From students dabbling in e-commerce to everyday Nigerians setting up hairdressing salons and other relatively inexpensive ventures, it’s almost like everyone’s an entrepreneur these days. But what exactly makes one an entrepreneur? And what are they supposed to do?
The functions of an entrepreneur include decision-making, hiring and employee management, business risk management and business operations management. Entrepreneurs also handle idea generation, business financing, business plan development, company culture building and public relations.
In this article, we’ll explore the qualities of an entrepreneur and dive into the essential roles they play in businesses. Before that, we’ll explain who an entrepreneur is and highlight the types of entrepreneurs you’ll find in industries. Then, we’ll finish by sharing a step-by-step guide on how to become an entrepreneur in Nigeria.
Who is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is an individual who establishes one or more businesses with the aim of making a profit. These businesses are usually new or meant to solve problems in a new way. Financing and risks are typically borne by the entrepreneur.
In other words, entrepreneurs take ideas and — with limited resources and lots of planning — turn them into businesses that solve (or try to solve) real problems.
These businesses can be in lucrative industries like agriculture and real estate or even online ventures that pay daily — like blogging and influencer marketing.
What are the types of entrepreneurs?
Nigeria has many entrepreneurs — from your favourite hair stylist operating out of a corner shop on your street to big shots like Uche Ukonu, who runs an internet-powered small chops business. We can classify these entrepreneurs into several types (depending on factors like their business size, abilities, personality and qualities) to understand how they solve problems.
The following are the types of entrepreneurs:
- Buyers. Buyers are entrepreneurs with deep pockets who tend to spend their way to success. They use their significant capital to acquire successful (or potentially successful) businesses and grow them to make even more money.
- Hustlers. These entrepreneurs simply do not give up! They use hard work and little to no capital to turn small businesses into successful empires and usually do whatever it takes to be on top.
- Imitators. As the name suggests, these entrepreneurs are copycats and will start or build their businesses using other people’s ideas. However, they’ll usually tweak and improve these ideas to outperform the original inspiration. Other times, they’ll simply replicate a successful business — or business model — in a different location (like Jumia and Amazon).
- Innovative entrepreneurs. Innovative entrepreneurs are serial idea developers and are passionate about finding new ways to solve problems with the aim of bettering lives. An excellent example is Steve Jobs, Apple’s late co-founder, whose innovative products changed the tech industry.
- Large company entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs are the ones most people consider “proper business owners.” They include executives and individuals — like Aliko Dangote, CEO of the Dangote Group — who manage “big” businesses catering to many people.
- Researchers. Researchers take their time to study a business, the market, their product and marketing strategies before even starting a venture. They rely on facts and gather as much data as possible to ensure their business — no matter its size — becomes successful.
- Scalable startup entrepreneurs. Scalable startup entrepreneurs create technology-focused companies to solve problems that can impact the world for the better — usually with financial backing from venture capitalists. Some notable startup entrepreneurs are Odunayo Eweniyi (COO and co-founder of PiggyVest) and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook).
- Small business entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs own and run small businesses like hairdressing salons and small grocery shops (the kind you’ll find on your street). They typically hire one or two employees (mostly family members) and can include service workers like plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
- Social entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs create businesses — usually non-profits — that help solve social problems like hunger, unemployment and even illiteracy. Bill Gates is probably one of the best-known social entrepreneurs today; his non-profit — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — is dedicated to fighting poverty, disease and inequity worldwide.
- Solopreneurs. Solo entrepreneurs run companies made up of just them, although they may have multiple clients. These entrepreneurs typically offer services (like freelancing, content creation or consulting) and manage all the duties related to their business.
Some entrepreneurs might fit into more than one of the types we’ve highlighted above and run businesses that seem to blur the lines of “traditional entrepreneurship.” However, all entrepreneurs play critical roles in their businesses and are crucial to a company’s creation and success.
What are the functions of an entrepreneur?
Now, let’s jump into the thrust of this article — entrepreneurs’ roles in businesses. What do movers and shakers like Dangote, Zuckerberg and your CEO friend with the Instagram thrift business actually do?
Here are the key functions of an entrepreneur:
- Business financing. Entrepreneurs secure funding through various channels, strategically managing financial resources to fund operations, growth and innovation.
- Business operations management. They oversee day-to-day operations, coordinating various aspects of the business to ensure efficient processes, optimal resource utilisation and sustained growth.
- Business plan development. Entrepreneurs craft well-structured business plans outlining goals, strategies and milestones.
- Business risk management. Entrepreneurs assess and manage risks inherent to business operations, making calculated decisions to ensure the longevity and stability of their enterprise.
- Decision making. Decisiveness is a core function of entrepreneurs as they navigate complex choices — shaping the direction of their businesses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Company culture building. Entrepreneurs establish a strong company culture that defines values, norms, and a shared purpose.
- Development of strategic partnerships. Entrepreneurs establish collaborations and partnerships to leverage resources, expand their reach and tap into complementary strengths within the industry.
- Digitalisation of business operations. Entrepreneurs embrace technology to streamline processes, enhance efficiency and adapt to the digital landscape for improved competitiveness.
- Hiring and employee management. Entrepreneurs assemble and manage teams, fostering a productive work environment while nurturing talent that drives the success of their ventures.
- Idea generation. Creativity is a hallmark of entrepreneurs. They continuously innovate and generate ideas that evolve into new products, services or approaches.
- Identification of business opportunities. Entrepreneurs possess a keen eye for recognising market gaps and opportunities, driving them to create solutions that meet customer needs.
- Job creation. Entrepreneurs contribute to local economies and the labour force by creating job opportunities.
- Public relations. Entrepreneurs manage their business’s reputation through effective communication and stakeholder engagement to foster trust and loyalty.
Depending on how they contribute to a venture’s success, you can classify these functions as entrepreneurial, promotional, managerial or commercial. For example, business operations management is a managerial skill that an entrepreneur uses to ensure optimal resource utilisation for sustained growth.
What are the qualities of an entrepreneur?
So, what makes an entrepreneur? After all, just because everyone’s starting a business doesn’t mean everyone’s great at it. Surely, there must be a few key characteristics that set an entrepreneur apart from consumers and other regular folks.
Below are the top qualities of an entrepreneur:
- Adaptability. Entrepreneurs show flexibility by accepting change and adjusting to the market’s shifting dynamics.
- Creativity. Entrepreneurs with a creative mindset can think outside the box, develop novel solutions and differentiate their businesses from the competition.
- Curiosity. Entrepreneurs with an inquisitive attitude explore novel concepts, dabble in trends and embrace technological advancements — resulting in continuous learning and growth.
- Decisiveness. Entrepreneurs must be decisive to take advantage of opportunities and overcome obstacles while guiding their companies to success.
- Devotion. Entrepreneurs show their dedication by remaining steadfastly committed to their vision and inspiring their people to meet long-term objectives.
- Empathy. Empathy enables entrepreneurs to understand customer needs deeply, fostering meaningful connections and delivering products and services that resonate.
- Flexibility. This quality allows entrepreneurs to adjust their plans and tactics as needed. This way, they can respond to unanticipated changes in the business environment.
- Innovation. A commitment to innovation allows an entrepreneur to develop valuable products and services that drive business growth.
- Long-Term Focus. This quality allows an entrepreneur to prioritise sustainable growth over quick wins.
- Management. Entrepreneurs with solid management ability can guide teams, distribute resources and streamline procedures for the best possible business results.
Several other qualities make a good entrepreneur, and you can develop them — as well as the ones listed above — with practice and experience.
How to become an entrepreneur in Nigeria
Entrepreneurship can be an excellent way to make good money in Nigeria. You can enjoy perks like autonomy and work flexibility if you pursue this path. However, we recommend following the playbook below for maximum success if you’re new to being an entrepreneur.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming an entrepreneur in Nigeria:
- Identify a problem. This step is crucial in your journey to becoming an entrepreneur — so take all the time you need. The problem might be small (like the lack of a bakery in your community) or something big (like the fact that there are inadequate infrastructural facilities in Nigerian universities).
- Learn the required skills and build your knowledge base. Take classes, read books, watch YouTube videos and consult experts to learn more about your identified problem. Remember, it’s essential to understand the problem deeply so your solution is effective and your business is successful.
- Build your network. This step might seem like a minor deal, but strong networks can help you find your first customer, connect with a co-founder or even bag an angel investor. Ensure you don’t spend too much time doing this so you don’t lose sight of your goals.
- Write down your business plan. Now, you can outline your solution and business ideas. Feel free to write everything you need to turn the business from an idea to a real-world solution — as well as all the steps, strategies and challenges you foresee.
- Find a profitable market. Your market might not always be in your immediate surroundings (especially if you run a service business). Feel free to use the internet to your advantage, as Chukwudozie Maduabum does with his thriving furniture business.
- Secure funding. Fundraising is a big part of your entrepreneurial journey. The amount you’ll need depends on the type of business you’re developing. You can use your savings. You can also ask family and friends for support, crowdfund or reach out to venture capitalists.
- Launch your business. Develop and launch your business. The best way to launch depends on you, the company and the service or product you offer.
- Build your business. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to continuously build your business — even if it becomes as profitable as Saudi Aramco. You’ll need to find a great location for your business, work on company culture and structure and keep promoting and marketing your services and products.
Please note that the guide we shared above are general steps that apply to most businesses. Therefore, you might need to tweak it a little for best results — depending on the business you’re developing, your customers and the market you want to enter.
Remember, you’re an entrepreneur. So don’t be afraid to try new things!
Entrepreneurs like Victor Alade, Chef Tucker and Omobolade Kolade Mayowa prove that success in business is possible — despite the country’s many infrastructural and economic issues. Their stories show that you can start a great business helping Nigerians.
The articles on the PiggyVest Blog are developed by seasoned writers who use original sources like authoritative websites, news articles and academic journals to perform in-depth research. An experienced editor fact-checks every piece before it is published to ensure you are always reading accurate, up-to-date and balanced content.
- African Journals Online: Challenges facing university education in Nigeria: The way forward
- University of San Diego: 7 Steps to Become an Entrepreneur
- Hubspot: How to Become an Entrepreneur With No Money or Experience
- Indeed: How To Become an Entrepreneur in 7 Steps (With FAQ)
- 16 Top Qualities Entrepreneurs Need To Succeed This Year And Beyond
- JBCN International School: 16 Top Qualities Entrepreneurs Need To Succeed This Year And Beyond
- University of Notre Dame: 8 Personal Qualities of an Entrepreneur
- Harvard Business School: 10 Characteristics Of Successful Entrepreneurs
- Indeed: 10 Important Roles of an Entrepreneur
- Investopedia: Entrepreneur: What It Means to Be One and How to Get Started
- Business Development Bank of Canada: What is an entrepreneur?
- University of Michigan: 4 Types of Entrepreneurship: Which One is Right for You
- Investopedia: Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship: Definitions and Examples