Starting and sustaining an internet startup in Nigeria is probably one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. Here’s some insight from those who’ve toed that line with relative success.
First of all, what is your motivation?
The only reason why you should be running a startup is because you have the conviction that you can solve a problem. — Damola Taiwo, co-founder MyMusic.com.ng.
If you want to be successful in business, you must avoid the temptation of wanting to become a celebrity. It doesn’t make sense. Focus on your professional calling and be excellent at it. — Yele Okeremi, founder and CEO, Precise Financial Systems.
As long as your aim is not to be ‘cool’, but to actually solve a problem that really exists, you’re on the right track. — Fikayo Ogundipe, co-founder and CEO, ToLet.com.ng.
Do your homework
It’s not just about having a good idea, it’s about doing your homework and making sure the idea can actually take off. — Akinola Jones, co-founder, Aella Credit.
Gather as much information as possible because the journey is going to be tough. It doesn’t make it easier knowing that but you should have it at the back of your mind. — Emotu Balogun, co-founder, Traclist.
If you’re coming into online business in Nigeria, you have to be ready for the long haul. You must have had your strategies carved out from day one — Eyo Bassey, CEO, PayPorte
Define your space
You have to stay in your place of growth. Some seeds can grow in tropical weather and some can’t. — Debola Williams, co-founder Red Media.
It’s not every problem that you can solve, neither is it every problem that requires technology to solve it. — Kola Aina, founder, Emerging Platforms.
Your idea could be fantastic but if your market is small, you can’t really attract investors. — Fikayo Ogundipe.
Start small, iterate
Don’t think money can stop you. That’ a lie. Start with what you have, sell your car, sell your shoes, start in your bedroom. Just find a way, just start. — Ayeni Adekunle, founder and CEO, BHM Group.
Start small. If you try to start big, the chances of small mistakes causing big calamities are very high. Learn to build capacity because if you don’t, you’re likely to blow the small opportunities that come your way. — Yele Okeremi.
You need to be comfortable with what size of business you want to build. There’s no rule that says you must build a gang buster, huge business. — Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO, Paga.
Surround yourself with the right people
Anybody doing business must have counsel. There’s nothing as valuable as the right advice. You must look for people who you want to be like and surround yourself with these people. — Debola Williams.
Starting a business is open to everyone and anyone. Running a large scale business however needs a seasoned operator at the helm. Surround yourself with people that know more than you. That will give you success — Femi Akinde, founder and CEO, SlimTrader.
And remember, your team matters
Anyone can have an idea but the guys who believe in you enough to join, those are the real entrepreneurs. — Femi Akinde.
Your team matters. They are your first customer. In everything you do, put the team first. Even when you make profit, think of the team. — Leke Ojikutu, founder, VoguePay.
The best entrepreneurs are born but the wise ones can learn to be better. — Kola Aina.
Give everything you can to gain information, that’s what will separate you. That’s what will guarantee that you cannot fail. — Ayeni Adekunle.
But don’t lose track
Always go after your dream, no longer how long it takes. Be focused on what you currently do but always have it at the back of your mind that your dreams will always, by the grace of God, come into reality — Opeyemi Babalola, founder, Webber Engineering.
There are many businesses looking to create killer products. If you are going to be in business for 3-5 years, that’s fine. But if you are looking to stay relevant for a long time, your most important product is your company. — Chude Jideonwo, co-founder, Red Media.
Finally, about capital…
If in three months of business, you can’t make enough money to sustain the business for the next three months, you’re not ready for the business. — Michael Ebia, co-founder and CEO, ADE.
Stop focusing on money. Focus on creating value and serving humanity. Don’t get me wrong, money is important. But the more you focus on money, the less you focus on value. — Yele Okeremi.
Raising capital is probably going to be something you’ll live with for a very long time, so don’t expect quick fixes. But if you are getting the results and you are demonstrating the capacity to generate wealth and pay in return, then you will ultimately raise the capital. — Funke Opeke, founder, MainOne Cable.
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Nigerian startups raised $17.6m in Q1 2019, 8.5% higher than they did in Q1 2018. Find out more in the latest quarterly edition of the Nigerian Startup Funding Report here.