Common Mistakes Tech Startup Founders in Nigeria Must Avoid to Ensure Sustainability


The easiest way to solve 21st century problems and get wealthy while doing it is to start a business that builds solutions for the majority. Too many entrepreneurs get stuck building tech solutions that nobody wants or one that consumes more money than it’s bringing in.

To get it right, there are some mistakes to avoid as a tech startup in Nigeria. In this article, I will be sharing smart ways you can build from the get-go to achieve long term business success.

Let’s get down to business

One of the key things you need to realise is that, apart from strategy, planning and tact is very critical in an economy like Nigeria’s. Some of the ideas and strategies that work in Silicon Valley won’t work in ‘African valley’.

Ola Brown, founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, believes that “Silicon valley-ism in Africa has actually held us back as we continue to build great products that aren’t useful to our people.”

Having this in mind when you are starting out is already advantageous for founders.

Another important thing is for founders to under-promise the market but over-deliver. Successful tech startups like Paystack have consistently over-delivered to their investors and even customers. They are known for bringing improvements and innovations that wow the market and all stakeholders.

According to Paystack CEO and Co-founder, Shola Akinlade, one of the company’s main goal involves speed and the testimonials on the company’s website reveal that the company is doing this and more.

source: Paystack wall of love

If you look at the landscape, you will find that businesses that succeed, even the foreign ones, are those that are very tactical, especially with applying local intelligence.

Smart founders have patience…lots of it

Yes, many of these startups are not patient in any way. They want to start today and blow tomorrow.

It is very important for budding entrepreneurs to patiently go through an incubation period and excite their investors to inject more funds rather than being on negative and still asking for more money and new investors.

It has become fashionable for startups to keep looking to raise money without looking at their book balance. And this explains why there is a high failure rate among startups as investors must, at some point, take a business decision not to put in more money which eventually leads the business to bleed to death.

Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, has cautioned that startups must be seen to deliver on their promises beyond just raising funds or using investor capital to fund flamboyant lifestyles.

Never assume. Research is king

Never base your business decisions on assumptions. This is one of the number one killers of businesses in Nigeria and Africa.

According to the American author Robert Kaplan, “Most business decisions are based on an underlying assumption. The problem is that, too often, in business, the assumption is never made explicit, or if it is, its accuracy is never questioned.”

Business leaders need to reevaluate the assumptions that drive critical business decisions.

Yes, we don’t have a good data management system. That means you must set up your own sort of mini-research department or committee to provide you with tailor-made data that can drive your business decisions.

Image source:

Any startup that runs on guesswork is not smart and is bound to fail. If not at the beginning, it will happen at some point.

In conclusion…

Keep hope alive. The Nigeria ecosystem is hash for business, but that doesn’t also exclude the fact that Africa and Nigeria are on the rise and the people who will be part of the new Africa are founders who found ways to keep faith irrespective of the harsh economic conditions.

  1. Keep your eyes on the market and don’t get lost in your invention. I mean, there is no incentive for relaxing. You need to keep your eyes on competitors. Keep your ears on the news and so on.
  2. Tech solutions are very volatile.  A little tweak from somewhere can totally change the market and render your offering obsolete. This is why you should never sleep on what you have built no matter how novel and lovely it might seem.
  3. Make important things important and treat them as urgent.  While it’s always good to dream big, you should be realistic too.  Market testing and many other things will be cheaper for you when you start small. It will also discount the cost of your many mistakes.

So basically, starting small will allow you to gradually work your way up to larger markets as you become a more seasoned entrepreneur.

Image source:

I hope these simple ideas can help you rethink your business or start more intelligently in case you are yet to start!

Best of luck.

To your #moneysense

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Register for Technext Coinference 2023, the Largest blockchain and DeFi Gathering in Africa.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!