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SME Guide

How to Start a Business Incubation Consultancy in Nigeria: A Step-by-Step Guide

A business incubation consultancy provides guidance, training, mentoring, and other support services to help early-stage companies succeed and scale up their operations. Starting an incubation consultancy can be a rewarding way to boost entrepreneurship and economic growth in Nigeria.

This step-by-step guide outlines everything you need to know to launch your successful business incubation consultancy in Nigeria.

Conduct market research on the incubation industry.

The first step is to thoroughly research the incubation consultancy landscape in Nigeria. This will help you understand:

  • The size of the market and growth projections
  • Competitor offerings and pricing
  • Gaps and opportunities
  • Trends and developments
  • Client needs and pain points

You can gather this information through:

  • Desk Research: – Review industry reports, news articles, databases, association websites, etc.
  • Interviews: – Talk to players already running incubators or accelerators. Get insights from entrepreneurs, investors, economic development agencies, and other stakeholders.
  • Surveys: – Create questionnaires to collect data on needs, challenges, interests, etc. from your target clients.

Solid market research will give you clarity on positioning your consultancy for success.

Formulate your business plan and model.

After researching the market, you need a business plan outlining your incubation consultancy goals, strategies, operations, and finances.

Important elements to cover include:

Business Description

Provide an overview of your envisioned consultancy, including:

  • Objectives
  • Target market and clients
  • Services and offerings
  • How you will operate
  • Competitive advantages

Services and Offerings

Detail the specific services and value your consultancy will provide. Typical incubation support includes:

  • Mentorship: Match entrepreneurs with industry experts for guidance.
  • Workshops and Training: – Conduct seminars on business topics like marketing, legal issues, fundraising, etc.
  • Networking: – Host events to connect entrepreneurs to investors, partners, and peers.
  • Office Space: Provide co-working areas and infrastructure.
  • Access to Investors: – Link entrepreneurs to angel investors, VCs, and other funding sources.
  • Expert Advice: – Provide coaching on finance, HR, marketing, intellectual property, and other areas.

Operations Plan

Describe your:

  • Location and facilities
  • Tools, technologies, and systems
  • Hiring plan: staff, trainers, and mentors
  • Process workflows

Cover how you will deliver your services smoothly.

Marketing Plan

How will you promote your consultancy and acquire clients?

  • Pricing/fees
  • Sales and distribution channels: online, partnerships, events, etc.
  • Advertising and promotion plan
  • Networking and referrals

Financial Plan and Projections

  • Startup and operating costs
  • Funding and investment requirements
  • Revenue streams and projections
  • Profit/loss forecasts
  • Cashflow, balance sheet, etc.

Leadership Team

Introduce the key partners, directors, managers, and advisors running the consultancy. Highlight prior experience and achievements.

Structure your consultation legally.

Decide on the legal structure to register your business incubation consultancy. Common options are:

Limited Liability Company

An LLC combines the benefits of a corporation with partnership flexibility. It limits personal liability and allows you to open a corporate bank account, have employees, etc.


A simple partnership agreement involves co-starting the consultancy with others. Outline profit-sharing, roles, responsibilities, and other terms.

Sole Proprietorship

Registering your own personal business name if running the consultancy independently Simple and low-cost, but no liability protection.

Consult a lawyer to pick the optimal legal structure aligned with your objectives and situation.

Also, ensure you comply with all Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) rules and procedures for company registration in Nigeria.

Obtain licences and permits.

Regulatory requirements to operate legally include:

  • Business name registration: Register your company name with the CAC.
  • Tax Identification Number (TIN): Get a TIN from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for payment of taxes.
  • Relevant association memberships: Join industry groups like the Business Incubation Association of Nigeria for credibility.
  • Zoning permits: If providing office space, get approval for commercial usage from the Ministry of Urban Planning.
  • Health and safety certificates: Get all the necessary certifications in this regard.

Consult your local government agencies to ensure you have all needed licences and permits secured. This boosts compliance and trust when pitching clients.

Fund Your Business Incubation Consultancy

Adequate funding and financing are key to launching and sustaining your consultancy. Explore options like:

  • Bootstrapping: – Self-finance through personal savings, credit cards, etc. Works for minimal startup costs.
  • Bank loans: Approach banks and microfinance institutions for small business loans. Come prepared with a solid business plan.
  • Investors: Pitch to angel investors and VCs focused on the incubation space for seed funding. Offer equity shares.
  • Government grants: Federal and state agencies like the Bank of Industry offer various SME funding grants and incentives.

Having sufficient working capital secures resources to hire staff, acquire assets, market your services, and keep the consultancy running smoothly.

Set up your incubation facilities and infrastructure.

To serve clients effectively, your consultancy needs the right facilities and infrastructure in place.

Office Space

Many consultancies provide co-working areas or dedicated offices for their client startups. Ensure your location is easily accessible with strong internet connectivity, a power supply, and amenities.

Decide the space layout—things like meeting rooms, event venues, hot desks, private offices, etc. Outfit the office with the furniture, equipment, and tools needed.

Virtual Infrastructure

Have the core IT infrastructure for delivering services smoothly, including:

  • Fast computers and devices
  • Collaboration software (video conferencing, project management, etc.)
  • CRM system to manage clients and interactions
  • Accounting software
  • Website and intranet portal for information sharing
  • Cloud-based data storage
  • 24/7 internet and backups

Expert Network

Build a network of qualified mentors, coaches, and specialists aligned with your target verticals who can impart expertise to entrepreneurs. Have clear agreements around compensation, availability, responsibilities, etc.

Build Your Team and Capabilities

Your team’s skills and experience will be crucial for success. Identify the core roles needed, such as:

  • Leadership:– Directors, partners, and general managers to steer strategy and operations.
  • Programme Managers: – Coordinate and deliver training, events, mentoring, etc.
  • Mentors – industry veterans who guide entrepreneurs.
  • Marketing Officer: Staff to promote your services and bring in clients.
  • Admin Officers: – Handle daily operations, accounting, maintenance, etc.

Hire qualified candidates or outsource based on your budget. Offer attractive compensation and incentives.

Conduct ongoing training to build team capabilities on the latest incubation best practices, technologies, tools, etc.

Create your service offerings.

Design and structure your core service offerings to incubate and accelerate startup success.

Training Programmes

Develop training curricula and workshops focused on entrepreneurship, business, and technical skills. Cover topics like:

  • Business plan development
  • Financial management
  • Sales and marketing
  • Leadership and team-building
  • Securing funding and investment
  • Leveraging digital tools and technologies
  • Domain-specific training based on your focus areas, e.g., agritech, fintech, etc.

Deliver hands-on learning using different formats like seminars, bootcamps, e-learning modules, etc.


Screen and onboard industry veterans as mentors aligned with verticals like manufacturing, healthcare, e-commerce, etc.

Enable mentee-mentor relationships and provide frameworks for structured engagement to share insights and advice.


Host periodic programmes to facilitate networking and connections. These may include:

  • Entrepreneur meetups and workshops
  • Investor pitch days
  • Incubator open houses for the community
  • Relevant guest speaker sessions
  • Hackathons and idea competitions
  • Awards programmes to recognise achievements

Other Services

Offer additional services like:

  • Access to investors
  • Discounted SaaS and tools
  • Legal, accounting, and HR support
  • Talent recruitment assistance
  • Prototyping and lab facilities
  • PR and media relations
  • Discounts from partner organisations

Cater your services to address common startup challenges in Nigeria.

Market and Promote Your Incubation Consultancy

Use diverse tactics to create awareness and attract clients.

Website: Have a professional website highlighting your offerings, successes, leadership team, contact options, etc. Optimise SEO.

Content marketing: publish blogs, guides, videos, etc. with insightful incubation advice and success stories. Distribute through social media and PR.

Paid Ads: Run Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn campaigns targeting entrepreneurs in your location.

Partnerships: Collaborate with universities, innovation hubs, government agencies, and other players to reach potential clients.

Referrals: Get introductions and referrals from current entrepreneurs, alumni, investors, etc. Satisfied clients can spread the word organically.

PR and Media: Pitch your incubator openings and achievements to business, technology, and startup media outlets.

Direct Outreach: identify and contact promising startups directly through email, events, etc. with a tailored pitch.

Social media: Promote your brand across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Engage followers with useful, shareable content.

Source Deals and Select Startups

You need a clear and unbiased process for selecting entrepreneurs and startups to incubate. Typical steps include:

  • Applications: Have interested founders apply online by answering key questions about their company, team, stage, experience, etc.
  • Screening: Review applications and filter using criteria like industry, growth potential, innovation, etc.
  • Interviews: Hold virtual or in-person interviews to deeply assess shortlisted applicants.
  • Due Diligence: Have applicants provide relevant documents for verification before final selection.
  • Selection: The most promising applicants are accepted into your incubation program. Inform rejected applicants promptly as well.
  • Onboarding: Collect agreements, programme fees, information, etc. to smoothly onboard new startups.
  • Ongoing intake: Keep sourcing promising entrepreneurs on a rolling basis via promotions and referrals.

Have a committee to ensure an unbiased selection aligned with your incubator goals and focus areas.

Measure performance and results.

Track relevant metrics to monitor the impact and success of your consultancy, including:

  • Number of applicants vs. startups accepted
  • Entrepreneurs mentored
  • Training programmes held
  • Startup team growth and hiring
  • Funds raised by startups
  • Startup valuations
  • Startup products launched
  • Startup exits or acquisitions
  • Client satisfaction scores
  • Revenue and operational costs
  • Consultancy, brand awareness, and engagement

Review insights regularly and use them to refine your model and offerings.

Expand your incubation operations.

Over time, consider expanding your consulting model through:

More locations: Set up incubators in other Nigerian cities based on demand. Maintain oversight and coordination across

New segments: cater to more niches like education startups, blockchain projects, etc. as needed.

Value-added services: introduce more specialised services around IP, scaling, UI/UX, etc. that clients will pay for.

Partnerships: Join hands with other players locally and abroad to improve capabilities.

Investing: Put money into the most promising startups for equity.

Events: Organise major conferences and other ecosystem events. Monetize through sponsorships.

Online programmes: Offer virtual incubation batches and tools to expand reach.

Corporate programmes: customise incubation for innovation teams within large enterprises.

Expansion should align with your overall mission, strengths, and client needs.

Remain Connected to the Local Ecosystem

Actively participate in the Nigerian startup and tech ecosystem by:

  • Joining key associations and networks
  • Attending events as speakers, judges, or sponsors
  • Supporting policy initiatives around entrepreneurship
  • Collaborating with universities and community organisations
  • Sustaining media visibility as thought leaders
  • Celebrating entrepreneurial successes

This boosts your reputation and visibility while allowing you to give back.


Starting an effective business incubation consultancy takes research, planning, resources, and sustained effort. The steps covered in this guide should provide a solid foundation. Stay nimble and innovative when addressing emerging entrepreneur needs in Nigeria’s dynamic ecosystem. With passion and commitment, your consultancy can thrive while enabling startups to succeed.


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