Importing goods to Nigeria can be an attainable way to make money in Nigeria. However, starting a profitable importation business in Nigeria requires establishing business relationships with the exporters of such goods in the country you want to import from.
Importation business in Nigeria allows you to import goods from a country and resale them to the public or wholesaler at large. Take note that import businesses in Nigeria must comply with the Nigerian Customs Services for safe shipping practices and to prevent illegal goods or hazardous items to be brought into the country. Therefore, check out the laws and regulations of Nigeria and the country you are importing from, before making an order.
When you import goods into Nigeria to resell, and when your goods reach the port entry, it is the responsibility of Nigerian Customs Services to clear your goods before they can enter the country. However, to successfully clear your goods through Nigerian Customs requires you to provide customs clearing documents like a product certificate (Pc), SONCAP Certificate (Sc), etc. It is therefore important to make all the necessary documents available.
In this article, we will discuss how to start a profitable importation business in Nigeria. Keep reading for the steps you need to take.
How To Start A Profitable Importation Business In Nigeria
1. Choose A Goods/Products To Import
The first step in starting a profitable import business is to find goods that sell fast in Nigeria. There are fast-selling goods in Nigeria to consider, and some of the goods are clothes (bale of clothes), children’s toys, footwear, electronics gadgets, etc. Ensure to focus on products that are demanded and needed mostly in Nigeria.
2. Come Up With A Business Plan
A plan mostly is a guide away from failure. A business plan guides you through the journey of knowing and identifying relevant, irrelevant, and excesses. After all, growing a business is a process, it is never an immediate achievement. Therefore, a good plan from the start gives you clear visions, confidence, and focus.
There are two methods of writing your business plan, the traditional business plan method, and the lean business plan.
The traditional business plan: This is mostly used or needed by a detailed business owner or investor, this is mostly the best option as it is detailed. The traditional business plan contains:
√ Business name
√ Your mission statement
√ Your services
√ Your business leadership team
√ Your employees
√ Where your business is located.
√ Your Target market
√ Your Market Analysis
√ Your SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Oppositions Threats) Analysis
√ Your Organisation and management structure with a chart if possible
√ Marketing and sales strategy
√ Funding requirements and duration
√ Business yielding Potentials
√ Credit Histories
√ Permits that would be required
√ Licenses that would be required
The lean business plan method: This is a direct-to-the-point type of business plan, it contains:
√ Mission Statement
√ Major Partnerships
√ Resources that would be used to create services
√ SWOT (Strength Weaknesses Oppositions Threats) Analysis
√ Sales and Marketing Strategy
√ Target Market
√ Revenue Streams
3. Conduct A Market Research
You must understand the system of your market because you will be needing it. First and foremost, understanding your market gives you a great insight into what the value you are providing is worth, it’s target and the competition.
Additionally, you can conduct market research on the strength and weaknesses of other importers, what you are going to do differently or what you are going to improve on to provide a better service. What you need to make the difference or improvements, what it will cost you to startup. During your market analysis, you take a SWOT analysis of your business.
4. Improve Your Business Plan
With the knowledge from your market analysis, you improve your business plan, let go of the excesses and add to the plan the necessities to be the shift in the market. This stage in starting your importation business can be regarded as the final plan stage.
At this point, a clearer picture of your business and a modification of your mission statement is done. So as you go about putting things in order, you have a clear perception of what you are doing.
5. Raise Capital For Your Business
As there are several means of raising capital, a lot of negative information is out there about taking a loan. Taking a loan depends on the business plan and structure, if you are confident enough about the potential of your business, a loan is no bad idea.
LOAN: Loan is a certain amount of money lent to you by the bank over years and the interest rate and monthly payments are fixed in terms.
Other ways to raise capital include:
√ Personal Savings: The money you have put aside to start a business. This is not gotten from anyone else but you.
√ Selling stock of your business: This refers to liquidating your asset for money. Your investor buys the share and gives you cash, most times it is advisable you keep over 50% of your stock as the investor has the exclusive right to re-sell his share and that might affect your ownership of your business. The highest shareholder is the owner of the business. These are the things to consider when starting a business.
√ Partnership: You partner with someone or an organization of like minds. Where the other party who contributes to the capital is given a percentage. In partnership, they share in the profit as well as the loss which would mostly be aligned to their contribution of capital and overall growth of the business.
√ Sponsorship: You can write a business proposal to individuals, organizations, or companies. If validated and approved, these individuals, organizations, and companies will raise the capital. In this case, they may not be interested in any percentage of the profit but might be requiring a steady report on the growth process. On the other hand, they may require a given percentage (most times a little percentage. for Example, Non-governmental organizations) but will not take part in the loss of the business.
√ Friends and Family: This is contributions from close relatives and friends. it could be a place to start, it could be facilities but mostly cash. The business owes no obligations to these persons.
6. Choose A Business Structure
In starting an importation business, having done the fore analysis, the next consideration is the structure of your business if it will be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company. While choosing a business structure, you must consider the following:
• The tax and legal standing: Tax is a mandatory contribution, levied on business owners by the government. It could be at a national level or state level. It can also be on both levels.
• Cost of start-up From your market analysis, having explored the possible ways of raising an income and the potential of your business, you would know the right business structure to erect.
• Profit sharing: It is just in sole proprietorship that you do not share the profit and loss of the business. In every other business structure, profit and loss are shared based on the agreement of both parties.
7. Choose A Business Name
Your business name is like your gateway to investors and customers. So in picking a name you should know and consider that:
1. It is almost like the full essence of your business in one word or two, so keep it simple and intentional.
2. It is your business identity, it should therefore be in alignment with your services provided or the satisfaction intended.
3. Business name should not take a lot of energy to pronounce or needs special attention to memorize. It should ring a bell such that even a layman can relate with and relate to the name.
4. Trademark issues should be put into consideration while choosing a business name.
5. In as much as it should be simple, make your business name unique. If possible, a name not found in the dictionary.
8. Register Your Business
A registered business gives you legal standing. Your registration is your proof of authenticity. A registered business is recognized as a separate entity on its own, separate from the owner. It has its rights, values and identity recognized.
Reasons To Register Your Importation Business:
√ Protection from Legal Authorities: When your business is registered, your business name is protected and cannot be used by any other business. The authorities protect and preserve your business name and slogan.
√ Business Account: Having a business account is very important for every business. A business that is not registered cannot get a corporate account and this is not good for possible investments and business transactions. Hence, using a personal account in running your business limits the potential of your business.
√ Business Trips and Conferences Outside Your Country: A registered business makes it possible for you to travel outside the shores of your country for business deals and business transactions. Only registered businesses can gain international recognition thus you can only leave the country for business purposes when your business is registered.
√ Hiring Employees: rules and regulations are guiding every business. When a business is registered, it makes the rules more valid, this applies also to the hiring, paying, and maintenance of employees. It is easier for a registered business to hire employees as the individuals know that they will be properly protected and are operating under controlled management. This breeds the best from both the employees and the employer.
√ Continuity: A registered business name assures you of a lasting legacy. Even after the Business owner is no more, the business can still run on its own. it does not die with the owner. Therefore, registering your business is as good a solid foundation as Posterity.
√ Getting Loans: Banks and other corporate bodies give loans to Registered businesses. When your business is not registered and a loan is applied, there will be an alarm for investigation of fraud. This makes the process longer than necessary as you would have to prove beyond doubt that you are genuine and most times not get the loan until you are registered.
√ Reputation:: A registered business is trusted by your customers. Your registered business entails permanence and shows effective management. This builds confidence in your investors and patronizers alike.
√ Incorporation: When your business is registered it will now be recognized by the corporate bodies (The body responsible for the registration of businesses). This recognition gives your business a legal stand.
√ Legal protection from risks: Your Registered business is an entity of its own. So if your business runs into debt or liability of any sort with the bank, so far you did not guarantee such debt on a personal basis, nothing related to you would be affected. it is outrightly that of the business to deal with.
√ Financing: Most investors will not put their money in a business that is not registered. A non-registered business has so many disadvantages in this regard as it can not be regarded as a separate entity. Therefore many investors will not accept it as having a legal and working structure that can be accountable for their money. So, a registered business keeps you open to opportunities for investment and growth.
9. Find A Good Location
Consequently, you will need a warehouse to store your goods when they arrive. That is why location is paramount. The importation business has its customers. However, you can be offering the right services but with the wrong people, and this is mostly an effect of bad location and all efforts on the plan and structure will be a waste.
In choosing a location, your target market is majorly considered. You do not run an importation business in an area where it is not needed but in an environment where it can be accessed. The economic policy of the environment too should be considered.
10. Open A Business Account
We do not mix pleasure with business as much as we do not mix personal affairs with business. A business account is vital and different from your account.
Most business accounts require multiple signatures thus relieving the business owner of the stress of every aspect of management, business accounts also generate income as interest.
Having a business account makes it easy for you to prepare taxes and also makes it easy to keep a proper book record of your expenses and your income.
A business account presents the management as organized and effective to investors. This can offer you credibility.
11. Obtain Necessary Licenses And Permits
Registering your business is not the only guarantee you need to kick off. As a result, importers have their license or permit of some sort and this is dependent on your location. Business permits regulate the structure and safety of the business community.
12. Apply For Business Insurance
For unforeseen loss and risk management, you will be needing business insurance. Business insurance protects from theft, fire, medical expenses, compensation towards workers, etc. Find a good licensed insurance agency and they would help you articulate the best insurance policy for your business.
13. Find Suppliers/Manufacturers
Now that you have chosen a goods/product you are passionate about, you need to find a producer of the products for supplies. A good relationship with the suppliers is vital for long-running import business. Generally, you can find a supplier by inquiring about other importers. Other importers can connect you to producers, but you need a trusted person to guide you.
It is very important to have a mentor or a trusted person who is in the field of business to help you find a supplier. Furthermore, finding a supplier might warrant you traveling out to the country. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself well by having an international passport and obtaining other important documents for a business trip.
After all is set and done, give a price tag to your goods so that your customers will be aware of how much to budget for your goods.
14. Employ Staff
A general saying “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go with someone”. A very important aspect of a business is employing staff. A properly trained one will do a greater good. Also, good training for a newbie will promise loyalty to your business.
You can not raise your business structure and do all the work and produce high efficiency, even if you do, it will take a longer time. The time that would have accomplished one or two more tasks. So, no department or aspect of your business suffers, a staff is a must. If it is a small-scale business, basically two or three for a start is enough.
15. Promote And Market Your Business
We are a most fortunate generation with the internet, where almost everything is possible including Promoting and marketing your business. Key effective ways are:
Make Videos: The selling means of advertising your services is video making. The video first should be short but detailed. If you cannot deal with the creative, you hire the services of a content creator an accurate one at that.
Make Reviews: You can render your service to some persons for free or a little token, and get honest reviews from them. They would spread the word for you.
Social Media Ads: Run Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter Ads. For this, you would be needing a good copywriter. This would bring your business to the limelight, people from all works of life would see it and a good percentage of these people will click on it.
Have A Website: A website properly developed with a very good user interface and an articulated blog post, where potential customers can come and know everything about your service is necessary, so when you run these Ads, it takes your potential customers to your website and expose them really to your services.
Create Business Social Media Handles: Create business social media handles separate from your handle, post your services daily, and have a social media manager who has great skills in copywriting or content creation. You ask for honest reviews from customers and re-post on your social media handles. This will encourage and boost the confidence of other potential customers.
Collaborations: When bigger industries are hosting events and call for sponsorship or partnership, this is a good strategy to sell your services as you will be featured either as a partner or as a sponsor, as much as this might bring about financial responsibilities, it can also be as free and simple as volunteering, it can also be donating assets that can be gotten back after the event.
Offline Advertisement: You can promote your business offline through word of mouth, sharing your business card, billboards, and flyers. Offline advertisement is one of the best ways to promote your business & reach your potential customers (target market).
Cost Of Starting A Profitable Importation Business In Nigeria
There are various factors involved in starting an importation business in Nigeria, and “capital” is among the factors. This means that the capital needed for this business can vary quite a bit. So you have to budget more than ₦20 million for a profitable importation business in Nigeria.
Starting an import business can be a lucrative venture in Nigeria. And most importantly, identify all the licenses & permits you will need, and apply for them through the right authorities. Then wait for approval before placing an order for your goods. In conclusion, we advise you to seek advice from professionals before embarking on this business.