How to Start an Online Business in Nigeria (2022): An Ultimate Guide

Start an Online Business

If it’s your wish to learn how to start an online business in Nigeria, whether you’re in Lagos, Ibadan, Ogun, or Abuja, irrespective of your location, the first thing to do is to have an idea of what profitable business you can do.

This is very easy.

We all have one idea or the other that can solve some problems in other people’s life.

So, the question is how can you turn your own idea into a profitable online business?

That is what this discussion is all about.

You can try any of these easy online businesses if you don’t have any idea yet.

I want to show you how to start an online business in Nigeria.

Most authors only touch on how to register a domain and host a business website, which is one side of the matter and overlooks the other major part.

Meanwhile, online business goes beyond having a website and several business pages on social media.

It’s more about customer satisfaction or a better way to reach, convert and retain customers using digital marketing strategies.

For this reason, it is all a waste of time if you have a website and millions of followers on Facebook but can’t convert a single audience.

In this post, you will learn the difference.

But first of all, let me simplify how a life-changing idea can metamorphose into a business on the internet.

How an idea turns into a business

As power outages continue to be a major challenge facing entrepreneurs in Nigeria, you’ll have almost half of the population buying into your idea if it provides a good alternative.

There are several alternatives in the market, including the power generating sets that run on gas, petrol, and diesel.

But because most people still can’t afford to fuel their generators to the best of their needs, a completely new different product will shake the market.

That gives you the idea of what business you want to do, who needs the business, and the viability of the business in the market.

You might wish to manufacture the products.

But when you look at the cost and realize that setting up a factory will cost you more, then you can decide to partner with the manufacturer as a marketer.

So, that doesn’t mean your idea is dead if you opt for marketing the product.

In fact, it’s much alive as you can still help the people solve the power problem without incurring too many costs.

There are online business models that can help you develop whatever your business idea is without spending a single Kobo.

It can give you the opportunity to partner with other companies in your chosen industry.

One thing is to have an idea of what business to do and the other is to know how to find customers and make them buy from you.

What matters about learning how to start an online business in Nigeria is knowing how to offer relevant products to your customers at the right time.

With no stress, the internet can help you solve all the related issues if you know what to do.

A few years back, you might need to rent or build a store to execute your business idea.

But nowadays, things have really changed.

The internet will take care of the whole of your business development strategies which include:

  • What to do
  • How to do what you want to do
  • Who needs what you want to do
  • Where to do what you want to do
  • And what value do you want to bring by doing what you want to do

You need a space, products, promotion, marketing, sales, and distribution channels, all of which you can get virtually on the web.

You can do your business successfully without leaving the corners of your room.

As a result of this, you don’t need much capital to start your business anymore.

In fact, marketing and selling your products can be a click away if you know how to start a profitable online business in Nigeria.

How an idea turns into a business

Experts have different meanings for online business.

An online business is simply an e-Business, which is doing a part or whole of your existing or new business on the internet.

An online business, however, is a business you do over a digital marketing channel without necessarily requiring direct physical contact with your customers.

A digital marketing channel can be a website, social media platform, mobile phone, or email, to mention but a few.

All these platforms can be used to complete a transaction online.

Because you can do an online business from home, even on the go, it is called a business of convenience.

Sometimes, you don’t need to have your own product or service before you can start an online business.

You can make a lot of money selling someone else’s product or service on the internet with no or limited risks to worry about.

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

Characteristics of online business

The following are the characteristics of an online business:

  • Quick to start: You don’t need rigorous training or much skill to start an online business in Nigeria. You can simply start the business the moment you’re ready without many resources.
  • Low cost: Doing your business online gives you the chance to do a business with no or low cost on product design, business registration, and renting an office or store.
  • Easy to run: You determine what task to take when to take it, and how long it will take in order for you to have time for other things that matter to your life.

Benefits of online business

You can get numerous benefits from doing your business on the internet.

And these include:

No new experience is required

To start an online business, you don’t need to quit your current job.
While your online business serves as a side-hustle business, your experience, skills, and connections at your current place of work can be an added advantage to growing your online business very fast.

If you start now, the business might become an empire before you retire.

Then, it will become your source of passive income.

Flexible investment

You may not need capital to do an online business in Nigeria. But if you can dedicate time and effort, you’ll definitely excel.

For example, you need no capital to go into any of these online businesses in Nigeria:

  1. Influencer marketing;
  2. Dropshipping or;
  3. Affiliate marketing.

You can make up to $100,000 per annum in any of the three online marketing jobs.

You can deal with any physical or virtual (digital) product without any cost.

No need to spend thousands of naira in renting a store or an office and no need to buy the products you want to sell.

In fact, the cost of shipping the products to your customers can even be taken care of by the company that owns the products.

All these can be done at the convenience of your bedroom.

It will be tiresome to sit down all day at your computer desk, be on the internet, and market your stuff.

You only need a small time and a few marketing efforts to make whatever business you want to do more lucrative.

And when everything is set, you can shut down your system and go anywhere you want to go or do anything else you like to do.

While your system is off, your business is ongoing and you’re making your money passively.

That’s an online business for you!

No real-time presence required

You can be in your room and be making your six-figure income.

Take for instance during the ongoing global lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many businesses resolved to online business models.

Those who didn’t incorporate online business into their business had to shut down and completely lose their sales and customers to the others during the economic lockdown.

Your business is set without having an office or meeting with your customers face-to-face if you know how to start an online business in Nigeria.

Wherever you are, your business is live in as much as you have the internet connection. Anyone in need of your product or service will definitely find you.

You can take advantage of internet technology to market, promote, advertise, distribute and sell your products or services on the go!

It’s a passive way to make money

Unlike the stocks market where you monitor the rise and fall of one currency against the other and have your heart beat so fast, you can start a profitable online business at your pace.

It’s a business you do upfront and reap its profit when you’re sleeping.

Let’s say you’re a farmer, your major work finishes immediately after you bury a seed. The germination which takes place afterward isn’t within your power.

Your own is to plant (make efforts) on good farmland (profitable niche), and the seed will grow naturally.

You’ll smile if you return to your farm a few days later and see some beautiful leaves coming out of the soil.

That’s exactly what online business is all about.

It’s passive!

Online business models

There are three basic models for starting an online business in Nigeria. And you have the liberty to opt for the one that fits your strength:

1. Sell a physical product online
2. Sell a service online
3. Sell a digital information product

Without prejudice, you can make a ton of fortune in any of the models you choose. What matters is your interest and strength.

Requirements for doing online business

In fact, to start an online business is so easy that you need no educational qualifications or business certificates.

Although you’ll meet some challenges on your way to test your strength and shape your success.

So, that shouldn’t be a barrier.

If you don’t expect that, you can’t succeed online.

While you’re starting an online business for the first time, you need to exhibit some professional qualities.

Take your time to familiarize yourself with the system and know how it can work for you.

All it takes is the time to cultivate your farm, plant, weed, do some irrigation if necessary, and then harvest.

That’s not the end.

If your crops come out fine, you can just place them on the market and go to bed.

Good products will definitely attract prospects. You can be sleeping while your digits count.

What online business isn’t

By now, you should’ve started thinking of what online business ideas to choose!

Or if you have one already and someone says “YOU CAN’T DO IT!”

How would you feel?

For this reason, it’s better we clear some myths about online business.

Some people will tell you:

You need a lot of startup capital

If you aren’t another Bill Gate or Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll feel like, “man, online business is not for me!”.

Don’t be discouraged, your level of finance is not a barrier.

That doesn’t mean people don’t invest money in the business as much as they spend time and effort.

The point is you have no excuse not to do online business if you’re not rich.

Every business requires a different investment capacity.

If you can’t afford to spend much to promote your business using Google PPC Ads, you have the privilege to use free marketing resources or tools like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to promote your business online.

Even when you need to outsource a task to an expert, you can do that based on your budget.

All this boils down to the fact that you need not much capital to start an online business.

Making money online is impossible

Most people that think online business isn’t profitable are those that quit after facing a few challenges.

Mind you, the war you don’t see its end may seem to be an endless battle.

The truth is selling ordinary popcorn at the cinema and making a profit may seem to be impossible if you’re not there when there is a show.

That suggests, that if you want your online business to be successful, you’ve to be passionate about it.

If your prospects need some time before they can trust you, don’t be discouraged.

Exercise some patience, work harder and use the moment to prove your worth and credibility.

Or else, you can’t do an online business.

How to start an online business in Nigeria

Learning how to do online business in Nigeria is very simple… In fact, it doesn’t take fewer development strategies as required in the traditional setting.

So, here are the vital steps you need to take before you can do a profitable online business in Nigeria:

  1. Choose a business
  2. Carve a niche
  3. Define your target audience
  4. Create a brand identity
  5. Have the technical know-how
  6. Register your business with CAC
  7. Set up a business website

Now in full, get the gist one after the other.

Choose a business

You can easily decide to do any business you have PASSION for. But when it comes to PROFIT, your passion might not bring profit.

So, you have to stick to your GOALS and choose your business WISELY.

Because other people record SUCCESS in a business is not a guarantee that when you do the same business, you’ll share the same STORY.
During your feasibility study, consider the viability of the idea before choosing it.

Look at all the circumstances that surround the business and see if it really worth it.

Carve a niche

The next thing to do after choosing a business is to carve a niche for yourself in the industry.

That will help you narrow your business down to a more specific market and target audience.

Assuming you’re a fashion enthusiast, you can’t just be selling all sorts of products if you want big sales.

You’ll do extremely better if you only focus on women’s fashion, which is a big niche on its own.

But at least, you’ll know that you’re dealing with a specific group of people, not all and sundries.

Define your target audience

Audience targeting is the use of consumer data including demographics, interests, and persona to determine your customers.

You need a tool for this task and thanks to Facebook and Google.

You can use the Facebook audience insights tool or Google Analytics to determine who are likely going to be your potential customers.

When you’re on the world wide web, you can’t be sure you’re talking to the right audience without targeting.

This will save you from wasting your time and marketing efforts on those who don’t need your products.

So, you have to go to the right place, talk to the right person and use the right message at the right time.

Create a brand identity

Create a Brand Identity

Your brand identity is a strategy to make the people you are targeting know you are targeting them.

It would be stressful to start telling everyone what business you’re into.

But by aligning your brand with the interests of your target customers, those who need to know about your brand will know.

If your brand identity corroborates with your business goals, your brand elements will do all the talking.

The theme of your website and social media pages must reflect your business information including your brand name, objectives, culture, values, position, and so on.

Have the technical know-how

You don’t have to be an expert in any business before you can do it online.

The model gives you the chance to learn about the business and also work with professionals or freelancers.

What is most important is your understanding of the written and unwritten information about the business or knowing what is required to develop the idea.

If there is something you don’t know, that calls for the need to learn and get the basic skills required to carry out the project.

You need to be sure you have all it takes to do the business, not just your passion and your financial capability.

Assuming you want to go into sales of products, you need to be sure your suppliers are reliable. If it’s a production you want, ensure all the resources and technical skills required are readily available.

Then what about your target customers?

You need to study your prospects and consider their persona while developing your online business.

Don’t go into any business until you’re able to determine all that matters to the success of the business.

Register your business with CAC

Don’t forget, that we all want to be extra careful while doing business online. So, don’t think your customers don’t have such a concern.

But when they find out your business is registered with the appropriate unit of the government, there will be nothing to worry about.

The moment you decide on the kind of business you want to do, the next thing to do is to register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The website you launched or the social media account you opened in your business name is not enough to make you the legitimate owner of the business.

You must register your business to get its legal liability protection. Otherwise, someone can hijack the brand from you.

You also need your business certificate of registration to verify your accounts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

This is very important if you intend to go into B2B.

Other businesses need to be sure your brand is licensed, credible and reputable before doing business with you on the internet.

Set up a business website

Business website online business

Starting an online business in Nigeria requires the use of a website, which can be your own or a third-party website.

Depending on your goals, you can use both your website and third-party websites to do a business on the internet.

The combination of the two will give you optimum results. There is going to be a further discussion on that approach.

But first of all, let’s look at what a website is and the cost of getting one.

What is a website?

A website is any platform that can be accessed via a computer, mobile phone or any related digital device to send or receive information using the internet.

It can be used to showcase a business, find, target, and connect with prospects from any part of the world.

According to InternetStatLive,
Over 1.7 billion websites have been launched between the years 2000 and 2020, and they all serve different purposes. InternetStatLive

Based on different designs and functions, the types of websites you come across can be overwhelming.

So, what is most important is choosing the type that can be used to present your business and realize your goals.

Cost to build a website

The cost of building and designing a business website varies. The types used by government agencies, banks and big organizations may cost up to N3m.

The cost depends on the functions and size of the business.

If you’re want to start a small business, you can get a website for as low as N15,000 for a start.

In fact, you can even create a free website using Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress.com and so.

But the bad news is you can’t have full control over a free website.

So, I discourage the free option for reasons which include:

  • Bear the cross of the host: You’re likely going to face the challenge of a long domain name for using a free website because the host might add its brand to your domain name. Consequently, your URLs will be truncated on search engine result pages (SERP). The URL of a free website may look like http://starcity.blogger.com instead of http://starcity.com. Meanwhile, it’s not a good SEO practice to use a long URL.
  • Limited control: A free website is a sub-domain of the host. Once you don’t have full control over the website, tweaking, branding, customizing, and monetizing the website will be difficult.
  • Go down with the host: If the host shuts down, your business is over. The free host owes you no apology for whatever damages her decision brings upon your business.

Against all the odds, you need to get a professional website to do an online business in Nigeria.

Only in that way, you can have full access and control over your investment on the web.

How to set up your own website 

In your quest to know how to start an online business in Nigeria, it’s key you understand how to set up your business website.

The steps involved in creating a website from scratch include:

  1. Get a domain name
  2. Register your domain name
  3. Host your domain name
  4. Install WordPress on your host account
  5. Install a WordPress theme
  6. Customize your website
  7. Add necessary plugins
  8. Create relevant pages
  9. Link to social media
  10. Share your page on social media

Read our complete guide on how to create a website to learn how to do it yourself.

Once you have set up your business website, other things follow with ease.

You can share your business information, showcase the products and services your business offers on the web, and use social media to promote the business.

Use a third-party website

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

Most websites found in this category are e-Commerce, Affiliate Networks, Dropshipping Websites, Social Media, Search Engines, Freelancing websites, and so on.

Examples of e-Commerce websites
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Jumia
  • Konga
Examples of social media
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
Examples of search engines
  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Yandex
Examples of freelancing networks
  • Freelancer
  • UpWork
  • Fiverr

You can use any of the third-party websites to start an online business, depending on your goals.

In fact, you can successfully do business on them without having to create your own dedicated website.

But to fully take advantage of the online business model, it’s very important you have your own website and interlink it with your business pages on third-party websites.

Choose the right bank for your online business

It’s important to have a corporate account with the right bank if you want to present your online business to customers as a reputable firm.

But as far as doing an online business is concerned in Nigeria, you can’t just walk up to any bank.

There are things you need to consider before choosing a bank for your business.

For example, you need an effective online banking system that can handle all sorts of payments on your website.

Since no bank is perfect, choosing the right bank will fasttrack receiving payments from both your local and foreign customers.

To make sure the process is perfectly done, try to avoid these common banking mistakes.

FAQ

  1. How much does it cost to build a website for a small business in Nigeria?

    In terms of designs and functions, the cost of building a website for a small business in Nigeria varies. But for a start, you can still get a website for your small business for as low as N15, 000 in Nigeria.

  2. Is it hard to create a website?

    It’s not hard to create a website at all. WordPress makes it very easy for anyone to create a responsive website from scratch without coding skills.

  3. Which online business is profitable in Nigeria?

    Affiliate marketing is the most profitable online business in Nigeria. And because health and beauty products sell very fast, most Nigerian affiliate marketers settle for them.

  4. How can I make money online fast in Nigeria?

    To make money online fast in Nigeria, you have to operate a blog on your website and integrate YouTube into your marketing strategies. This will enable you to do B2B and make a lot of money by sending leads from your blog and YouTube page to other businesses.

Conclusion

It’s my belief that your wish to know how to start an online business in Nigeria has been fulfilled with this ultimate guide.

We discussed eight good strategic steps to take following your decision to learn how to start a profitable online business in Nigeria.

If there is any area you don’t understand on the topic, feel free to use our services or enroll in the course.

You can equally reach out to us using the WhatsApp icon on your screen.

We’re always ready to listen to your calls or comments

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