examples of e-Commerce websites include Amazon, Jumia, Konga, jiji and many more.

Examples of social media include Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and many more.

Examples of search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Duckduckgo and many more

Examples of freelancing networks include Freelancer, Fiverr, UpWork and many more

You can use any of these third-party websites to start an online business; it depends on the nature of the online business and your goals.

In fact, you can do business on the third-party website successfully without having to create your own website.

But it is important you have your own dedicated website if you are serious about making money online.

8.     Choose a Business Bank Account

After setting up your business website, the next thing to do is to choose a bank account to open for your online business.

While you open a corporate account for your business, you need to choose the right bank.

The right choice of bank is necessary for the success of your online business.

Consider opening an account with a bank that has:

  • A strong online presence,
  • Quick banking services
  • A good online payment gateway for easy integration into your website.

Some merchants only accept direct bank payments for their products and services but integrating online payment platform into your website makes payment easier and less stressful; this in turn increase conversion.

Majority of banks in Nigeria offer internet banking but their banking functionalities vary.

Which Bank Account is best for your online business? 

The following banks in Nigeria are known for offering very sophisticated online banking platforms:

  • GTbank
  • United Bank of Africa (UBA)
  • Access Bank
  • Firstbank

Apart from the regular online Banking, they offer iOS and Android apps making banking possible on the go.

9.     Adopt Online Marketing Strategies to attract customers

After setting up a professional looking business website, the hard nut to crack is how to get your potential customers to know about your brand, products or services.

A lot of companies spend thousands of dollars trying to attract customers.

Online marketing is the use of web-based /digital channels to attract potential customers to your brand, products, or services.

To reach your potential customers or to help them find your website, you need to adopt the right online marketing strategies.

With the right online marketing strategies, you’ll target the right people, increase conversion rate or make more sales.

What are the right online marketing strategies you can adopt to attract potential customers to your website?

They include:

  1. Brand awareness creation
  2. Mobile marketing
  3. Email marketing – Money is in the list
  4. Blogging/content marketing
  5. Pay per click (PPC)
  6. Social media marketing
  7. Traditional advertising
  8. Search engine marketing
  9. Affiliate marketing program
  10. Referral program

 How do you adopt these online marketing strategies to attract potential customer to your website and make them buy your products or sigh up for your services?

The First step is to create your brand awareness

Brand awareness is the extent to which your potential customers can recognize your brand and correctly associated it with your products or services.

In creating your brand awareness, you are introducing your new brand to the market so that your potential customer can recognize it anytime, anywhere and correctly associate with your product or services.

At this point, your interest will be – to reach as much audience as you can.

So, attract EVERY USERS at this stage, most especially those who don’t know that your business exists and create as much awareness as your brand needs.

You can deploy social media, a blog, Search engine marketing (SEM) or pay per click (PPC) ads, traditional advertising and content marketing, publishing valuable articles (related to your brand) that can solve the problems the masses are facing.

Search engine marketing (SEM) will increase the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Each visitor visiting your website in turns incrementally improves your website’s rankings in organic search results.

Second step is to engage your audience via email and mobile marketing

To engage your audience via email, you need to create a contact form for email and phone number sign-ups; call to action messages and possibly newsletter.

If you want to achieve this, you have to offer your audience freebie in exchange for their email addresses and phone number which you will later used in sending them mails.

The freebies to offer include an informative e-book, your newsletter, shopping vouches and many more.

You can also engage your customers via your YouTube channel and social media pages and redirected to your website.

The third step is to teach/educate your audience via webinar, Youtube video, email and mobile marketing

Now that you have gathered the email address and phone numbers of your loyal audience, there are some of them that have been asking questions and commenting on your website, trying to know more about your brand and business. You need to educate them.

These sets of audience are likely your prospects who will later be converted sales leads or customers.

Prepare multiple campaigns and content write up which can teach the audience about your brand and business – what products or services you have that can affect their life positively.

They will be very much interested in your offers having proved to be loyal to your cause.

Schedule an appropriate time to send them an engaging sales copy using tools like Mailchimp, AWeber, GetResponse and so on.

The fourth/ final step is to convert

Open your products or services for sales and sign up.

Online Payment system is already integrated into website for fast transactions.

Customers who are willing and in dare need of your products or services can buy or sign up for it.

Repeat the fourth-step process again for more conversions or sales

10.  Build Customer loyalty

Customers are king. You need to build customer relationship and loyalty for repeated sales.

The best way to do this is to offer your core customers a rewarding system such as:

  1. Discount on a next purchase
  2. Bonus on next purchase (buy 6 and get 1 free)
  3. Earn commission on refer a friend program
  4. Earn commission on Affiliate marketing program

On purchase, make the offer known and encourage them to partake.

Send a follow up email or SMS to your core customers to seek their view about your new brand, product or service.

Repeat the process over and over again starting from brand awareness creation to building customer loyalty.

With time, you will experience a better Return on Investment (ROI).

Conclusion

In CONCLUSION, starting an online business is a sure way to earn financial freedom

I want to believe you’ve learnt how to start to an online business in Nigeria following the 10 steps above.

You can do an online business profitable if apply all the techniques and strategies I mention in this article.

There is no online business you cannot do successfully if you implement our strategies.

You need to determine, patient and passionate about your online business

FAQs

Why do online business startups fail?

Online Businesses crash because they fail to adopt the right online marketing strategies. A thorough marketing must follow an online business if it must be successful. Some other reasons why online business startup fails include:

  • Lack of preparedness
  • No plan.
  • Hiring wrong person.
  • Impatient.
  • Working with inexperience team.

How profitable is starting an online business?

Online business is generally a profitable business that can bring more money. It can be a huge source of income, the more audience you reach, the more money you can make. With as little as $50 (N20, 800), you can start an online business and be making more than six figures a year.

There are so many people who make money doing business online. Examples are Linda Ikeji, Mark Zuckerberg, Dom Wells, Steve Rendell, Stuart Walker, Tung Tran, Alistair Gill, Melanie Duncan and many others.

However, online business is not necessarily a magical tree that produces money. You have patient and dedicated to succeed in online business.

What online business can I start?

Some online business you can start and make money include:

It all depends on how much you have as your capital.

What online business can I start with no money?

Some of the internet business you can start with no money include:

  • Freelance writing
  • Graphic designing
  • Business Coaching
  • Social media consulting
  • Online tutoring
  • Blogging

If you have question(s) or comment(s) on how to start an online business in Nigeria, you can ask using our comment box below or visit our question and answer page to start a new trending post. Professional and successful online business owners are here to assist you.

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