There is a step-by-step process on how to formally start and register your business in Nigeria; with topics ranging from choosing your business name, choosing the right structure, checklist of things you should do before starting; and the procedures for registering your business at the Corporate Affairs Commission.
One of the main challenges facing Nigerian start-up entrepreneurs is the lack of affordable infrastructure. It’s hard to make the purchase of office stationery a priority over buying raw materials for your products and services. Many would agree on the need to manage overheads as a small business, and we have come up with a list of useful and free tools you can use to make your start-up as efficient as any organisation out there:
If you are a one-man band, chances are you don’t need very complex accounting software. You’ll need to be able to create and track invoices, and you’ll need help with filing taxes. You might even need to figure out VAT, but you will be working with relatively small sums and relatively straightforward calculations. If that’s all you need, NCH Express Invoice is a great option.
You can quickly create customised, branded invoices, quotes and orders. You can set automatically recurring invoices, and add multiple users. Once you’ve set up a customer account, all you have to do is type in the customer name and product detail, and it generates the invoice for you. You can even access the program remotely.
The only catch is that it’s only free for individuals or businesses with fewer than five staff members, which you have to confirm each time you access the software.
TurboCash is an accounting tool that you can download directly to your computer, so that you don’t need the cloud or internet access to use it (though that also means you can only use it on computers that have it). It bills itself as “a community developed, top drawer, SME accounting package” that gives small business owners the accounting tools the big international companies use. The program allows you to invoice, control stock, track creditors and debtors, do VAT accounting, manage balance sheets and income statements, and run all manner of reports.
Unlike many other free packages, you can add other people to your account, so several people can manage the books. You can also manage several companies using one program. Still, the program is not made for those unfamiliar with accounting, and it does take some time to get used to. If you need more detailed instructions, you can get the Accounting Made Easy ebook, which shows you how to make the most of TurboCash 5 for a $25 donation.
Like TurboCash, gnuCash is an open source, completely free accounting program that you can download directly to your computer. However, this program is more user-friendly and flexible. Its usefulness is in its reporting: it comes packed with 40 financial report templates, making it easy to generate everything from a basic profit and loss, to much more complex reports.
It also generates graphs that help you track your finances more easily. It has all of the tools a small business owner needs to track finances and plan for the future. Best of all, it is device agnostic and beginner friendly. You can use it on Apple, Windows, Linux and other operating systems. It is designed to be easy to use, and if you do want to access it on the go, you can download the Android app.
Wave is one of the more well-known free accounting software options out there. It is slick, professional and based in the cloud, so it hits a lot of the notes modern entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners respond to.
It works a bit like Spotify and other freemium offerings: you can use a limited service, and it serves you with ads and email offers in order to keep the service free. In the limited service, it does include unlimited invoicing capabilities, including the ability to take credit card payments from digital invoices. It can also integrate with your other business accounts, including your online bank account, PayPal account, digital invoices and more, so it can automatically generate reports and track your finances without you needing to manually input anything. It can also automatically manage the payroll, so you and your employees get paid on time without any effort on your part.
QuickFile considers itself “an accounting system for the non-accountant”, and so it has been designed from the beginning to be as simple and effortless as possible. It even takes you through the whole process with a step-by-step tutorial when you first log in.
That said, its simplicity doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It just means it is designed to make accounting as quick as possible. For example, you can upload months’ worth of accounts and sweep through them, tagging and sorting through incomings and outgoings with just a few clicks. It allows you to add payment options including PayPal, Bitcoin, Stripe and other online payment options. It also creates back-ups of your files every 15 minutes, automatically, so you don’t have to worry about losing all the work you have done.
These five free accounting tools each offer something a little bit different, whether you are confident as a bookkeeper or you just want to blow through it as quickly as possible. All you have to do is find the one that is right for you, and you can start managing your business with the same professionalism and efficiency as the big agencies and companies you never thought you could compete with. Indeed, once you have the right tools at your disposal, the sky really is the limit for you and your start-up business.