How to start a profitable online business in nigeria

How to Start an Online Business in Nigeria & Succeed in 2021

If it’s your wish to learn how to start an online business in Nigeria, the first thing to do is to have an idea of what profitable business you can do from home.

Irrespective of your location, online business is done the same way everywhere.

The only difference is that there are numerous unique business ideas done offline, which most people don’t know how to do online.

You can make money online as a student or professional doing these jobs.

This is also a list of online businesses you can do in Nigeria.

Think of any lucrative business you can do in Nigeria as a side hustle and use this guide to learn how to start the business online.

We all have different ideas that can solve some problems in other people’s life. And if we turn that into a business, we can make a lot of money.

The question is how can you turn your idea into a lucrative online business and start making money working at the convenience of your home?

We also want to know what are the steps to start an online business?

So, if you have a business but don’t know how to do it on the internet, relax.

This guide will walk you through how to start a small online business and make money working from home.

Most authors treating this subject only addressed the steps to create a successful business website.

The major aspect which includes the strategies to succeed in an online business was ignored.

It’s true you need a responsive website to start an online business in Nigeria. And only that can’t make you succeed.

We can’t overlook the strategies to find, engage and retain customers while discussing how to start online business in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, learning how to start online business from home goes beyond having a website and leveraging social media.

Online business, however, is more of how to do a business on the web.

So, without wasting your time, this discussion is incomplete without introducing digital marketing to you.

That aspect will teach you how to reach, engage, convert, retain and re-target your core customers on the internet.

Assuming you have an audience who is not willing to buy what you sell, I bet you don’t know why.

It’s possible you aren’t targeting the right audience. And when that happens, there is a solution.

Let’s critically look at how a life changing idea can become a lucrative business on the internet.

How to turn your idea into a business

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

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

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

The point is you must be able to identify the problem you want to solve before creating an idea.

That gives you the idea of what business you want to do, who needs the business and how viable is 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 other manufacturer and be a marketer.

So, opting for marketing other people’s products doesn’t mean your idea is dead!

In fact, your idea is much alive because you can still help the people solve the power problem by recommending relevant products to them.

The idea can also be to help people identify cheap and affordable power products.

By so doing, you’re not going to incur too much cost on yourself. 

Whatever your business idea is, there are online business models to help you kickstart a business without spending a single Kobo.

The models can give you the opportunity to partner with other companies that are already established in your chosen industry.

So, one thing is to have a lucrative online business idea and the other is knowing how to develop the idea and attract patrons.

With no stress, the internet can help you.

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 your whole 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 needed a space, products, promotion, marketing, sales and distribution channels, all which you could virtually get on the web now.

That means you can successfully do any business online without leaving the corners of your room.

Hence, you don’t need much capital to start your business any more.

Marketing and selling your products can happen in a click away if you know how to start a profitable online business.

What is online business?

Experts have different meanings for online business.

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.

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

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 with little or no risks to worry about.

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 much 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, renting an office or store.
  • Easy to run: You are the one to 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. And that makes you your own boss.

Benefits of online business

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

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 grow 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 the following online businesses in Nigeria:

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

You can make up to $100,000 per annum selling 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 stock your inventory.

In fact, the cost of shipping the products to your customers can 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 marketing your stuff.

Your sales and marketing effort can be automated.

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.

So, you need only a small time and few marketing effort to make whatever business you want to do successful.

That’s 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 2020 global lockdowns, 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 others.

Your business is set without having an office or meeting with your customers face-to-face.

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 the 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 a currency against the other, 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 afterwards isn’t within your power.

Your own is to plant (make efforts) on a 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!

What are online business models

There are three basic models for starting an online business from home. 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.

In business, if you don’t know your threats and weakness, you can’t succeed online.

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

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

Starting an online business is like becoming a farmer. All it takes to succeed as a farmer is the time to cultivate your farmland, 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 or services will definitely attract prospects online. Having done all the needful, 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. If you have one 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 which can discourage you.

So, what are the myths of online business?

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 finance incapability is not a barrier.

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

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

Every business requires different investment capacity.

If you can’t afford to spend much to promote your business using Google pay per click (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 it based on your budget.

All this boils down to the fact that you don’t need 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 profit may seem to be impossible if you’re not there when there is a show.

That suggests, if you want your online business to be successful, you have 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

The following are the 9 basic steps to start an 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
  8. Use a sales funnel strategy
  9. Choose the right bank for your online business

Now let’s look at what are the steps to start an online business and succeed.

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 is really worth it.

Carve a niche

The next thing to do after choosing a business, is to find a profitable 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 sundry.

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 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 effort 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

Your brand identity is a strategy to make 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 on 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 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, 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 online, the next thing to do is to register the business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria.

The website you launched or 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 hijacked 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

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 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.

Hence, the cost depends on the functions and size of the business.

If you 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 engines result pages (SERP). The url of a free website may look like https://starcity.blogger.com instead of https://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, to tweak, brand, customize and monetize 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 to 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.

You can hire us for the best website to start a profitable online business in Nigeria or any part of the world.

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 created 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.

Use a sales funnel strategy

Learning how to start online business from home is half-done without a sales funnel strategy.

The strategy can be used to make people that visit your website buy your products or services.

You did a lot of great work bringing people to your store to see what you sell. If you want them to buy your product and come back next time, your effort doesn’t end there.

So, what do you have to do?

You need to groom the visitors and start monitoring them from the very first day of coming across your brand till after making a purchase.

This strategy is called a sales funnel

There are numerous prospects with less engagements at the top of the funnel and less prospects with more engagements at the bottom of the funnel.

This implies that the number of your prospects will decrease down the stages of your sales funnel and what will remain at the last stage is actually going to be your loyal customer.

Sales funnels stages (Image: Credit OptinMonster)

As illustrated in the image above, there are five (5) stages of sales funnel:

  1. Community stage
  2. Crowd stage
  3. Committed stage
  4. Customer stage
  5. Core stage

This implies that your goal at each stage differs.

Your conversion goal at the community can’t be the same as your conversion level at the crowd level. So, as you go down the funnel, your prospects change.

The five stages of the sales funnel

Let’s discuss the five stages of the sales funnel in full.

STAGE 1: Community stage

ATTRACT all and sundry at the community stage, most especially those who don’t know that your business exists and create as much AWARENESS as your BRAND needs.

You can use a blog, social media, pay per click (PPC) ads or traditional advertising and keep publishing relevant posts that can solve the problems the community is facing.

STAGE 2: Crowd stage

ENGAGE those who already know that your business exists.

In order to achieve this goal, all you have to do is to create an email list by offering your audience a gift in exchange for their email addresses which can later be used in sending them mails.

For this reason, you need a landing page, contact form, call to action and email newsletter.

STATE 3: Committed stage

EDUCATE those who are committing themselves to follow your business.

This set of audiences are the ones asking questions, dropping comments and filling your forms with their email addresses.

What are you going to do with all the contact information in your email lists?

You need to prepare a series of campaigns which can teach the audience about your business – what products or services you have that can really help them move on with life.

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

So, schedule a nice time to send them an engaging sales copy.

There are also some tools for this goal.

For sending emails, you can use Optinmonster, Mailchimp and so on.

STAGE 4: Customer stage

CONVERT those who are willing to buy your products or services.

At this stage, you need to integrate an eCommerce store into your website. This can help the customers purchase whatever product or service they need on your website.

A tool for this is called Woocommerce.

STAGE 5: Core stage

At the last stage, you need to re-engage the CORE – those who have made a purchase.

The best way to do this is to encourage your core customers with a discount on a next purchase or when they help refer a friend to buy from you.

At the checkout, make the offer known to them.

You can even send a follow up email or SMS to them.

Don’t think you can start an online business and jump from the community stage to the customer stage.

You have to follow the stages and repeat the process one after the other.

Over a period of time, the conversions will be accumulated to give you a desirable ROI.

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 fast track receiving payment from both your local and foreign customers.

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

Conclusion

It’s my belief that your wish to know how to start an online business in Nigeria has been fulfilled with these nine (9) simple steps.

There is no business you want to do that can’t be done online successfully.

All you have to do is to take your time to study these techniques and apply what you learned.

They should be able to make you start your own online business and start making money from home.

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

If you want to know more about how to start online business in Nigeria, 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.

22 thoughts on “How to Start an Online Business in Nigeria & Succeed in 2021”

  1. You are right when you said,

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

    Yet, I am of the opinion we all should learn how to make the two work.

    You can work on your business at day and on your passion at night.

    Another is to create two different entity – one for each.

    Life is too short to pause your life in the hope to return to it later – you most likely will not.

    Thanks for the work you are doing, Lawal.

    I celebrate you!

  2. Mr Lawal… This is such a great post and it was very educative, i have few questions to ask you, when i do create an online private limited liability company in Nigeria, how do i go about the accounting of the transactions that would take place, and very importantly Mr Lawal, would the company need to pay taxes to the government even when it has not started making revenue?? Thank you very much for your reply in advance.

    1. You may not pay taxes if your business is not linked to any bank account in Nigeria. But if you have a bank account that is linked to your business, your taxes will be generated based on all transactions that take place on the account. Even if the transaction is personal, so far it goes through that account, tax is payable. Thank you.

      1. Thank you very much for your reply Mr Lawal… But how is it possible that the online business would not be linked to an account besides the customers would have to make payment online? Thank you for your reply in advance.

  3. Ogunmefun Fatai Olakunle

    Good Morning Mr Rahman i read your guide but i still need to understand some things very well though i wish to do the online business but i dont know how to do it as in, by register,open website and so on kindly advise or put me through.Thanks

    1. This is very simple. To create a website for your local business in Nigeria or anywhere, all you have to do is to find a reputable website hosting company, register and host your domain with them. Then buy a wordpress theme and do the installation. There is another resource that you can read to show you how the whole process is done. https://pilumdigital.com/how-to-create-a-wordpress-website-for-beginners/ Meanwhile, you can hire us to train you properly or to build a website for you. Thank you!

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