Starting a business in Nairobi comes as a natural choice for many residents. The rate of unemployment is high especially among the youth, despite graduating with good grades form the University and other colleges. They are left with the only option of starting a business. Even most of those employed are viewing starting businesses as a necessity, especially with the rising cost of living. Some get a meager income hence the need to start a “side hustle” as is commonly known in the streets of Nairobi. Whatever the reason for starting a business in Nairobi is, the bottom line is that businesses are great a way of making good money.
Having been named as the business hub for East and Central Africa, Kenya is one of the fastest growing Economies in East Africa. As such, it is one of the best places to conduct business, for both locals and foreigners. Nairobi, being the capital city of Kenya, offers numerous opportunities which anyone can take advantage of.
The question comes, which is the best business to start in Nairobi?
Many business ideas stem from an entrepreneur’s skill set, experience, personality, and its potential to earn you money. Therefore, when considering a business idea in Nairobi, you will need to answer some few clarifying questions. You will need to ask yourself what your interests are if there is a need in the market and how your skill set will satisfy that need, who your ideal client is and your ideal work environment. These self-reflection questions are geared toward pointing you in the direction of a certain industry. However, if you want to explore many different business different ideas for 2019, then take a look below.
What you will find below are business ideas for entrepreneurs with a variety of interests and in various industries, but in Nairobi today there is a market for all these services. Therefore, consider your interests and qualifications in any of the outlined fields below and who knows, you might be headed for success which will surprise you.
1. Business to Business Thinkers
Other businesses are some of the most lucrative customers for small businesses. Most of the big companies outsource some of their work, so, if you have a particular skill set, you can start your own B2B business. Instead of being their employee, you can strike it on your own and offer the services that they require.
1.1 Marketing Services
Marketing is a key ingredient of every business which wants to thrive. Although most business owners have an idea of how they want to market their businesses, executing that plan can be mind-boggling. This is where your services as a marketing professional are needed. If the business does not have the capacity to execute its marketing plan, then you can work with them. As a marketing professional, you can help other businesses by writing their blogs, generating ad campaigns, planning and executing their SEO strategy, setting up and managing their social media presence and doing everything else that will sell their company.
1.2 Accounting and Bookkeeping
Let’s face it. Many entrepreneurs are not proficient with accounting and bookkeeping in spite of its crucial role in every business. If you are a licensed CPA or business accounting software expert, you can use your knowledge to help other entrepreneurs in keeping both their personal and business finances in check.
Your work as a bookkeeper and an accountant will involve processing invoices, payroll management, compiling expense reports, generating balance sheets, helping in filing tax returns and making professional recommendations.
Therefore, if you have accounting and bookkeeping skills to help you run your own business, then this is the best business idea for you.
1.3 Business Planning Service
When starting any kind of business, the first thing that you must do is to write a business plan. Although this is very crucial to any business, not all entrepreneurs are capable of comprehending the whole process of writing a business plan. If you have successfully launched and managed several businesses and crafted several business plans, then you can turn that knowledge into a business planning service.
Entrepreneurs are ready to pay you and will be lining up for your services if you are able to see the whole process of writing a business plan. The business plan should include the business overview, the business financial plan including funding plans, competitor research, market analysis, products and services, management team, operations plan among others.
Have you accumulated knowledge in the business world over a long period of time? Then that’s a treasure. You can use your knowledge and expertise to offer consultation services to other businesses. You can strike out as an independent consultant offering your expertise on areas like serving on a company’s board of advisors, speaking on a company’s conferences, or help a company to shape their business strategy.
You can be a consultant in any field of expertise. The bottom line is that starting a consulting business is a great way to make money and you get to work on your own terms.
1.4 Social Media Management
Social media is a huge marketing specialty which most business owners know they should leverage on, but do not know how to do it well. If you have a wit for social media, know your way with words, can write engaging content which will make people take action, and you can post on a regular basis, then consider helping businesses with their social media management.
This role requires that you interact with social media customers on behalf of the company to answer questions and direct customers according to their queries about the brand. You can manage all of a company’s social media channels which may include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, among others.
Often, businesses are born out of an entrepreneur’s passion and creativity. The creative entrepreneurs might have an easy time coming up with a business, some of which are more financially viable than others. The outlined business ideas suit the creative and artistic people, but anybody can learn them and make some good money.
This is a business with a relatively low startup cost and with the right tools, you can start it out from your home. Professional photography is in high demand for corporate events, weddings, social gatherings, family portraits, among others. Photography offers a flexible schedule and it is easy to start while you are still in full-time employment while at the same time to get paid to do something you love. Besides meeting new people, you get to travel and help others capture important events in their lives. Therefore, if you have an interest or are talented in photography take the plunge.
2.2 Furniture Building
This business idea is for the creatives who love working with their hands to build beautiful and custom furniture. This can be done right at your backyard, but as the business grows, you may need to get your own shop. There’s a big demand in Nairobi for sleek furniture and if you can appeal to your customers’ taste, then you are on your way to big and profitable business.
2.3 Events Planning and management
Event planning is becoming popular among both individuals and companies due to the fact that event planners make organizing and planning an event much easier. Event planners handle everything from design, logistics, coordination and ensuring every detail is taken care of. If you’ve been working in the events industry for several years or you love organizing kids’ birthdays and other events like a parent’s retirement, a friend’s graduation, and so on, then it can be profitable if you decide to monetize those skills. The good thing with events planning is that, once you manage your first great event, word-of-mouth recommendations will see your business take off.
2.4 Event Space Rental
In Nairobi, there’s a high demand for weddings, corporate events, birthdays, and fundraisers, but when you look closely, you will notice that there are few venues to host those events. Take this opportunity to start an event venue business. However, setting up an event space may require a lot of capital which will go into building, operational assets, operating expenses and getting the team together.
Before you decide to venture into event venue business, ask yourself if you’ve got the time. Running an event space business requires a significant amount of your time and this can drastically interfere with your schedule. You will need plenty of time to research the location-specific licenses needed, pre-venue and selling timeline and seasons for the event venue.
So, if you plan to start an event space business, find a place that is convenient and comfortable, start your equipment investment small, prepare for miscellaneous costs and price yourself according to the market, or a little lower.
2.5 Interior Decorating
Your love of design can be turned into a lucrative business.If you find yourself decorating your living room for the umpteenth time, then consider doing it for money. A person with artistic capabilities and creative flair is most suited for such business, though you can also take an interior decorating course. Get the necessary licenses and start out with your contacts. To get your services known, you can offer to decorate your neighboring commercial or residential spaces with the help of your personal network. The hardest part is marketing your skills. For you to effectively market your skills, network with other professionals such as real estate agents, home furnishing businesses and architects. Once you get a steady flow of clients, you can charge an hourly fee or on a project basis and partner with furniture stores to work on commission.
Business Ideas for Food Lovers
If you love cooking and you turn your grandmother’s recipe into a mouthwatering dish, then consider starting a business in the food industry. There are numerous food-related business ideas which you can venture into.
- Bed and breakfast
Running a bed and breakfast business is a popular idea among Kenyans, due to the romantic notions associated with it. When you mention bed and breakfast, it brings an image of relaxation in a roaring fireplace, cozy bed and breakfast, and a glass of your favorite red wine. But what does it take to start one? It is not a complicated business to start and all you need is space where you can entertain your guests, be it a guest house, a spare bedroom, or a servant quarter. If you love cooking and entertaining guests, then you can comfortably turn your home into B&B. Besides, it is easier nowadays to market your B&B business using sites like Airbnb.
You can turn your passion for, and skills in cooking into a catering business. However, the fact that you are a great cook or baker does not mean that you are capable of running a successful catering business. You will need more. You will need to research the market to what everybody else is offering so that you can be strategically different. This will give you and an edge over your competition and make your business pick much faster. Identify your customers by liaising with your peers’ business community to find out what companies look for in caterers. Get to know what your customers want beyond food so that you can step up. Choose the niche you want to focus on because this is more likely to bring better returns. For example, you can focus on corporate events, boxed lunches, children parties and so on.
- Food Truck
Food trucks have several distinct advantages over a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. It has low overhead costs, requires less staff and you can reach more customers within a day. However, this is not to say that it doesn’t have its own costs and challenges. On the contrary, you will do a great amount of paperwork and you are required to get all the required legal requirements, which can be quite restricting. If you manage to get the ball rolling, then you are ready to put your famous recipe or mouth-watering desert on the road. Your customers can be found on local events, farmers’ markets, in office complexes and any area where you are likely to get large crowds.
It is advisable to contact your local health department to establish the safety standards required to ensure that your mobile restaurant is compliant.
Starting your own bakery is a viable and profitable business in Nairobi. This is a business you can start without formal training as long as you have baking skills. Getting the necessary equipment and tools can be a bit costly, so you need to prepare yourself well before taking the plunge. Some of the equipment that you will need include an oven, baking pans, electric or hand whisk, spatula, nozzle set, among others.
You will need food handling medical certificate, food hygiene certificate, fire safety certificate, and the trade license. These vary depending on your location. Decide on your niche, get the recipes and ingredients ready and be ready to market yourself. Baked goods sell fast in offices, canteens, schools, and in the local shops. Leverage on networking by attending workshops and local events and purpose to attend organized meetups by other bakers.
- Coffee shop
Most people take a cup of coffee, or tea within the first hour of waking up. This tells you the popularity of this industry and its potential for success. Starting a coffee shop can be a fulfilling and profitable venture especially if you are a coffee lover. However, this business can be very capital intensive therefore it is advisable to start lean and get creative. Strive to serve high-quality products so as to have satisfied clientele. Decide if it will be table service or counter service and offer great customer service. Remember to include a great selection of snacks, pastries, and healthy alternatives.
- Restaurant/ Café
Opening and operating a café is one of the most challenging and risky ventures, not forgetting the cost. However, if you are willing to put in the work, it is a very rewarding business which can grow to great heights. This calls for an ambitious culinary individual who is very entrepreneurial. If you would like a safer landing than starting your own restaurant from scratch, then you can reap the benefit from an existing brand’s popularity by opening a franchise.
Business Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Some people enjoy spending their days outside rather than in a cubicle or behind a desk. If spending your day in an office spells disaster for you, the you can consider starting a business outdoors. Check out these business ideas which can get you active while making good money.
- Moving Company
Moving houses is something that all urban dwellers do from time to time. Nairobi residents often change residences due to things like a shift in work station, lack of the necessary social amenities in their current residences, need for a bigger house and so on. Most of those moving experience losses, frustration, and fatigue. A moving company makes work easier for those moving and it comes as their natural choice of moving.
To start this business, you need to have some people who will help you in moving your customer’s luggage, a lorry for transportation and a license. Having an online presence will market you faster as most customers look for these services online. A physical address where the customers can trace you makes you credible and trustworthy and you definitely get customers through referrals.
- Landscape Services
If you don’t mind the sound of lawnmowers, have an eye for detail and love to design, then consider starting a landscaping business. This business entails planting flowers, mowing lawns, designing elaborate landscapes plans for both commercial complexes and residential homes, and ensuring that everything is in rhythm. Most of the upcoming properties need this service and you offer it as a business service. Some of the equipment you need include lawn mowers, trimmers, watering can, fork jembes, spades, and the like.
- Pet Grooming
Animal enthusiasts can turn their passion into a business. This is business which can grow so strive to educate yourself on the areas which you are not very familiar with. Decide the products or services that you want to offer. You can do the pet grooming as the core service which includes washing the pets, as well as improving their hygiene and aesthetics. You can also offer dog-walking, playing and socializing.
Keep in mind that a pet grooming facility may be costly to start, so, strive to keep the costs at a minimum by offering mobile services or offering the services at the clients’ homes.
- Lifeguarding service
This is a service which is in very demand in Nairobi. A lifeguard is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that there is order at the swimming pool by enforcing policies and regulations. They monitor the pool to ensure that there are hazards, and unsafe conditions, while at the same time providing first aid, and performing custodial duties.
If you are certified in CPR or have an experience as a lifeguard, then this business is for you. You can start it along with private swimming lessons for both children and adults. You can offer your services to service pool parties, hotels, residential areas, schools, and any other area where there is a swimming pool.
- Private Tour Guide service
If you are deeply knowledgeable about Nairobi, and you love walking, hiking, biking, and exploring the outdoors, then you can start a specialty tour guide service. Market your services and let people know that they can hire to guide them through Nairobi or if you have a van, you can offer tour guide services countrywide especially to National Parks, slums and art galleries.
Business Ideas for Health and Wellness Professionals
The health and wellness industry is growing rapidly and it has good money. When you look in the nearest cafes and restaurants, you will notice a significant increase in green juices, smoothies, and gluten-free foods. Helping people look and feel at their best is a business venture which is gaining popularity and a lot of people are willing to spend money to better their health. Businesses that are centered around the health and wellness industry are outlined below.
If you take pride in helping others achieve their health goals, then consider starting a business as a health nutritionist. Share your clean-eating habits with others and get paid while helping others lead a healthy lifestyle. People want to live longer, eat healthier weigh less and think smarter. You can help people achieve these goals as a personal diet coach, a consultant, offer classes and hold seminars, or work with health clubs.
Doulas work at home, hospitals or both to help expectant mothers with all non-medical aspects of labor and delivery processes. This is a business which you can start with very little money because you do not need an office, rather you go to your clients’. For you to work as a professional doula, you need training and certification. If you do not want to work a regular 9-5 in a health facility, then this business will help you earn while helping to bring new life to the world.
- Personal trainer
A personal trainer business is for you if you enjoy working out and helping people stay fit. You will share your enthusiasm for fitness with other people while making some money. This business requires you to have a health and exercise background. Personal training has a large market and it involves people of all body types, ages, and goals. The industry for fitness is growing fast and steadily and the growth is not expected to slow down any time soon.
As a licensed personal trainer, you can work in a gym, sports center, or simply make house calls where you will be working with the client’s equipment. So, when you are starting out, you can go with the latter. Strive to become a certified instructor on various workouts like Zumba and eventually open your own studio.
- Massage Therapist
Massage therapy is in high demand in Nairobi from people who want to relax their bodies, especially after a busy day’s schedule, rehabilitate injured areas of the body, reduce anxiety and stress and for the many health benefits of massage. To run a business as a massage therapist, you will need training and licensing. Certification will make you credible and it will increase your number of clients.
To start with, you can open an in-house studio, do house calls to your calls or you have enough capital, open your own premises. When you decide to open your own studio, you will need tools like massage board, massage oil, towels, among others.
- Beauty Care services
The need to look and stay beautiful is one of the things which have made the beauty industry remains relevant and popular. You can offer your services as a hair specialist, skin specialist, offer pedicure and manicure services, makeup specialist or a barber. This business is easy to start, and you can start it out as a part-time venture before you can venture fully and open a brick-and-mortar space. You can offer your services at your client’s homes, over the weekend, or after work in the evenings to build a client base.