June 9, 2023
In 2020, with less than five thousand naira in her bank account, Mercy started her first small-scale business, an online perfume store.
Although the profits didn’t roll in immediately, keeping the business afloat wasn’t difficult since it didn't need a lot of capital. Mercy now has hundreds of customers and teaches beginners how to start their small-scale perfume business.
Just like Mercy started her small business with little capital, you can do the same. This article suggests ten small-scale businesses you can start today, some for as low as five thousand naira.
In this blog post, you’ll find:
- Definition of a small-scale business
- 10 Small-Scale Business Ideas
- Private Catering
- Fashion Business
- Small chops catering
- Content Creation
- Online Thrift Store
- Makeup and Gele Business
- Private Tutoring
- Perfume Business
- Bedding Accessories
What is a small-scale business in Nigeria?
Small-scale businesses are privately owned businesses that typically require minimal capital to begin, have a limited number of employees, and operate independently within a localized area.
If you've been wondering, here are three signs you should start your small business today:
- You already have the skill: since many of these businesses are skill based— like hairstyling, catering, and private tutoring— you need little or no money to begin.
For example, you can start a home-service-based hairstyling business with less than five thousand naira. The most important thing is that you know how to plait hair.
- You want to be your own Boss: If you want to work on your terms, decide your working hours, and build something for you, starting a small business is your best bet.
The best part, you don't even need a business partner to start.
However, if you want to partner with someone with better expertise in an area you lack, you can use the OurPass team management tools to foster transparency and accountability.
- You're reading this blog post: Admit it. You clicked on this link because you know you're ready deep down. Now, you just need to review our shared ideas and start.
Ten Small-Scale Business Ideas in Nigeria
1. Personal Catering
You can start this small business by preparing different meals according to customer preferences or what’s on your menu.
To start your catering business in Nigeria, you'll need to figure out the following:
- Pricing: Start by finding the market prices of foodstuff. Select the meals for your first menu, depending on your capacity.
- Advertise: Tell your friends and build your social presence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Plate the meals properly to make them look good. An excellent example of someone who does this well is Tinu's Kitchen, an online personal catering business.
- Get a Business Bank Account: Whatever payment method you choose, open a free bank account to avoid mixing personal and business funds. All you have to do is create a free account with OurPass.
Another option is to visit home kitchens to cook in bulk for customers. You need almost no capital to start this. The client provides the ingredients and cooking materials; you'll get paid for your service.
2. Fashion Businesses
Ready-to-wear, Bespoke tailoring, Fashion accessories, or Personal Styling, the options for starting a small-scale fashion business are many.
Many of these sound fancy, but you can start with the good old tailoring business and grow as your talents expand. All you need are your skills, a decent sewing machine, and your space (your bedroom will suffice).
Another option is to import fast fashion items from online companies like Shein.
For example, Christabelle of LuxebyBella started by importing fashion items before she launched her Bespoke tailoring brand and, later, her ready-to-wear brand.
To start your fashion business from scratch, you'll need the following:
- Business Capital: Cut costs by outsourcing the tailoring and paying a service fee instead of hiring your own tailors and buying equipment.
- Practice: If you choose to make the clothes yourself, it is vital to keep improving your craft. To save cost, you can use free sewing tutorials on youtube.
- A business bank account: To avoid financial mistakes, separate personal and business finances from the get-go.
OurPass business banking platform provides a free business bank account and tools to send out invoices, receive payments and manage your team in one place.
If you start today, you'll be well on your way to building your dream business. For example, in less than five years, LuxebyBella has grown into a ready-to-wear brand where she creates unique designs and stays relevant by constantly being creative.
3. Small Chops Catering
If you’ve ever been to a Nigerian Owanbe, then you know getting a small chops vendor is non-negotiable.
Jessica saw this business opportunity in 2020 and started selling puff puff, flavored bread, and spring rolls. She already had an oven, so she only needed twenty thousand naira to get a hand mixer.
To start your small chops business, you'll need the following:
- Learn how to make small chops: There are YouTube videos from food creators like SisiYemmieTV where you can learn for free
- Create a store: while you can sell your small chops at a walk-in store, starting with an online Instagram shop is cheaper.
- Figure out payments: Elevate your brand by creating and sending professional invoices to your event vendors.
- Get a Business Bank Account: Whatever payment method you choose, open a free bank account to avoid mixing personal and business funds.
Start with pastries like meat pie, chinchin, sausage rolls, and banana bread to grow your business and reduce costs.
You do not need expensive equipment like mixers to make these.
4. Hair Styling
From my experience, the average woman in Nigeria spends at least three thousand five hundred naira per month on her hair.
If you have ten customers monthly, you'll make about thirty-five thousand naira from your hairstyling business.
You can start by offering home services for a start. To begin your hairstyling business, you'll need the following:
- Choose an area of expertise: Braiding, Wig installations, Natural hair styling, Short haircuts, etc.
You can also share your styling tips online, just like Michelle does.
- Buy Equipment: Hair extensions, cutting combs, styling gels, and a mobile bag to take everything with you.
- Payment method: Get a Point of Sales terminal (POS terminal) for physical and bulk deliveries.
You can also create professional invoices and send them via mail with payment links.
Starting this business requires less than ten thousand naira, especially when you offer only home services.
You only need to buy hair products, combs, a dryer, and a mobile bag to carry the items.
5. Content Creation
Content creation is a small business most people avoid because they think they need expensive iPhones or gadgets to start.
This isn’t always true. When Alma Asinobi started creating content, she had no fancy equipment.
She began with what she had—an Android phone, an Instagram account, and a small community of less than 1000 people who believed in her.
Less than three years later, Alma has nearly 100,000 followers across all platforms and works with brands to create organic content, influence their products, and attend events.
To start as a content creator, you need the following:
- Create high-quality content: Sharing valuable content is a great way to grow your online following.
Focus on helping your community thrive through educational or entertaining content.
- A phone and tripod: Don't wait till you have fancy gadgets. Use your current phone, get a tripod, and start creating.
- Learn how to monetize: It's great to hone your content creation skills, but you must remember the business part.
But you also need to make money by pitching and partnering with brands that align with your values.
An easy way to learn is to see how top creatives have done it in this guide on making money as a content creator.
You must have built an engaged community before earning money from brand-influencing deals as a creator.
This will only happen if you genuinely care about your audience and consistently share online.
6. Online Thrift Business
The sale of second-hand items, known as Okrika in Nigeria, is popular because people want to cut purchasing costs.
Whatever product you choose to sell in your thrift store, you need to do your market research and find your niche.
This will help you determine what grade of thrift products they want, how often they buy, and how much they spend per time.
These will help you determine how to position your brand and how much capital to start with.
Start thrifting in these easy steps:
- Buy in bulk: Visit popular markets like Balogun in Lagos to get bales of thrift clothes at a cheaper price.
- Brand your business: anyone can get clothes from the market, so you distinguish yourself with a good brand identity.
Choose a brand name and get a logo if you can afford to. Keep your brand name short, memorable, and unique.
- Set up your online store: set up an eCommerce or a social media store– use Instagram or Facebook marketplace.
For this small-scale business, exploring different markets and patronizing other suppliers is advisable to get the best deal.
7. Private Tutoring
"There's a huge market for private academic tutoring because parents constantly want their kids to improve,” Kikky Samuel, a private tutor, told us.
Even if you're not academically inclined, you can explore other forms of coaching, including giving music, dance, and sports lessons.
To start a private tutoring small business, you need the following:
- Credibility and trust: getting your first client is the easy part.
Teaching is a huge responsibility; hence, you must demonstrate good character to earn further client recommendations.
- A low barrier to entry: Use platforms like Prep Class to put up your coaching business for free online, display past results, and get job recommendations.
- Zero Capital: This is one of the small-scale business ideas you can start with zero naira in your bank account.
All you need to do is to get your first client and provide value.
Although people often overlook private tutoring as a small business idea in Nigeria, it is profitable for those who enjoy teaching.
You can also grow your customer base without stress. You only need to land your first client and get good referrals.
8. Makeup and Gele Services
Before Laura Kanayo launched her makeup business, she trained with youtube videos.
She invested in her learning process by buying a few products and practicing on faces.
However, she advises anyone who wants to start a makeup business to take professional training.
To start this small-scale business, you need the following:
- An initial investment: "Invest in quality products from the start." Laura shares. We agree.
However, quality doesn't always mean expensive. Take advantage of makeup product fairs to get good products at affordable prices.
- Get Training: This depends on your chosen trainer and your desired products.
Essential products include brushes, shades of foundation and powder, lights, and chairs.
See this tutorial on how to become a freelance makeup artist.
- Manage your Business with Professional Tools: Choose a reliable business banking platform to recoup your expenses quickly.
Create a separate bank account to trace past payments and easily manage your business.
Building an online presence is essential for a makeup artist.
Use a visual platform like Instagram to show potential customers samples of your work.
9. Perfume store
Consider this if you want something to do easily from the comfort of your home with less than five thousand naira (N5,000).
Although there are different wholesale packages depending on your budget and target market, D’fragrance Home’s business started with only 4,200 naira in 2020.
Here are the main things to know before starting this small-scale business:
- Do your Research: Before D’fragrance Home officially launched, Mercy spent two months researching the business to know whether it was one business she wanted to enter.
- Stay Consistent: Three years after D’fragrance Home launched, she’s now selling to hundreds of customers on her website and training those who want to start the business. Consistency pays.
- Know Your Target Customers: This is one of the least capital-intensive small-scale businesses you can start in Nigeria.
But you might need more money if you're targeting customers with expensive tastes.
No matter the type of perfume you sell, you'll grow your business faster if you act like a professional.
Of the ways to do this is to send professional invoices using this free invoicing tool for small-scale businesses.
10. Bedding Accessories
An excellent way to start selling bedding accessories with little capital is to avoid making bed sheets in bulk.
Instead, let your customers select fabrics directly from your supplier’s catalog, who will sew and deliver straight to them in your brand’s name.
To start selling bedding accessories, you’ll need the following:
- Find a Reliable Vendor: Find a supplier, pick the fabric, and share with a tailor to make the bed sheets.
- Cater to different tastes: allow customers to select the fabrics digitally before incurring production costs.
A quick tip: Accept a deposit for the order; this way, you minimize your investment cost.
- Separate business and personal finances: separate personal and business income by opening a free business bank account on OurPass
No matter the small-scale business idea you choose — from personal catering to tutoring, makeup and gele, perfume, and bedding accessories, make sure it is one you genuinely enjoy.
To thrive with any small-scale business, you need the right idea and tools to grow the business in the long run.
Take advantage of innovative business banking tools from OurPass to meet your business’s day-to-day operational needs.