Starting a thriving consultancy in Nigeria is a major opportunity for business experts to capitalise on their knowledge. With proper planning and a meticulous approach, a consulting firm can gain steady clients and build a reputation in Nigeria’s market. This comprehensive guide covers the A-Z of establishing your own consultancy.
Conduct in-depth market research.
Before launching your consultancy, research Nigeria’s consulting industry extensively. Assess the services and rates of established firms. Survey business leaders on their pain points and willingness to engage consultants. This will reveal the gaps in the market and the demand for specific expertise. Useful resources include reports from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and business associations.
Choose a legal business structure.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each legal structure for your consultancy:
Simplest option, but you have unlimited liability for the business’ debts and legal issues. All income flows directly to your personal taxes.
allows for combining resources and expertise with one or more partners. However, partners have joint liabilities and pay taxes on their share of income. A partnership agreement is recommended to control relationships.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Provides protection for your personal assets. LLCs have more credibility but require extensive paperwork and compliance obligations. Profits pass through to members for tax purposes.
Separates the business as a legal entity from its owners. This provides the highest liability protection but involves substantial recordkeeping and taxes.
Consult professionals like lawyers and accountants on the optimal structure. Factor in regulations, paperwork, taxes, and your desired level of ownership flexibility.
Register your consultancy legally.
The exact registration process depends on your entity choice. For instance:
- Sole proprietors must register their trade names and acquire all relevant licences.
- Partnerships and LLCs register with the Corporate Affairs Commission by filing certain forms and agreements.
- Corporations must file incorporating documents, appoint directors, and fulfil various formalities.
You may also need tax registration, like a TIN, from the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Check for additional state and local requirements.
Choose a memorable business name and branding.
Your business name should communicate expertise and established success in consulting. Some examples:
- Vision Consulting Associates
- Acumen Business Advisors
- Winsight Strategists
Ensure the.com domain is available. Create a memorable logo and tagline. Optimise branding across your website, stationery, marketing materials, and signage.
Obtain the necessary business licences and permits.
Common licences and regulatory obligations for consultancies in Nigeria include:
- Business/Occupancy Permit from the State or Local Government
- Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
- Relevant Professional Association Membership
- Business Premises Registration: If you have an office
- Fire Safety and Health Certificates
Also, consider voluntary certifications that boost credibility.
Define your consulting focus and services.
Determine the business consulting niche(s) you will specialise in based on your expertise and credentials. Typical focus areas include:
- Strategy development: planning, competitive positioning
- Financial advisory: profit improvement, budgeting, and accounting optimisation
- Marketing and sales consulting: lead generation, branding, pricing
- Operations optimisation: process streamlining, technology implementation
- Change management: organisational transformation and culture alignment
- Feasibility studies: market entry analysis, location selection
- Corporate training: leadership development, manager upskilling
Delivering targeted expertise within your established domain is key. Avoid being too generalistic as a new consulting firm.
Create an impactful business plan.
Crafting a detailed business plan is essential for mapping your path to success. Key sections to cover include:
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Market analysis
- Competitor benchmarking
- Service offerings
- Management team credentials
- Marketing plan
- Financial projections
- Funding needs and investment requests
Thorough planning will test assumptions and set concrete goals. Review SMEDAN templates.
Assemble the right team and define internal processes.
Surround yourself with professionals whose experience complements your own. Leverage specialists like accountants, HR managers, marketing staff, administrators, and legal counsel.
Also establish standardised processes upfront for client onboarding, project delivery, quality control, communications, and invoicing. This enables smooth expansion later.
Equip your new office properly.
While starting out home-based is fine, an office bolsters credibility with corporate clients. Your new workspace should have:
- Fast broadband internet and robust IT infrastructure
- Physical and digital security and access control
- Professional reception and meeting rooms
- Video conferencing capabilities
- Presentation equipment
- Secure record storage space
Also, invest in data protection solutions like cybersecurity software and encrypted cloud platforms for storing confidential client information.
Set competitive yet profitable rates.
Analyse the fee structures of established competitors to determine appropriate hourly, project, and retainer rates. Factor in expenses, ideal salaries, and profit targets. As a new firm, you may price 10–20% below competitors to attract clients initially. Offer bundled packages for repeat services like strategy reviews and training.
Master Relevant Consulting Software Tools
Leverage solutions like:
- CRM software (Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho) to organise client records and interactions
- Project management (Asana, Trello, and Smartsheet) to deliver engagements efficiently
- Data analytics (Power BI, Domo, Tableau) to derive insights from client data
- Videoconferencing (Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting) for remote consulting
Tools like these amplify consultative capabilities and the value delivered.
Build an eye-catching consulting website.
Your website is often the first touchpoint for prospective clients. Ensure it covers:
- Company overview and experience
- Founder/team profiles showcasing credentials
- Specific service offerings
- Case studies demonstrating client results
- Testimonials and reviews
- Intake forms, contact information, and clear calls-to-action
Refresh website content routinely to boost SEO and conversion rates.
Leverage content marketing across key channels.
Establish your authority by consistently publishing valuable insights. Promote content through:
- Business publications provide expert articles.
- Your company blog publishes strategy guides routinely.
- Social media: share content on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Email newsletters: send helpful resources to subscribers
- Speaking engagements: get exposure at industry events
- Webinars: share tips and trends.
Answer key questions for Nigerian business leaders in your niche.
Network extensively for referrals and alliances.
Actively engage with formal and informal business groups, alumni associations, chambers of commerce, and relevant professional bodies. Attend conferences and association events. Set up referral arrangements with professionals like accountants, bankers, and lawyers to exchange qualified leads. Also, explore partnerships with firms offering complementary services.
Pursue Targeted Business Development
Identify specific companies that fit your ideal client profile and actively prospect them. Get references from current satisfied clients. Connect with decision-makers on LinkedIn. Leverage relational selling: build rapport over time through multiple touchpoints before proposing your services. Offer a free initial consultation or workshop. Send relevant content like articles and whitepapers routinely to stay top of mind.
Provide ongoing value after engagements.
Checking in regularly with clients builds loyalty. Offer benchmarking insights, tips on new regulations, invitations to events, and options for further services. Send birthday or holiday wishes. Ask for referrals and testimonials. Aim to become their trusted strategic advisor beyond just delivering projects.
Develop strategic marketing campaigns.
Paid tactics worth testing to generate new leads include:
- Search ads targeting niche keywords
- Social media ads focused on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Guest columns in industry publications
- Sponsorships of business events and groups
- Direct mail to targeted companies
- Google Ads optimised for professional services
Always track results and refine approaches.
Join relevant industry and professional associations.
Memberships provide numerous benefits, like building connections, boosting credibility, advancing your skills with training, and staying updated on the sector. Top groups include:
- Nigerian Institute of Management Consultants (NIMC)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN)
- Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
- Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD)
Take on leadership roles and actively participate to maximise the advantages of affiliations.
Develop partnerships with accounting and law firms.
Alliances with reputable accounting practices and law firms enable taking on more comprehensive client engagements. Offer integrated solutions combining your consulting expertise with their financial, tax, and legal capabilities. Co-author articles and co-present webinars together. Cross-promote services.
Diversify your service offerings over time.
Once established, expand carefully into complementary services like:
- Recruitment and staffing
- Outsourced CFO services
- Bookkeeping and accounting
- Financial planning and analysis
- Executive coaching and mentoring
- Custom corporate training programmes
This provides multiple revenue streams while leveraging existing competencies. But avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Maintain rigorous quality control.
Consistently deliver top-notch work by standardising processes, monitoring consultant productivity closely, cross-checking work, collecting client feedback, and investing heavily in team training and skills development. Build a reputation for excellence.
By following this comprehensive blueprint, you can build a thriving consultancy in Nigeria’s dynamic business landscape. Stay nimble, network extensively, leverage technology, and focus obsessively on creating real client impact. Nigeria’s growth presents amazing potential for skilled consulting professionals.