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10 challenges faced by start-up businesses in Nigeria


Life challenges are plenty and we all go through them in various forms; even those who want to begin new ventures face difficulties differently.

In a country like ours, new ideas on the business crop up daily and everywhere you look you find diverse names of ventures. There is no street in Nigeria that does not have a business mounted up and no matter how big or minute it looks; they are earning cash from it.

But the question to ask is how did they start or what did they go through to get there?

The truth is that anyone looking to begin a new venture in Nigeria goes through trials and if you are unaware of what those challenges are, you will be enlightened shortly.

To be an expert business guru in Nigeria, you must know the challenges that accompany it. The 10 business challenges are:

Inadequate funds to begin:

Everyone wants to be a boss but are you ready to go through fire to ensure it happens? Not having adequate cash to begin your business is one huge challenge people experience which sometimes discourages them from moving forward with it.

Some startup with the little they have and then expand when they begin to break even. But those who do not have, wait a while to save up in other to set up something.

What is the solution to this?

In this country, there are ways to acquire the funds you want to begin that venture and they are:

  • Borrow from close friends, close family and relatives
  • Get loans from microfinance banks
  • Look for realistic partners to collaborate with you
  • Join cooperatives and enjoy the benefits

Prolonged duration in registering business name:

Trying to register a business name in Nigeria sometimes takes time and when setting up a business structure, you need to be careful and ensure you have the right documentation so you are not harassed by government personnel.

But how can you begin your business if you don’t yet have your certificate of incorporation?

The solution is this:

Due to the fact that so many people are doing all they can to make money; they falsely act like they are assisting with business name registration and then dupe them.

Rather than giving such people your money, go to the Corporate Affairs Commission and find out how to rightfully register your business. By doing this, you will be going through the right means and following due process.

Insufficient Knowledge:

I keep saying that personal business is not for everyone. Just because you see others doing it does not mean it will also work for you.

But these days, people start businesses without having enough knowledge about it. Some people need to work under someone before they can branch off.

What to do?

  • Know what works best for you; is it the right time to begin? Are you available for it? Do you have the reserved information needed to begin?

You require answers to all these to be sure you are prepared for that business.

Selecting a name for your venture:

It is amazing how the mere selecting of a name for your business can be an issue for new ventures in Nigeria. Do you know that a lot of people have had to change their business names all over again just because the initial names they chose have existed before?

Some have had to use either a suffix or prefix to the initial name just to make it different. A lot has been disappointed in finding out that their names had been rejected.

The solution is:

Having more than 2 business names at hand. It is better to be over-prepared than to be disappointed. So when trying to get your business names approved, get ready other lists of business names just in case the ones you submitted will be rejected.

If you visit the Corporate Affairs Commission today, you will see that a lot of owners of businesses have this issue.

Poor infrastructure:

This is one vital challenge that disturbs every would-be business owner today in Nigeria. Sometimes I wonder how business ventures can survive for long with all that is going on.

A lot of demolishing is happening around which has affected so many businesses. Lots of shops have been destroyed because the government declared the structure of the shops violated the land policy.

So many roads are bad and under construction; how will people be able to sell their goods if customers cannot move easily and without obstruction on the roads? How can such roads lead to customer appeal?

How can owners of business ventures begin their businesses without being scared that tomorrow their shops would be destroyed?

In Alagbole/Akute area of Lagos State, such demolition is presently taking place. Businesses are now ruined and the hopes of newbies dashed because of this.

What can be done?

I believe before you think of beginning a new venture, you should do your research. These days it is risky having shops close to the roads. So investigate properly and ensure the area your shop will be is secure.

Insufficient equipment/ Poor quality tools:

Depending on your type of business, having equipment that is not of good quality or not having enough of it can be a challenge.

If this happens, you will not be able to produce the right quantity of items your clients require which can slow down your business.

The solution is:

  • Procuring good equipment that will not disappoint you
  • Invest in quality tools that you will not make you regret having in the future

No form of business experience:

Many new businesses face this issue because they have not been groomed properly for this. If you are thinking of starting something of your own, you should have started taking lessons from experts in your line of business.

This is one way of gathering the information you need as well as garnered skills for a business that will help you excel in your business.

But how can you manage those under you as well as be an industrial employer if you do not know the ABC of venturing into a new business?

Many startups fail just because of this.

What to do?

Before venturing out,

  • Take lessons from business owners who are already doing very well in your business field.
  • Register for business classes so you can acquire skills. Classes on baking skills and techniques can be gotten from Mixnbakeng.com
  • Be mentored by an expert in that field. By doing this you will get first-hand training on important tips that will help you succeed in your business.
  • Get general mentoring by a business coach. An example of one is Wonuola Okoye, owner of BigStartup. For more details, visit bigstartup.co.

Unreliable employees:

How many of you are experiencing this right now? I don’t think I have met someone who has not complained about this challenge before.

One of the wrong things you can do for your business is getting the wrong set of employees. To an extent, they determine how far your business will go.

How can you possess staffs and you cannot rely on them? In Nigeria, most owners of ventures already know that to do well in business, they have to be there personally if not they should be ready for any mishaps.

What is the solution to this?

To ensure you have staffs that are reliable, do the following:

  • Adequately prepare them by training them:

Whether you like it or not, they need to be trained for the work they are employed for. No matter how insignificant you think your business is, you must give them the skills they need to perform.

It is so alarming that in most shops I visit today, customer service has been neglected. Most shop attendants no longer know its relevance and it breaks my heart to see this happening all the time.

So find time to train them; if you cannot do so yourself, outsource it.

  • Make them accountable:

You need to ensure your staff are accountable for everything they do at your business place and the only way to achieve this is by placing checks within the business structure.

  • Be there:

It might be hard for you to be there all the time but it is necessary you do at least until your business gains ground.

Beating competition:

One challenge startups face is the notion of rivalry. How can you conveniently sell your items or have your own clients when almost all the shops around your business sell the same thing?

This is very common especially in Lagos and it makes me wonder how they cope. I guess over time most of them have grown accustomed to this while others try to do things differently so they can get more clients.

What can be done about this?

  • Branch off:

It all boils down to doing your research. Before getting a shop, find out what kinds of businesses already exist in the area and consider doing something different and unique from what is already there.

  • Advertise:

Everything is now viral. Let your business remain online, have a social media presence and let people know about your business.

By doing these, you will have clients both physically and non-physically and also consequently, beat your competition if any.

Shortage of regular power supply:

The issue of the regular power supply is a challenge every Nigerian face. Not having constant light affects businesses and so new ventures need to plan well to ensure they cover this aspect so their businesses do not suffer.


Make sure you have a generator by the side so you have a backup plan when there is no light.

Even though startups have challenges, life lessons have shown that they will surely mount those challenges and thrive. For you to make it, you should endeavour to make do with the solutions provided above and enjoy doing your business.

Priscillia Peters

This article was written by Priscillia Peters.