Business in Africa can be very challenging. Business in Nigeria is particularly intimidating and successful business builders have to learn how to navigate a hostile business environment to unlock business opportunities in Nigeria.
When we surveyed entrepreneurs and business owners about their major challenges – at the top of the list was a “hostile business environment”
What is a hostile business environment? For these business owners, it’s a combination of ever-changing policies, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to talent among other challenges.
The successful business are those that are aware of these hostilities to their business and have a way of navigating the environment.
By getting a good sense of the business environment in Nigeria, you can easily navigate to unearth business opportunities while minimizing your risk in Africa’s largest market.
Here are a few things to thrive and find business opportunities in Nigeria
Understand the market
Start by understanding the market that you’re going to venture into. The Nigerian market is large and also very fragmented. You want to make sure you do a good amount of due diligence and market research before you start venturing into the new markets.
This would allow you to create a good marketing and sales strategy that you and your team can confidently execute. It will also give you a good plan that you can check on and monitor on a monthly and yearly basis.
With this research, done upfront and continuously, you will know the top business opportunities to exploit, exactly where your customers are, what your unique value proposition is, and how to get your product into the hands of your end-users in the most efficient way.
Know exactly what you bring to the market
With a good amount of market research, you should understand your addressable market, the needs in the market, your current market share, and the unique challenges and problems that your ideal customer base is facing.
This allows you to position your product or solution in an appealing way to help your customers overcome these challenges. Once you know what you’re bringing to the market in terms of a unique value proposition, you can focus and allocate resources on strategies that will bring results.
Know exactly what you bring into the market so that you can directly approach your customers and solve their problems.
Figure out where your customers are
Nigeria is a country with a population of 200 million people. Although the market seems large, one of the major challenges businesses face is the difficulty in filtering through the noise and identifying where the ideal customers exist – because not everybody has the purchasing power to purchase your solutions.
So during the due diligence phase, make sure you identify where your customers exist and where they go to look for the type of solutions that you’re trying to provide. Are they within large corporations? Do they only exist in the major cities? You want to be able to map out where your customers are.
Once you have that, you can pinpoint the ideal target base for your business opportunities and reduce the amount and effort that it takes to target these customers and.
Find partners and align incentives
To grow your business in Nigeria, you want to work with the right partners to help you hit all your revenue goals and get the highest ROI on identified business opportunities.
Depending on the stage of expansion that you’re in, you may not necessarily have all the things built out in-house to be able to hit those goals. That’s where partnerships come into play. Partners could bring a lot of leverage to your existing business – logistics, marketing, lead generation, and other essential services needed to grow.
Make sure you work with the right partners to fill in the gaps in your current operations. Once you find the right partners, make sure you align the incentives by completely understanding what these partners want and the tangible results that will keep these partners motivated.
For instance, if you are building out a sales channel, make sure the profit-sharing is mutually beneficial so that your team can stay motivated to help you hit your sales goals in the markets.
Stay connected to what’s going on to find new business opportunities in Nigeria
The Nigerian market is a developing market and things can change drastically. There are new and emerging markets that are continuously evolving, while established markets have a lot of changes in government policies that could easily affect your business.
To stay anchored to the market, remain close to new business opportunities, and maintain sustainability, make sure you completely understand what’s happening in the market so that you can adapt the strategy that you’ve built.
Stay up-to-date with credible business news, industry insights, and access to local resources and networks. This will give you the market monitoring capability you need to absorb the shocks that happen in the dynamic local market.
Be where the action is
Similar to knowing where your customers are, you have to know and be where the action is. A lot of this business in Nigeria is built on interpersonal relationships. You have to prioritize face to face meetings, meeting people in person.
Make sure you go where the industry players in your industry are congregating. This includes forums, conferences, and other social networking activities.
This will allow you to learn more about things going on in your industry. These events happen both in Nigeria and outside the country.
Build networks and relationships for long-term business opportunities
As I said earlier, most businesses are built by forging strong interpersonal relationships. You want to prioritize building relationships as you continue to find business opportunities in Nigeria.
As you focus on your short term marketing strategy to try and reach new customers, make sure you’re building out a strong professional network along the way.
Having a resilient network is invaluable. This community keeps you plugged-in and it helps you can reach more decision-makers by having more influence within your community.
This ultimately helps you build a long term business that’s sustainable and can help you capture the broad and growing business opportunities in Africa’s largest economy.