Footwear production is one of those ventures that address a basic need. It is very lucrative and can be a source of wealth creation as our Featured Entrepreneur, Idris Oloyede, testified in this interview. In this post, we will look at the basics of starting a footwear production business in Nigeria.
Everybody wears shoes; they are basic fashion accessories necessary to complete an outfit. For this purpose, there is large market and big opportunity for you to make money in shoe manufacturing business. Shoes come in various shapes and sizes, and are worn for different purposes.
Producing footwear requires hard work, skill, effort and creativity. In the end, footwear production is a very rewarding venture.
There are two ways you can start a footwear production company.
One way is to start solo, making the shoes yourself like Idris does. You would need to be trained by someone who is skilled in shoe making. A common practice in Nigeria is to stay under someone for sometime as an apprentice. You would gain skills, experience and a take-off pad to launch your business. This way requires less capital and more time. Most young entrepreneurs start like this.
“I started this business four years ago as an apprentice. I was not born with the skills. I went through the apprenticeship for about a year before I could start producing on my own. I started with using tools from my boss. He was and still is my mentor and so I still use his facilities.” Idris Oloyede (Read Full Interview)
Another way is to open a factory and employ skilled staff to handle production while you handle management. You will need the services of creative shoe designers, production staff, marketing staff, etc. This is usually large-scale and requires more capital because you will need a factory, machinery and whatnot.
Most people who start by themselves usually find it easier expanding into a large factory with personnel and everything. Even if you have the capital to launch a big factory, it might be important to get some skills in footwear production and know exactly what the business is about. So to start this business, get some training first.
SELECTING YOUR NICHE
There are different types of shoes for different functions. By selecting your niche, you will have to decide what type of shoes you want to manufacture. Are they going to be formal or informal shoes? For male, female or children? Selecting your niche before beginning manufacturing gives you a sense of focus and helps you identify your target market.
GETTING A LOCATION FOR YOUR FOOTWEAR PRODUCTION BUSINESS
Most people who make shoes usually start from their homes, especially when they are working on a shoestring budget. It’s usually not a big deal. The important thing is to have access to market for your shoes. If you have the funds to pay for a production site, you may want to locate your company close to your target market. Also consider access to raw materials when you choose a location. This would reduce cost of transportation and other utilities.
Tools and Raw Materials
You need tools and materials to get started. These are usually taken care of when you work under a professional as part of your training. This is one reason training is very important. There is no one-size-fits-all equipment in shoe making so you know exactly what you need when you get trained.
Most fancy shoes are made of leather. Some others, which are less fashionable, can be made from rubber and even plastic. Acquiring the raw materials needed for production depends on what type of shoe you want to manufacture and what your target market is.
After everything has been put in place you can now start production. If your intention is to start small, you might not require heavy machinery. The production process depends on the type of shoe to be made. Basically it involves; cutting the materials, creating the base and the heel, creating the top and side of the shoe and gluing or sewing them together. Other production process might involve packaging and transportation of the shoes to the warehouses and market for sell.
Branding involves creativity; it is a necessity that you must put in place if you desire to stand out among the competition. Branding could be done in many ways, e.g. printing a peculiar logo in all you shoes, making a design that catches the eye, packaging you shoes in a unique style, etc. It is both a good market strategy and a way for costumers to identify your shoes. I wrote an article that guides you on making brilliant logos for your brand.
MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
To stay relevant in this dynamic evolving business of footwear production, you will need good market strategies. Use all available means to advertise your business. For a small-scale business, the cheapest, yet effective advertising method you can use is word of mouth. When you produce high quality shoes, your customers will spread the word about your craft. The catch is you have to make quality shoes.
If your budget is more robust, you could advertise your business on newspapers, magazines, television and radio. You could also sponsor entertainment show that will advertise your brand to the public.
To increase sales you could apply for contracts, to supply to big clients that will need large quantity of shoes. Examples of places where you may find big clients are; schools, government organizations like the army, navy, etc.
I put this section last for a reason. Most aspiring entrepreneurs spend so much time writing a business when they know almost nothing about the business. This is both time-wasting and unproductive. Of course, you need a business plan to decide the long-term feasibility of the business but, in the footwear production business, you need training and skills more.
The time you will spend writing a business plan could be better spent learning the art of the craft. When you learn, and you have the details, you are better informed to write a useful business plan.
Everybody needs shoes, and everybody wears them. Most people have more than one pair, other have closets full of shoes. The opportunities that lie in footwear production business are real and ever-present. With creativity and style, you could invest in this business and enjoy financial freedom.
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Feature Image Credit: CrockettandJones.com