How to start a Construction Company without a Dime or from ground zero.

We sit on and around wonderful opportunities that can turn our lives around and make us the millionaires we eagerly wish for. Quoting Samson Makinwa chairman Techo Quip Ltd on the Wealth Platform of Vol no 3/09 the headline reads it is easy to make money in Nigeria there is money all over the streets yet most people can not see it, I can’t but agree with this sayings.
The first thing you need to have before dabbling into the construction industry is the will, you need the determination to do it and you must be patient because is unlike the other everyday industries where you may have jobs to do throughout the whole year, though your company could grow up to actually achieve that, but for a beginner business may not come even for some months before the breakthrough.
Number two is to learn the trade, you can make friends with a contractor or a professional in the field but with vast experience that you can understudy and learn from, he may actually be your friend or a pure professional you have to contact and arrange a time to work for him to have an idea about how things are run.
The next step after few months training or understudying your mentor then you should be thinking of registering a company , however since you are starting with no money down ,I’ll advise you liasewith an established and register company to work with and write proposals, this you will make an agreement with the business name owner on profit sharing before you can finally stand on your own with your name and organise your office.
What you should naturally do is to get an office but your home address could be your office address or use a friend’s office temporarily.
Without the job all the facilities you are running after will be a waste of time and resources, so I’ll advise you start writing proposals to different companies that may need your services, look for a brother, a church member and other people that could be of help in making sure your proposals passes through the right offices.
Then begin to strongly think of given yourself a proper packaging. I mean people loves to look at things at face value in this part of the world, so you can also meet their expectations by looking very good and in the right frame of mindwhen you’ll be going for a presentation. Wear a suit or a corporate dress well ironed, if possible rent a car with a driver for that day. A man was able to secure a contract of hundreds of millions of naira because he was wearing a rolex wristwatch he borrowed for a business meeting. Same as car e.t.c
Before the big jobs start coming, be a subcontractor to some major contractors, our dailies are filled with the advertisement for subcontractors everytime from big time contractors, check Tuesday Guardian newspaper and others. The money you make will help to stand as a contractor ultimately later on and you can be quoting for jobs directly.
Be articulate and bold, you need this if you are going to win any contract .
Find out where to source for equipments before bidding for any project, all projects have their own peculiarities, do not bid for a project because you are desperate to get a job else you might bite your fingers at the long run.
Pretend and present yourself exactly the way the client will like to see you and feel about you, the client won’t be happy to know you are a hungry man that needs their money to get out of poverty, he will also not be happy he is given out a job of a big magnitude to somebody that hasn’t handle a job of that size before. Avoid what will make the client to doubt your competencies.
Use professionals as business partners and leverage on their expertise, just agree with them on a percentage sharing formula and you are on.
Source loans from families and friends especially when there are no interest or is very low, but make sure you are working for an organisation that will pay you in time and they have a record of prompt payments to their contractors, unlike the government contracts that you may be owed for several years.
Lastly pray for success of your projects.

26 thoughts

  1. Yes Bro. I agreed with you on this one totally. Your column is a must for all to see.

    Nice stuff and plz keep it up.

  2. Emma, Thanks so much for all your good work.
    Please kindly tell us.
    What are the prospects for “proper” project management in Naija.
    I took a class “Project management” as part of my under grad program here in the state as an engineering major; using Microsoft project. Here one is able to budget, schedule, and resource and risk manage any project.
    Is this something that is applicable at home? Are people doing it? I understand “we” Nigerians like to take shortcuts and manipulate facts to fit our needs.
    I am really finding it very interesting. Help as you address the issue of starting a construction company. I planned on using it on my small family house project.
    I know there might be other people in here that might find you input very helpful.

  3. @Steve, it is very much applicable here in Naija. Meet the right people and you will not experience target-runaway.

  4. YOU MUST HAVE A DREAM THEN FOCUS ON IT. BE PREPARED TO ALWAYS DO QUALITY JOBS,BE HONEST AND FAITHFUL.YOU MUST BE OPEN TO YOUR CLIENTS ‘COS ONE GOOD JOB WILL BRING OTHER ONES.

    @EMMA PLS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, I LEARN A LOT FROM THIS SITE.

  5. Thanks alot ,in addition try to be creative , in the sense that people especially nigerians love see something beautiful, different , special and NEW.

  6. This is a wonderful piece I av being lukn 4 a very lng tym ago. Pls, wts d role of registering wt professional bodies like NIOB(I’m a builder by training) in startn a constr coy and wen does it necessary. Pls, ur blog is a source blesn and inspiratn to me. Keep it up. I’ll like to meet u personally

  7. Yea… Emman i knw u wrote dis post bcos of me.In fact, it answers all d areas and what i need to knw before establishing my own company.Sir, i wanna ask wether only CAC registratn alone can make me be a registered engineer and can undertake projects without any external queries by ERM

    1. CAC registration can make you a contractor not an Engineer…lol. You can employ an Engineer and undertake any project. Not on your own, you are just the CEO the technical persons must be on board.

  8. hi, sincerely you are doing a good job. Am an urban and regional planner, graduated from OAU. Am presently managing very small set up in Oyo. Although am equiped with machines, like A3 photocopy and printer, A4 printers and computers. Am involved in plan drawing. So please how can I jark up my business, because people in Oyo prefer Quacks (baba suraju, etc). Please i need your help. Thanks

  9. Thanks for your write ups, it has helped a lot of us but Please what bodies do I need to register with to be a qualified builder and what are their requirements

  10. Sir thanks 4 ur gud work. I read Building and i’m also a certified Project Manager. I really want to start up somthing even if its subcontracting although not yet registered with CORBON. Pls advice me on d way 4ward

  11. Hi I can agree with you as we have started our company from zero. We are registered and as you say business will be slow. We took on small jobs to keep going. We now have a bigger one we are starting soon. I however live in the Eastern Cape East London South Africa. I find your advice very encouraging and hope others will take you up on your advice. Thanks.

  12. Well said. I intend to follow this to the letter. If you have more ideas on this I am willing to know about it.

  13. Thanks 4 this piece,i cant believe it was written a couple of years back. This is the proposal i have been nursing in my heart to start jst a month ago without any info frm any where.its exactly the way i hd it that you stated it out here,but the problem hz alw been hw to raise smthng 4 a take off.tho’ ds area is nt my discipline.i blve it cn be acomplish.

  14. nice concept.pls do u accept sub-contractors?Am in to P.O.P (interior and exterior) designing with many yrs experience.please kindly reply,thanks.

  15. I find your article very interesting and educating. God bless you. Please can you give a sample specimen on how to write a building contract proposal. Thank you so much.

  16. I really found this encouraging thanks a lot to Mr Emma you are did a good work here,
    am a builder by profession and otherwise, but am in need of contractor who I will work for as a subcontractor to enable me widen my horizon,
    here is my contact 07035910599

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