Best business in Nigeria: 13 best-performing SMEs in 2023


By Daniel Asikpo Sep 02, 2023


One can boldly affirm that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of any thriving economy. Nigeria is no exception adding to its massive population.


These dynamic enterprises play a vital role in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, creating jobs, and enhancing the overall business landscape.


Image representation of business in Nigeria


The process of getting a business up and running can be tedious and most times discouraging. From having a business plan to making visibility studies and having to source for the needed capital in terms of finance. In a Nigerian economy where price keeps skyrocketing and the cost of establishing businesses continues to increase, it's enough to shy off potential entrepreneurs.


That's why I'm here for you. In recent years, several SMEs in Nigeria have stood out as exemplars of success, resilience, and innovation. You don't need to have so much capital before you can venture into some businesses which can yield you lucrative profits. In this article, we delve into some of the best-performing SMEs in Nigeria that have been making waves across various sectors in 2023 with startup capital ranging from N100,000 to N1,000,000.


Sit back, relax, read and learn.


Best Performing SMEs in 2023


1. Real Estate Agent


The real estate agency is a lucrative business to set up and get involved in the field of making money. It requires less capital to get started. The population of Nigeria is on the increase and there is always a need for shelter. This business moves in the urban areas. Real estate agents get commissions (a certain percentage) for linking a tenant to a property owner after all transactions have been completed. You don't need to own the house, reducing the risk of avoiding extra stress or additional expenses.


Tips: The cost of starting an agent business should be from N100,000 if you wish to start with an office and get some licensing. However, some do start without owning an outlet. The disadvantage here is that it reduces your business reputation. A good agent should always study their clients (especially the tenant) to know how reputable they are before linking them with property owners. This boosts your confidence at both ends of the business participants.


2. Point of Sales (POS) business


You don't need to be reminded how POS agents were hotcakes during the cash crunch in early 2023. Though the market has been stabilized, it is still generating lucrative income. Why waste transport to the bank to cue in the line or even end up being frustrated if the ATM runs out of cash? That's why this business will continue to make waves. Startup capital is not much, all you need is to set up a small kiosk in a busy environment, get yourself a POS machine from the needed agency and there you go.


Tips: Always ensure to check charge differences between several POS service providers. As earlier stated you will need a busy environment. Avoid running out of cash as this affects customers' turnover who won't want to end up frustrated. You can kick start with N200,000 just to have enough transaction capital.


3. Laundry/dry cleaning services


The closest thing to a human body is cloth I must say. People love to dress well and neat before going out. Cleanliness is next to godliness and also a good hygiene practice. People are too busy to meet up with the chores of having to spend time washing and ironing these clothes especially when professional touches are required. 


Tips: Laundry businesses are most lucrative in densely populated areas. Even with that, learn to provide the best of services to your customers. The startup capital can be N500,000 to get at least a little touch of genius to the business environment.


4. Delivery Services(Dispatched rider) or Uber Driver


Dispatched riding is another lucrative business one can venture into and make money out of it. You just need to buy a motorcycle and get yourself registered with food vendors or even gadget stores as one of their dispatched personnel.


If you wish to go further you can venture into the Uber driving business. Here, you will need a car registered with Uber or any other such service provider. You just need to take people from one place to another and get paid.


Tips: Whether being a dispatched agent or Uber driver, you need to be acquainted with safe driving as road business requires carefulness. N250,000 can start a delivery business and as for Uber driving you can look for a fairly used car around N500,000 that is still good looking, get yourself registered and off you go.


5. Barbing and hairdressing


While these businesses mostly operate as separate entities in some places both are merged. This industry is lucrative. People tend to barb their hair weekly and women love plaiting their hair. Both add beauty to an individual I must say. 


Barbing is not a difficult skill to learn, you just need to get yourself a mentor as also with hairdressing. You may need to pay a certain learning fee depending on the agreement between you and your tutor.


Tips: If you are already good at hairdressing or barbing you can apply to work for such an outlet and get your daily pay or open your shop. Just hold a budget of up to N500,000 especially for the hairdressing to at least purchase some standard equipment.


6. Rentals and event planning


One cannot absent occasions despite how one may say the economy is tough. Marriages, burial programs, child dedications, birthdays and others to name a few make rentals and the event planning industry a money boomer. Here one needs to be creative in bringing an occasion to the needed standard of the client.


The Rental business is lucrative as you have to make a one-time purchase of chairs, canopies, tables etc. and rent them out for a long time. Adding event planning to it extends your income worth in this industry and you get to be double paid for the occasion.


Tips: To be successful in this business as earlier said creativity is required. Your ability to set up a ceremony to the desired intention of your client can boost you in this field. Keep your ears open to know what program or ceremony people intend to host and always let them know that's your field of specialization. Depending on how big you want to start rest assured with a minimum startup of N500,000 to purchase the necessary materials.


7. Fitness Center


Health is wealth we all know. Setting up a fitness centre can be a life changer if you have the necessary skills and equipment to run it. People tend to enjoy exercising with other friends to motivate and create consistency in keeping fit. You can charge your clients on a weekly and monthly basis depending on your terms of service. 


Be sure to be a good tutor as you will need to have a good interaction style to always make the exercise session interesting. You can always add some health tips to your customers for healthy living.


Tips: A fitness centre should have space to contain the needed number of participants. Though you may not have the money to purchase all the training sets, it's ok to start with a few. Not all training requires lifting so self-building practices can also be ascertained with less equipment. Do well to keep the environment tidy. Be sure to have up to N500,000 for a startup, especially in a spacious environment.


8. Fashion Design/Sales of fabrics.


The fashion industry no doubt is a money boomer in Nigeria. This market continues to soar for those who know how to follow the needed trends in this market. Schools, churches, and organizations don't miss out on their uniforms. 

Even individuals are keen to change the look of their wardrobes. 


If you are not good at sewing, you can sell only the fabrics and still generate a lucrative income from this market. You just need to find yourself a dense and observable area and pitch your business.


Tips: To make the most from this industry, creativity is required, fashion keeps upgrading and you need to be up to date with the latest trends. Creating a good customer relationship is key also in this industry. Starting up a fashion business can need a start-up price of N200,000 but if you are a lover of class it can be way more than this. The fabrics-selling business can be started with N200,000 if you are a good negotiator who can negotiate after-sales payment or extended dates with suppliers.


9. T-shirt Branding/Embroidery


Though it can be spotted to be a branch in the fashion world, T-shirt Branding is another lucrative business for one to venture into and make substantial returns. Here you need to purchase the T-shirt and do the branding for your customers at a service charge per cloth.


Embroidery is another form of branding, but here you don't need the heat press machine but an embroidery machine that weaves in different threads to pull out a design on clothes, especially on fabrics.


Tips: Depending on if one or both fits your startup capital, T-shirt printing alone will cost you up to N500,000. Though the embroidery business may cost less, it requires many skills as you have to be good at creating these designs. Purchasing automatic embroidery machines are very expensive ranging into millions of naira. It is advisable to start with the manual one which can cost around N200,000 to purchase.


10. Fast food/Restaurants and Bar


No one escapes the natural law of consuming food. People get too busy to be involved in cooking especially when one is returning late at night and having to leave for work early in the morning. The population of the country puts the fast food, restaurant and bar business in an indisputable money-making position.


You just need to be a good cook who knows how to prepare delicious stocks to capture the attention of customers. You can even opt to cook and supply on small occasions and get paid. People also love to sit out with friends to spend some time and here is why the bar business continues to boom.


Tips: As earlier stated, learn to prepare a delicious meal. Find a good spot and locate your business (busy environments and junctions). Keep your business environment clean and hygienic, note you are dealing with food. The start capital depends on whether you wish to pitch a tent or rent an outlet. You may be required to have a capital of N200,000 and above.


11. Photo Studio/Cinematography


This is another booming business in Nigeria with the increasing demand for quality photos. Good photos are needed for birthdays, marriages and other important posts, especially online. In Addition to getting quality cameras and other needed tools, you need to be acquainted with Photoshop tools like Adobe and several others to get the best editing to bring out nice and appealing photos for your customers. 


Learn good photography skills and a decent environment to take a shot. Get into the habit of posting your good works to get clients and also be all ears on upcoming events around you to book a spot to deliver quality photos.


Tips: Creating a decent and enticing photo studio is key in this business as some customers may want some touch of class. Though a good business location is always key you can always reach out to clients at different places. The startup capital is from N500,000.


12. Wholesale egg business


Yes, you heard me right. The egg wholesale business is lucrative and easy to start. It does not require much skill, all you need is to spot an egg farm, purchase the eggs and sell them out in crates to your customers. You don't need to go through the hassle of raising the chicken which saves you time and substantial cost.


You may not even need an outlet as you can keep them right in the comfort of your home in crates waiting to supply to the needed customers. 


Tips: Carefulness is needed in handling eggs as they are fragile. Create your customer base to make sure you have a steady supply. Reach out to shops, supermarkets and fast food vendors and let them know about your supply.


13. Gas(LPG) refilling outlet/ gadget sales


The gas business is another money boomer that drafts its success from the food industry. Yes, one needs to eat and the majority of our consumed meals must be cooked. Gas(LPG) makes cooking easy and fast and also helps in keeping cooking utensils clean.


This industry is on a continuous soar as it is undergoing a massive adoption in homes. You need to pitch your gas business in a dense area to get the necessary attention. You can also sell gadgets like gas cylinders, gas tops etc. in the process as these things wear off in the long run.


Tips: Though this business thrives well in dense areas, it must be within the urban region and precisely residential areas. Be acquainted with good safety measures as this is the major danger in this business. 


There you have it, wait no more, venture into one and enjoy good returns on investment. Though the finance may not be readily available, adjust your budget to raise funds to establish yourself. I will also advise that business requires patience and commitment. Do well to play your necessary part and I assure you, success will be inevitable. There will always be opportunities in Nigeria to make money but first, you must be willing to embrace these opportunities.



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