Lagos is filled with business opportunities. If you can make it in Lagos, you can make it anywhere in Nigeria.
… I want to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep…. If I can make it there, I know I can make it anywhere…
This old Ballad by Frank Sinatra about New York often makes me think of Lagos, the business opportunities and other things folks see when they head towards the big city of bustling lights and restless spirits.
Most people look at Lagos and see a city with unending traffic, impatient and busy citizens, crushing population and an over-saturation of business ideas and they’ll be right. But with large populations and big city lifestyles come big business opportunities that if done properly are sure to be moneymakers.
Top Business Opportunities In Lagos
Idea 1: Flexible Transportation Service
This is one of the business opportunities that no matter how many players we have, there can never be enough. In a city like Lagos, cabs, car hire services, buses are a dime a dozen yet never enough.
People are on the move and with increasing concern for their security, they would rather bank on transportation service they can trust and can grow familiar with.
Most people I know would rather stick with a service that can get them from their homes to the office, the club, the market without making them jittery about cost or their safety.
Consider: A Neighborhood/Estate Cab Service
Most Lagos commuters, (who are interested in services like these) live in organized estates. Not very many of these estates come with a cab service. At best there might be a car hire park just outside the estate gates.
If you are interested in transportation business, then you might consider providing a service that offers a wide range of services such as pickups from home, all-day service, office/ school pick-ups with 24-hour availability as well as flexible payment options e.g. Transfer, POS, etc. You may also consider the multiple passenger option where younger commuters heading in the same direction may split the fare.
To get started you may want to distribute flyers within the estate about your services. Start by striking up a friendship with the security guards at the gatehouse – nothing inspires trust like an advert or endorsement by men in uniform.
Also distribute your fliers at schools, churches, and mini-marts. These locations are family-friendly, warm and will definitely mark you out as safe.
For an extra touch, observe who runs the busiest grocery/ essential product business and is also quick to offer up information (okay I’ll say it as it is the neighborhood gossip!)- have her distribute your flyer by offering the incentive of a free ride to the market or wherever she/he picks up supplies.
Startup Capital Required: Under N1m
Buy a clean used car anywhere from N500,000 (five hundred thousand Naira). Sites like Cheki offer a range of cars at various costs. There are car dealers who also carry pre-used cars. Another good place to look is in mechanic workshops. Some car owners looking to sell often involve their mechanic in a final tune-up and in spreading the word.
You would also need to invest in flyers- this should cost anywhere from N3,000 to N5,000.
Ensure that your papers are in order before you hit the road and if you can afford it take a city tour a week before you start (you can do this via Broad Rapid Transit [BRT]). This will help you estimate the distance and fuel you might cover and need on your busiest days. Also, take time out to find out the taxi fares around to various destinations and make yours comparatively competitive.
Tip: It is crucial to have a good knowledge of cars and city routes. Start off with a car or two and take into account the cost of fueling and paying drivers. Even if you drive yourself, ensure you pay yourself and reinvest the rest of your income in expanding the business.
If you will offer a 24-hour service, ensure that you do the groundwork of recruiting trusted drivers.
Idea 2: Ticketing And Booking Services
Just think… It’s a Friday, the premiere of Star Wars holds tonight and tickets are sold out completely by Monday. But there’s a catch you have fifteen tickets. What are the chances that you can sell all fifteen in an hour? Fat! In fact, I’d say the chances are 15 in 15!
With such busy schedules, people often don’t come around to book tickets early. Whether it is entertainment like movie tickets, concert tickets, comedy shows, etc. or lifestyle and travel like flight tickets, spa deals, restaurant bookings, anything can be reserved for those in the fast-paced lifestyle of Lagos. You can buy tickets at giveaway prices and resell at a profit.
Consider: An All Ticket Service Provider
Start a website just for tickets and become a recognized vendor for service providers (who are looking for free exposure on any platform anyway).
Publicize your site via social media as the last-minute ticket place. People will pay a little extra for saving them the last-minute stress or worse disappointment of not seeing that movie or attending that concert.
Tip: For places where it applies, offer the extra service of sending their name ahead so they are greeted at the door by name and led to their seats or booths. This means including reservation in your service.
Running this as a one-man operation may be fun at first but as you expand you’ll need more legs, eyes and voices.
Startup Capital Required: Under N50k
Start with cheap movie tickets. Premier tickets usually cost N2,000 at most. Ten will cost you about N20,000. Once the tickets sell out, consider selling yours on various trading sites for about N2,500 to N2,800. You’ll require steady access to the internet and phone. Then re-invest in other tickets.
Tips: Consider making the venue of the event your pick up point for the tickets otherwise, the added touch of a delivery service would help your service spread by word of mouth
Idea 3: Errand Service
This is one of the many business opportunities that has not been tapped. After a tedious week, most city-based working parents barely have enough time to bond with their children, get involved in religious activity and prepare for the next week.
Running personal errands are simply out of the question and while one might reason that housekeepers and maids exist for this, there are households whose errands are too sophisticated or who would rather not have live-in staff but would be grateful if their itinerary can be freed up so they can focus on more important aspects of their lives.
I pay for comfort. We all need our energy and I’ll take any opportunity that saves me stress even if I only have to pay a little extra.
Consider: A Pay As You Go Home Manager/Assistant Service
Errands on this service would naturally take anywhere from a few hours to half a day or a full day. You could do anything from drafting out the itinerary to picking up grocery and the mail or dropping off packages or people at various destinations or petty financial transactions etc.
Startup Capital: Zero to N200k
Personal experience at customer service and personal assisting will come in handy. While recommendation and referral is your best bet in this type of service. You may also wish to start out by using the estate service method in idea 1.
Tip: Consider investing in a motorbike fitted with a carrying case. This will cut down your transportation time and overhead and cover most errand types. As you expand, you may find that you need to employ personal assistants for your business and invest in other vehicle types.
It is also crucial to remember that apart from the cost of transportation you are being paid for your time, efficiency and value of service. Ensure that you leave a good impression. Nothing ensures a call back like positive feedback to your client from a third party.
Idea 4: Event Planning
Well that’s what everyone calls it, even those who just decorate.
The big city is full of events- children are born, children turn landmark ages, they get into school, they graduate, they get married, write books, attain huge achievements, celebrate holidays, celebrate their parents, send off their parents in style.
Here in Lagos, everything is a reason to celebrate but with those busy schedules and limited knowledge almost everyone is looking for someone to tell them how to celebrate and this is where actual event planning comes in to play. This can also give birth to other business opportunities.
Consider: An All Event Solution Provider Service
Catering to events is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. First, you must have a clear picture of the event from start to finish and then work with clients’ budget to create the best fit.
To do this, you need to have the contact information and a brokerage agreement with a number of event vendors in various categories. From food, drinks, and aesthetics to hosting, location and entertainment.
Gathering resources like these takes years of planning and experience and trust-building, but it is essential to start somewhere.
Startup Capital: Zero to N50k
While I subscribe to short internships, most event planners are usually wary of the possibility of stolen clientele and aiding future competition. I have a friend who started her event career by attending as many as she could. At each event, she’ll strike up a conversation with a vendor or two then cards would exchange hands. Her card introduced her as an event broker.
The constant keeping in touch and firsthand knowledge of their work meant she could determine what vendor was right for what event. She will then offer them the job for a percentage of their fee while collecting her fixed fee from the clients.
Tip: Appearance is key. Allow your clients to see you in all elements from posh to hands-on without appearing hassled. You might want to invest in a good car. Clients are often always undecided and impatient. Your job is to be the calming and reassuring force in the storm.
Idea 5: Graphics Designing/ Content Strategist
People are now understanding the importance of publicity and appreciating social media. Brands have now realized the importance of digital marketing. Digital marketing is done through the creation of digital content which can be images, videos, articles, infographics, etc. Even for organizations that are still sleeping and do not have an online presence, the fliers they print when they want to organize events still have to be designed by a graphic designer.
When young people write to me asking for advice on business opportunities or ideas they can invest in, this is where I always point them to.
Consider: Running An Advertising Agency
You have to be creative, have a free spirit, know how to use graphic design tools and understand social media. There are lots of online resources where you can study and learn for free. It will take time initially to learn.
Start building your social presence, showcase your designs on your page and start reaching out to influencers, organisations, etc. You can offer your services for free to people who have large followership in exchange for credit for your designs. That way, more people can see your design.
Startup Capital: Zero to N100k
This requires little to no capital as long as you are creative. You will need a laptop and internet access. Get familiar with platforms like Canva and other free platforms.
Tip: You will have to leverage social media. Use your social media page to display your work and do not be afraid to reach out to people. Always be ready to learn and seek avenues to develop yourself.
Market your business on social media. Make sure to reach out to brands. Most companies are willing to pay if you can deliver on your promise of giving their brand the perfect look.
Idea 6: Online Tutoring/Offline Tutoring
If you’re knowledgeable in a certain field, teach it. Knowledge is the new gold. These days, people are constantly searching for knowledge, are eager to learn and self develop themselves.
This is one of the business opportunities that can be tapped into. Here, you are not spending much. The knowledge you have is what is important; that’s what you are imparting to your target audience.
First, think of what you can teach people and get on platforms that allow you to teach your knowledge.
Social media comes in handy in marketing this business opportunity, but people have to get to know you and your abilities first. Therefore, get out there and speak more about your niche, so people can be confident that you know your onion.
Consider: Online tutoring
This requires little to no capital. You will need a laptop, internet access, and up-to-date knowledge in the area you are tutoring. This is key!
You have to acquaint yourself with online tutoring platforms; sign up as a tutor, develop a course module, upload and begin to sell. Ensure to create a niche and sell yourself well on social media.
Consider: Start Your Offline Coaching Centre
This would require a face to face and personal interaction with your students. Of course, you must be tutoring in the area you are skilled in.
initially, setting up a centre will be expensive. You may want to arrange to meet with your students in a co-working space like ReDahlia Workspaces. This way, your booking is based on the number of hours you use. Asides saving you money, using ReDahlia Workspaces also make you appear professional as against meeting your clients in your home.
Tip: Always be ahead in your field. Update your knowledge regularly. Look out for new developments in your niche.