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13 things only a Lagos entrepreneur will understand


Apapa-Oshodi-BIG, loud and in-your-face, Lagos is a packed megacity where the streets are teeming with life and the buzz of innovation. Home to nearly 20 million people, Nigeria’s economic nerve center constantly attracts big numbers of people pursuing fortunes and dreams.

For entrepreneurs here, starting and growing a business can be fairly tricky work. It can also be exhilarating and full of opportunities. With all of these in mind, we wanted to know what it was like to set up shop in Lagos. To get a lay of the startup landscape, we asked you to finish this sentence: “You know you’re running a business in Lagos when…”

Using the hashtag #CNNLagos, you delivered giving us the lowdown on the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are 13 signs you are a Lagos entrepreneur – as chosen by people in the megacity.

1. You will always get stuck in traffic: You have to leave for your meetings at least four hours or more ahead of the scheduled time, if you are to make it early.

2. And even then sometimes it doesn’t matter what you wear or how you pitch: The outcome of your meetings most times will depend on the type of car you arrived for the said meeting in. If you come with an Oyinbo man, you will get a response faster.
3. At times, keeping the lights on can be a struggle (and not because you didn’t pay the bill): You know you are running a business in Lagos when generator is your most expensive employee. Generator is also your most needy employee. Whenever you can’t satisfy her desires, so she’s off duty.

4. Not that a little blackout is going to stop you: You know you are running a business in Lagos when the lights go out and the hustle on the streets remains the same, the hustle and bustle to succeed against all odds.

5. Sometimes business can be a waiting game: Expect to wait several hours in the waiting room to have a meeting with a potential new client or partner.

6. But with a huge potential market, the sky’s the limit for a good idea: The massive population of over 15 million people makes it encouraging venturing into one business or the other. lt is like hunting in a thick forest. To succeed, you have to understand the location and habit of your targets!

7. You’ve got to work with officials: There is a heavy political undertone while doing business in Lagos. One way or another you will have to interact with the government. Government levies, taxes and hidden charges could kill your startup before it even began, get ready to grease palms.

8. And then there are the other unexpected expenditures: You know you are running a business in Lagos when touts show up and identify themselves as Local Government/council agents and levy you with some crazy charges.

9. Offers are key to stay ahead of your rivals: You know you are running a business in Lagos when you constantly have to offer discount and credit offers to stay ahead of competition.

10. But despite the trials and tribulations, you can always find a solution: Lagos, the only place where the laws of economics are defeated. It is that moment when all your Silicon Valley and Harvard Business Models don’t make sense anymore.

11. Your phone is constantly stuck to your ear and that means your data plan is hungrier & much more expensive than that new chic you took on your last date.

12. As if getting stuck in traffic constantly isn’t enough, sometimes there isn’t even enough fuel for that four hour plus car ride.

13. But you never give up because the success could be just around the corner: that the potential for success is endless, that you may fail to see a breakthrough 10 times of trying and your 11th attempt becomes the BIG BREAK! And that the opportunity is buried in the chaos – make it here, you can probably make it anywhere.

Culled from CNN

1 Comment
  • Rev

    And yet people like Fashola have the audacity to talk in public…?
    With a business climate like this…
    Only in Nigeria!