Nigeria is blessed with a teeming population of about 200 million people, the majority of who are under 40 years of age. This is a nation bustling with tremendous opportunities, which interestingly are not limited to any sectors. These range between Manufacturing, Health, Educational, Hospitality, Agro-allied, Pharmaceuticals, Trading, Aviation, Drycleaning, personal/ home care, pet care, and more.
However, as is the case with most other thriving economies, there are the economic capitals where the real deal subsists. Even though Lagos State has the human population of about 10% of that of the entire nation, the reality is that there is a steady stream of business visitors both from within Nigeria, West Africa, and of course, beyond. The possibilities presented by the purchasing power of this swarming pool of potential customers range in several billion of dollars. This is precisely why the business frontier of Lagos metropolis keeps expanding.
Unearthing Potentials Within the City
Ikeja has a long and documented history, running into decades. It is a well-planned area and hosts several big companies and multinationals, whose multi-layered staff cadre, provide a ready flow of patronage to deserving businesses that avail them with top-notch products and services.
The authentic GDP of Lagos state is N628 trillion ($157.728 Billion) and a significant ratio of that resides in Ikeja. Finding your bit from that pie is not an impossibility. It is only a question of vision and strategy.
Consider also that on the informal side, The Computer Village at Ikeja keeps pulling customers from across Nigeria and Lagos metropolis into the Ikeja axis. These potential customers would require ancillary services that are not just limited to taking lunch when they get tired. There are such varying ranges of needs that guarantee that if you are very good at what you do, the patronage you seek will surely come to you. At Astra Cleaners, we saw these highlights and were driven to set up shop here.
Turning the Motivation into Action
Often times, when people intend starting up a new enterprise, one of the key choices that they have to make is the size of space the business would require. And of course, they also look at their budget and often make the mistake of trying to stick to their area of residence. However, those who want to catch big fishes must get on the high sea. And that is where Ikeja, the capital city of Lagos State presents a unique opportunity for future-focused businesses like ours.
Other business locations that compare relatively to Ikeja district within the Lagos Mega City include V.I. (Victoria Island), Lekki/ Ajah, Ikoyi. To some extent Surulere, Ikorodu and Oshodi may share proximity with Ikeja but they even don’t come close in terms of economic potential. The afore-mentioned places have their unique distinguishing attributes.
However, they present varying limited possibilities compared to Ikeja. Whereas you have to plow offices in areas such as V.I. and Ikoyi to let potential customers know that your business exists, Ikeja is where you are likely to see a significant number of potential customers who walk in to make inquiries. Lagosians literarily troop into Ikeja to go find something they need. That is the driving mindset and therefore they come with cash in hand, ready to pay for goods and services.
On another key aspect, the monetary value for rent in Ikeja is far less than what you will find in V.I. and Ikoyi for instance, where you are likely to get billed hundreds of dollars for a square meter if you need office space. Surulere, Ikorodu, and Oshodi surely present much lesser rent bills but the size of business opportunities and patronage present to a business in Ikeja possibly supersede that of the three, combined.
So How do You Get Started?
- One of the biggest errors you find in this clime is that people commence business without formal registration. There is often wariness towards the registration process but the reality is that the advantages of registering your business far-out weigh any considered disadvantage.
The registration process has become much easier than before with the introduction of online registration on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) website: www.cac.gov.ng. Individual and Proprietors can freely register business names without the services of the legal practitioner, chartered Accountant or Chartered Secretary.
The very first registration you would need is the BUINESS NAME registration and it costs a mere N500. All you need is to log onto the website, click Business names on the banner, and enter your preferred name on the side bar that reads “Search”. If your preferred name is no longer available, your chose another one or alter it in a way that suits you. This is simply you cannot be given a name that already is too identical to another business concern.
When you successfully complete the process as outline on that page, which usually does not take so much time, that business name is automatically reserved for you. You could actually commence your real time business activities in that name, if you consider that you don’t have an urgent need to incorporate as a Limited liability company or in the event that your start -up capital is not so much. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of this and are unable to secure their business name registration.
Conversely, it is best to follow up immediately with the complete incorporation process, provided you have the means. An incorporated business in their private office space communicates stability and confers a measure of confidence from your customers.
Aside from the advantages of your customers regarding your business more seriously, if you gave a steady stream of deposits with your bankers, they would find it easier to offer you credit lines, which if properly utilized could provide your business with a much-needed ladder for increase and expansion.
2. The actual duration for Reservation of Business name is just 1 day. You could then proceed to download and fill the incorporation documents from the CAC website. After you fill the forms, you would need to proceed to the FIRS ( Federal Inland Revenue Service) office closest to you and pay the Stamp duty, which basically 1% of your proposed share capital.
Other possible fees include N500 for each additional copy of the memorandum and articles of association stamped. Thereafter you will proceed to sign the declaration of compliance before a Commissioner for Oaths or notary public Agency. Using State High Court behind Tafewa Belewa Square at Lagos will do the job, and does not take more than a few minutes. The cost is just N500 at the court or N4000-N5,000 with a notary public.
- When you are done, you should upload these documents for your proposed company at the CAC website. The cost may not necessarily get up to N100,000 depending on your NOMINAL share capital. It would cost youN10,000 for a company whose nominal share capital is N1,000,000 or less + N5,000 for each subsequent N1,000,000]. Another N3,000 would be required for certified true copy of memorandum and articles of association, plus a further N2,000 for certified true copy of CAC form 1.1)
- When that is done, you would proceed to make a company seal Agency: Seal makers have shops around Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) charge usually N5,000. Often times, they would ask you to pick up the seal by the following day. While that is getting done, your next point of call would be the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) to register for income tax and VAT Agency. You will then be issued a TIN number for your company. You will also be obliged with a VAT agency number, should your line or specialty of business require so. Finally, on that note, you have to register business premises with the Lagos State Government and pay the business premises levy Agency at any Commercial bank Time. This usually takes 1 day and the cost is N10, 000.
If you are not too busy, it is better to get all these done by yourself. Not only are you going to save money as opposed to giving it away to a lawyer, but you get to measure your registration process as you get along. Whereas you might be disposed to face the registration process squarely and get it done in a few days, your lawyer may wish to find one or two other incorporation briefs to join to yours. In this way, the lawyer might deliver in 4 weeks, what you could do in 1 week.
Finding the Space for a Brick and Mortar
Now that you have registered your business, the next important step would be to find an ideal and suitable business location. Firstly, you have to consider your budget: how much can you afford to put up for your business rent. This would include the actual rent payable to your landlord and the applicable legal fees, agency fees.
The process itself could be tedious but you could avoid too much exertion of effort and avoidable running round in circles by starting with an internet search. Sites like www.nigeriapropertycenter.com and www.jiji.ng are well-known portals that you can start with. Never join the band of people that conclude that anything on the internet is driven by fraudsters. That is far from the truth, as there are just as many fraudsters on the streets as on the internet. Even if you don’t have a lot of funds for Victoria Island, you can still locate your physical business in Ikeja, Lekki or Yaba business districts.
On the whole, you need to be practical and discerning. As much as you can, endeavor to take a friend or relative with you on-site inspections. When you see what you like, come back a few days later and politely interview other tenants regarding the identity and possibly contact of the landlord. Most people will open up to you if you let them know that you are an in-coming tenant and you just want to be sure that the estate agent you are dealing with is pointing you in the right direction for payment.
Good Ways to Blow Your Trumpet
You will be amazed to learn that most of the most widely known and established companies in the world, spend a huge part of their operating budget on adverts and building new markets. Therefore, after you move into your chosen location, you must be aware that potential customers looking for business in Ikeja will not just come to you on their own. We didn’t set up our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter just to join the number; we know they count in brand visibility if well deployed.
Also, don’t to adopt advert and marketing strategies depending on your line of business. Flex banners and well-designed handbills can come in handy. Your ability to get the flyers across to the right people is also of the utmost importance. For instance, if you offer premium Pet care services, your target customers should be at Ikeja GRA as opposed to Ipodo market.