An empirical study of Nigerian entrepreneurs: success, motivations, problems, and stress.
Article Type:
Business success (Surveys)
Employee motivation (Analysis)
Businesspeople (Surveys)
Entrepreneurship (Surveys)
Chu, Hung M.
Kara, Orhan
Benzing, Cynthia
Pub Date:
Name: International Journal of Business Research Publisher: International Academy of Business and Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 International Academy of Business and Economics ISSN: 1555-1296
Date: March, 2008 Source Volume: 8 Source Issue: 2
Product Code: 9911210 Motivational Techniques
Geographic Scope: Nigeria Geographic Code: 6NIGR Nigeria

Accession Number:
Full Text:

Two hundred and forty three entrepreneurs in Lagos, the former capital city of Nigeria were surveyed. Results show that 69% of respondents are male and 31% female. The average age of entrepreneurs is 36.7. The time devoted to their businesses is approximately 37.8 hours per week. When asked to indicate the reasons for becoming business owners, Nigerian entrepreneurs suggested independence, satisfaction and growth, increasing income and past training/experiences as important motivators. Factors contributing to business success were mainly attributed to hard work, excellent management skills, and good customer services. Charisma and reputation for honesty were also ranked high on the list. Among the problems encountered by entrepreneurs, unreliable employees was the most critical. Weak economy, electricity shortages and unsafe location were also mentioned as obstacles preventing entrepreneurs from achieving their goals. The relationship between stress and business ownership were also assessed. In spite of business success attained and family support received, entrepreneurs reported that they did experience business-related stress.

Key Words: Entrepreneurship, Success, Motivation, Problems, Stress, Nigerian Entrepreneurs, Micro and Small Enterprises


Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) are the leading force in the development of African economies. They are essential for economic growth in many developing countries. Entrepreneurial activities such as innovation, risk bearing, employment creation, finding new opportunities and the commercialization of their inventions have been contributed to the prosperity in all regions of the world (Schumpeter, 1950; Ukaegbu, 2000). In Europe, the private sector employs 60 percent of the workforce (Wintermantel, 1999). Japan, for example, has six million small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the country, and 70 percent of the total labor force (METI, 2007). In Taiwan, 96 percent of all small firms are SMEs employing 78 percent of the nation's work force (Lin, 1988). Results of a study conducted by Lee (1998) indicate that South Korean SMEs provide more than 70 percent of all jobs in the country.

MSEs are making significant contributions to Africa's economic growth. Ghanaian micro-enterprises which employ less than 5 people, accounted for 70 percent of country's workforce (Government of Ghana, 2303; World Bank, 2006). In 2003 Kenya's private sector employed 3.2 million people and contributed 18 percent to the nation's GDP (OECD, 2005). The impact of small businesses on the Nigerian economy is difficult to accurately measure, but it is believed to be highly dynamic and significant. It has been estimated that between 45 and 60 percent of the urban labor force work for private enterprises (Nwaka, 2005). Ariyo (2005) suggested that the Nigerian private sector provides 50 percent of the country's employment and 50 percent of its industrial output.

Because of the importance of entrepreneurship to the growth of an economy, this study intends to uncover some problems faced by Nigerian entrepreneurs, their motivation for business ownership, and the factors contributing to their success. Correlations between business success and family support to job related stress are also examined. Results from this study hopefully can provide some helpful information to policy decision makers in creating an environment conducive to the development of the private sector.


Literature relevant to Nigerian entrepreneurship is limited. It is necessary to rely on studies of small businesses in other countries to have a more complete understanding of the motivations, perceived success factors and problems encountered by small business owners in Nigeria.

2.1 Motivation for Business Ownership

Motivations for business ownership exist in different forms and types, but the following are most often cited. Kuratko, Hornsby and Naffziger (1997) and Robichaud, McGraw and Roger (2001) indicate that motivations can be grouped into four categories: 1) extrinsic rewards; 2) independence/autonomy; 3) intrinsic rewards; and 4) family security. Extrinsic rewards are the economic reasons that entrepreneurs work, while intrinsic motives are related to self-fulfillment and growth. Because Kuratko et al. and Robichaud et al. focused on the relationship between motivation and business success, they did not indicate which were the strongest motivations encouraging individuals to become a business owners.

Surveys conducted among entrepreneurs in developing countries provided some interesting information. In their study of Vietnamese small business owners, Swierczek and Ha (2003) found that challenge and achievement are more significant and more important motivators than are necessity and security. Results suggest the existence of an entrepreneurial orientation and a new emerging culture in Vietnam that includes greater risk-taking and forward thinking. A study of motivation by Benzing, Chu & Callanan (2005) discovered some economic discrepancies among regions of Vietnam. It was found that entrepreneurs in Ho Chi Minh City were motivated by personal satisfaction and growth, while business owners in Hanoi cited the need to create jobs for themselves and family members. Compared to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City is more prosperous. The economic landscape in the Southern part of Vietnam is brighter, which affords people the opportunity to pursue higher levels of need such as "personal satisfaction and growth". In Romania, income needs are significantly stronger motivators than self-satisfaction and personal needs. The two strongest motivators are to increase income and to obtain job security (Benzing, Chu & Szabo, 2005). In their study of entrepreneurship in China, Pistrui et al. (2001) reported that personal and family security were the primary motives for people to start a business.

On the other hand, Mann and Thorpe (1998) suggested that Asian entrepreneurs in general indicate "making more money" as the most important force leading them to become business owners. White entrepreneurs, however, were motivated by a desire for independence via business ownership. Ugandan entrepreneurs reported that "making a living" or "making money" is the most important reason for starting a business (Bewayo, 1995). Findings from the study also showed that a majority of entrepreneurs (61%) preferred business ownership over working for a corporation, because of autonomy, freedom, and independence (Bewayo, 1995).

A survey conducted among new business start-ups in 11 countries found six reasons motivating people to become entrepreneurs. They include the need for approval, the perceived wealth, the degree of communitarianism, the need for personal development, the need for independence, and the need for escape (Scheinberg & Macmillan, 1988). These findings indicate that business owners in different countries have different motives for business ownership. American entrepreneurs considered need for independence the most important reason for starting a business. Italian business owners, however, ranked communitarianism first on the list. In Australia and Great Britain, entrepreneurs cited money as the reason for becoming business owners, while the Scandinavians rated this factor the least significant (Mitchell,2003).

Asked to indicate the reasons for business ownership, Nigerian entrepreneurs ranked monetary rewards and profits as the most important. Assertiveness and personal liberty were also frequently mentioned. Being accountable only to oneself was cited as one of the cherished factors for starting a business (Akande,1994). Results from a survey of Nigerian women entrepreneurs showed that their main reasons for engaging in business is to reduce poverty and to reverse the deteriorating economic conditions (Woldie & Adersua, 2004). Although rich in natural resources, the majority of Nigeria's population has become poorer. A study of Nigeria by the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University indicated that per capita gross domestic product (GDP) fell from US $1,215 in the year of 1980 to US $706 in 2000 (Mbeki, 2005). Another study showed that the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line went up from 19 million in 1970 to 90 million in 2000, while the income gap rapidly expanded. It was reported that in 1970 the top 2 percent of the population earned the same income as the bottom 17 percent. But by 2000, the income of top 2 percent was equal to that of the bottom 55 percent (Birdsall & Subramanian, 2004).

Results from previous studies indicate a strong link between entrepreneurship and economic development. The findings further suggest an urgent need for Nigerian policy makers to undertake more positive steps to encourage enterprise establishment. Results of this changing policy would be a reduction of the gap between the rich and the poor which would lead to a more prosperous and stable Nigeria.

2.2 Business Success Factors

Factors contributing to business success are varied, but a few sets of factors seem to be more commonly agreed upon by researchers. These factors may be grouped into the following categories: 1) the psychological and behavioral traits of entrepreneurs, 2) the managerial skills and training of entrepreneurs, and 3) the external environment. This study concentrates on the managerial skills, training, and the external environmental conditions that promote business success. These factors are selected because they are more easily affected by policymakers.

In his study of South Pacific entrepreneurs, Yusuf (1995) found that the most critical factors contributing to business success consist of good management skills, access to financing, personal qualities, and satisfactory government support. Jamaican business owners consider the marketing factor the most critical ingredient for the success of a business (Huck and McEwen, 1991). From the results of a study among 25 Kenyan entrepreneurs, Neshamba (2000) indicated that the owner-manager's previous experience and skills acquired on the job are important factors to business success and growth. Other critical factors include knowing the market and understanding the needs of customers, access to capital, assistance from family members, and networking with friends from former schools and colleges. Finally, hard work, as evidenced by long working hours contributes to the success of entrepreneurs. In another study of Kenyan entrepreneurs, Pratt (2001) found that the availability of capital, possession of business skills, previous experience, and support of family members are essential for business success.

Findings from a study of Nigerian women business owners showed that a high self-concept regarding their role in business and a commitment to business can help women to become more successful entrepreneurs (Ehigie & Umoren, 2003). The report further indicated that entrepreneurial success depends on psychological factors such as self-concept, managerial competence, work-stress and business commitment. Self-concept is defined as those ideas the individual has of himself or herself that he or she learned in relationship with others (Sabin, 1954). As a result, if one's self-concept is positive, he/she tends to act and perceive the world positively. If it is negative, he/she will feel dissatisfied and unhappy. Rogers (1980) and Ross & Lyle (1978) suggested that women can be successful in any venture if they have a positive frame of mind. Marshall (1998) took a step further when postulating that females who have a high self-concept of themselves and believe in their capabilities can accomplish any task. Other factors such as access to adequate education, training and finance are believed to be critical for Nigerian women to be successful (Kitching & Woldie, 2004). Finally the role of extended family in providing capital for new firms and facilitating the apprentice training of its members is important to the success of prospective entrepreneurs (Nafziger,1969).

Understanding conditions required for successful entrepreneurs, Nigerian policymakers may be able to provide them with appropriate tools to allow them more success in their business ventures.

2.3. Problems Encountered

The challenges faced by entrepreneurs in developing countries are monumental and quite similar. Commonly found among these is the unstable and highly bureaucratic business environment. The laws governing private enterprise, especially business registration and taxation systems, are believed to be overly complex and difficult to understand. Contract and private property laws are often poorly designed and/or enforced. As suggested by Kiggundu (2002), Pope (2001), and Stevenson (1998) the unfavorable institutional/regulatory environment is often accompanied by the added expenses of corruption and bribery. Other problems encountered by entrepreneurs in transition economies include poor macroeconomic policies, limited access to short-term and long term financial capital, and a lack of managerial experience.

Results from a survey of more than 3600 entrepreneurs in 69 countries (Kisunko, Brunetti & Weder, 1999) showed that the most critical problems faced by business owners in South Asia and Southeast Asia were the high taxes and tax regulations. Inadequate infrastructure, inflation, labor regulations, and regulations governing the starting and running a business were also considered obstacles preventing entrepreneurs from achieving their goals. In the Middle East and North Africa, lack of infrastructure was the most important obstacle to doing business. Corruption, high taxes, tax regulations and financing were closely followed behind. Ranked high among problems faced by entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern Europe were high taxes and tax regulations, followed by financing, corruption, and inflation. Small business owners in Latin America considered corruption and inadequate infrastructure the worst problems. They are followed by crime and theft, financing, high taxes and tax regulation. In Sub-Saharan Africa the most critical problems were corruption, tax regulations and high taxes, inadequate infrastructure, inflation, crime, theft and financing.

Research among small businesses in East African countries (Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda) indicate that the private sector is overregulated with regulations that overlap and duplicate each other at central and local levels. Entrepreneurs are often subject to lengthy and costly delays in clearances and the approval process (Macculloch, 2001). According to the World Bank and IMF economists, the number one problem faced by Ghanaian entrepreneurs is inadequate access to credit (Chamlee-Wright, 1997). Steel and Webster (1991) also reported that the most serious challenges encountered by Ghanaian business owners is the unavailability of capital. In fact, most small scale entrepreneurs are not very good prospects for banks and financial institutions. They have little means for collateral and lack formal education/training in business practices. As a result, they pose more risk than benefit to the banks and other financial establishments (Morewagae, Seemule & Rempel, 1995).

Nigerian entrepreneurs reported that they were frequently harassed by government officials who extorted money from their businesses. Poor infrastructure including bad roads, water shortage, erratic electric supply, and poor telecommunication system represent additional challenges faced by small business owners (Mambula, 2002). Difficulty in gaining access to bank credits and other financial institutions proved to be a major obstacle hindering the process of Nigerian entrepreneurial development, but the most serious and damaging problem threatening the state of entrepreneurship in Nigeria is a lack of government interest in and support for MSEs (Ariyo, 2005). This poor attitude toward the private sector explains why there has never been any real attempt on the part of government to develop any programs or lasting policies to support small businesses.

In general, Nigerian entrepreneurs face the same set of problems as those of business owners around the world. But the stance of government toward the private sector seems to create the most damaging effect on micro and small enterprises (MSEs). Results of this study would provide more insight into the on-going obstacles faced by entrepreneurs so that a more conducive environment can be created to promote the development of entrepreneurship.

2.4. Stress and Business Ownership

Stress is believed to be an integral part of business ownership. It is a result of heavy workloads, excessive risks involved (Palmer,1971), and a higher need for achievement by entrepreneurs (Brockhaus, 1982; Langan-Fox & Roth, 1995). It is defined as an internal state or a reaction to whatever a person believes to be a threat to him or her, whether it is a real or imagined (Clark & Watson, 1991). Consequences of a high level of stress may be observed in the forms of absenteeism, accidents, increase in health care cost or declining productivity (Roberts, Lapidus & Chonko, 1997; Crampton et al., 1995; Hall & Savery, 1986). Ivancevich and Matteson (1980) estimated that the stress-related cost to business in the United States is equal to more than 10 percent of gross national product.

Researchers have attributed stress to many causes. Chay (1993) believes that stress exists when perceived demands exceed perceived resources. In other words, when people feel demands are threatened by inadequate resources, stress occurs. Findings from a study by Vasumathi et al. (2003) suggests that stress arises from expectations, greed, desires and ambitions. When discrepancy exists between these sources and the outcome of the efforts to achieve success, stress takes place. Other factors leading to job stress may include long working hours, too much competition, high pressure deadlines, excessive rules and regulations, inadequate support, work load and personal conflict (Roberts, Lapidus & Chonko, 1997; Crampton et al., 1995; Hall & Savery, 1986).

In a study of Nigerian entrepreneurs, Akande (1994) identified several sources of stress including loneliness, the time demands of business, conflicts with partners and employees and their needs for achievement. The author further elaborated on the causes of stress by explaining that although small business owners are surrounded by many people, they still feel isolated for the reason of not being able to confide their thoughts in any one of them. On the other hand, business ownership may provide them with good material rewards, but the demands of their jobs do not allow them to spend their wealth. Since entrepreneurs work with business partners and employees to bring goods and services to customers, on a daily basis they often experience disappointments and frustration in their relationships with them. Finally, small business owners are hard drivers for success and failure to succeed causes stress.

As indicated earlier, stress may create adverse consequences for entrepreneurs, stress management and control are needed. A few studies on methods of stress reduction suggest social support as a good medicine for alleviating stress (Rahim, 1996; Chay,1993). Research results from a study by Mack and McGee (2001) however did not support the contention that social support mitigates work and non-work stress. The evidence on the relationship between social support and stress has been inconclusive. Some studies (Ganster & Mayes, 1987; Etzion, 1984; Kobasa & Puccetti, 1983; Abdel-Halim, 1982) found a negative correlation between them. While others (Ganster, Mayers & Fusilier,1986; Kaufman & Beehr, 1986; Fisher, 1985) reported opposite results. Other researchers indicated that individuals with high internal locus of control tend to use support resources more effectively and therefore can reduce the level of anxiety coming from stress (Sandler & Lakey, 1982). Cohen (1988) and Chay (1993) postulated that individual perception and personality characteristics determine whether an event is harmful or benign which may lead to more or less stress. Results of a study by Latack, Kinicki and Prussia (1995) show that an ability to control the situation may help a person better cope with stress. Further, if tasks performed are more complex and interesting, the worker experiences less stress (Mack & McGee, 2001). Flexible rules and less rigid procedures diminish stress level (Nasurdin, Ramayah & Beng, 2006), but an organizational climate filled with extreme competition and lack of interaction is poised to become stressful (Wong and Wong, 2002).

Although fully aware of the dangers arising from excessive stress, many Nigerian entrepreneurs are unwilling to deal with the problem. The reason for this reluctance may be attributed to the fact that business owners who experience a daily struggle for survival may not consider stress management important. It is an unnecessary distraction from business life (Akande, 1994). In concurrence with Akande's findings, Boyd and Gumpert (1983) indicate that entrepreneurs are more concerned with their challenges and successes than spending their busy time dealing with stress and anxiety.

Mixed results from stress studies suggest that further research is needed. Nigerian entrepreneurs seem not to pay much attention to stress in spite of living a severely stressful life. Being aware of harmful consequences caused by stress, Nigerian small business owners may be more willing to effectively deal with stress which might lead them to a more successful and productive career.


3.1. Subjects

Subjects were 243 entrepreneurs in Lagos, the former capital city of Nigeria with a population of eight million (Wikipedia- Free Encyclopedia, 2007). It is an overcrowded city averaging six people per room. In 1991, the capital was moved to Abuja but Lagos remains the economic center of Nigeria. For the purpose of this study, an entrepreneur is defined as an individual who owns and operates the retail, wholesale, service or manufacturing business. The OECD further indicates that a micro-enterprise is the one that employs ten persons or less, while an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) has less than 250 employees. The respondents of this study are primarily micro-enterprises.

3.2. Procedures

Potential subjects of the study were identified and randomly selected through the use of Chamber of Commerce directories. Non profit organizations, government owned enterprises, and any business that had its transactions done on the street were disregarded. The data was obtained by face-to-face meetings with entrepreneurs. The administrator of the survey was a Nigerian graduate assistant in an AACSB accredited university on the East Coast. Before leaving for Lagos, Nigeria in the summer of 2005, the student was asked to participate in a special training session, during which interview approaches were discussed and purposes of the study were explained.

3.3. Survey Questionnaire

The survey used in this study was originally developed by Hung M. Chu (Chu & Katsioloudes, 2001) and has been utilized in subsequent research since 2001. The questionnaire survey consists of 26 questions and was divided into four main groups. The first group deals with ownership, types and age of business, number and category of employees. The second group intends to gather some personal information such as age of the business owner, gender, marital status, educational level and work history. Third group focuses on entrepreneur's daily experiences and expectations and includes questions relevant to reasons for success or failure, motivations and problems encountered. The final set of questions was designed to discover the sources of stress and business related stress. The level of support from families and friends was also assessed. Although Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa are the most popular dialects in Nigeria, English is recognized as the official language, the survey therefore was conducted in English.

3.4. Data Analysis

The strengths of perceived success variables, motivation variables and problems were measured using a 5 point- Likert Scale. A mean score for each item was calculated. A higher mean score indicates greater importance. A correlation analysis using Pearson correlation coefficients with p-values were used to determine the effect of success and family support on entrepreneurs' stress.


4.1. Sample Characteristics

Table 1 shows the average age of Nigerian entrepreneurs at 36.7 which is less than those in Romania, 41.5, (Benzing, Chu, & Szabo, 2005) and Turkey, 41.2 (Chu, Kara, & Benzing, 2007). With regard to educational level attained, 56 percent reported that they had some graduate work or had obtained a graduate degree, 21 percent completed college, 17 percent attended or completed high school and 6 percent indicated that they had finished or nearly completed grade school. In contrast to many developing countries, Nigerian entrepreneurs are highly educated, and their educational level attained is comparable to those of business owners in Romania (Benzing, Chu & Szabo, 2005). With regard to gender and marital status, 69 percent of respondents are male and 31 percent female. This result indicates an improvement in the rate of women's participation in business. An earlier survey reported the proportion of men to women entrepreneurs was 89 percent versus 11 percent (Akande,1994). Findings reflect the effect of Nigerian culture which treats women as unequal. A gender divide still exists in Nigeria as well as in all of Africa (Woldie & Adersua, 2004). Table 1 also reports that 76 percent of respondents are married, and 24 percent, single.

Asked to indicate the types of business establishments, 70 percent of respondents reported that they built the businesses themselves, 8 percent bought their businesses from others, and only 2 percent indicated they inherited their enterprises. The results imply that a majority of Nigerian enterprises are established by the first generation of business owners, only a few of these businesses are passed down from previous generations.

The average age of business is reported to be at 8.40 years. The results suggest the existence of a less favorable environment for small business development in Nigeria. According to Ariyo (2004), not until recently, there seemed to be a lack of government interest in and support for entrepreneurship.

The survey's results also show that Nigerian entrepreneurs work an average of 37.8 hours per week. The time devoted to business by Nigerian business owners is comparable to those in Ghana (Chu, Benzing & McGee, 2007) but much less when compared with entrepreneurs in Vietnam (Chu & Benzing, 2004) and Romania (Benzing, Chu & Szabo, 2005).

4.2. Motivation Factors

Entrepreneurs were asked to rate 10 reasons for business ownership. On a five point Likert scale with five (5) being "extremely important" and one (1) being "the least important", table 2 shows that the two most important reasons are "to be my own boss", closely followed by "for my own satisfaction and growth". "To increase my income" and "to be able to use my past experience and training" are equally rated as number three reasons. Given the very high rate of unemployment among educated Nigerians (Anomo, 2007), many of them select business ownership as an alternative career, and consider it the means to control their destiny and to derive satisfaction. On the other hand, the Nigerian urban unemployment rate reported at 12.3 percent in 2003 was not a rosy picture (Wikipedia-Free Encyclopedia,2005). This statistic explains why respondents to the survey ranked "to increase my income" and "job security" as the critical motives for starting a business. Results of this survey supported Akande's postulation that Nigerian entrepreneurs' most important motive for business ownership is "monetary rewards and profit" (Akande, 1994). Findings from this study also confirm the survey results by Woldie and Adersua (2004) on the reasons for becoming business owners by Nigerian women. These women indicated that they started their businesses to "reduce poverty" and "reverse the deteriorating economic conditions".

4.3. Business Success Factors

Data presented in table 3 show that Nigerian entrepreneurs rate hard work as the most important factor contributing to the success of their business. Possessing good management skills and good customer service were ranked second and third. Friendliness/charisma was on the top 4th of the list. The ability to manage personnel and a reputation for honesty were also critical to business success.

Findings from this study corroborate those of Neshamba (2000) who suggested that entrepreneurs' hard working habit is a "sine qua non" condition for a thriving enterprise. Hard work is measured by long hours devoted to business by entrepreneurs. Yusuf (1995), on the other hand, pointed out that managerial skills were important ingredients to business success. According to Clark, Callister & Wallace (2003) managerial skills consist of "theories, techniques, and behavioral guidelines which if applied properly, will enhance a manager's practice". Respondents to this survey confirm Yusuf's suggestion of the need for managerial skills to the success of entrepreneurs. Moreover, Nigerian entrepreneurs feel that friendliness to customers and providing customers with good service could entice them to repeat their purchases which contribute to a higher level of profit. This finding seems to be in congruence with the results from a study of Vietnamese entrepreneurs who believe in the same critical factors defining the success of a business (Benzing, Chu & Callanan, 2005).

Although the survey did not ask entrepreneurs to indicate their religious affiliation, one can safely assume that many respondents are Muslims because a majority of the Nigerian population practices Islam. According to a CIA report (2007), 50 percent of Nigeria's citizens are Muslims, 40 percent Christians, and 10 percent belong to other faiths. As a result, findings of this study show that small business owners rank 'reputation for honesty" very high on the list of successful factors. This finding is consistent with that found among entrepreneurs in Turkey, a country dominated by Muslims (Chu, Kara, & Benzing, 2007). The similarity of results may allow one to speculate that like Turkish entrepreneurs, Nigerian business owners might be introducing Islamic values into their business life. Honesty in business therefore becomes not only the customers' expectation but is also regarded as an ethical standard for business owners to adopt.

4.4. Problems Encountered by Nigerian Entrepreneurs

Nigerian entrepreneurs were also asked to identify the problems that they face. As shown in table 4, unreliable/undependable employees was ranked first among the obstacles encountered. Closely followed behind were a weak economy and electricity problems.

The problem of not being able to recruit and retain good employees seems to be a universal challenge facing business owners in many countries. Romanian entrepreneurs ranked unreliable employees the second most important problem (Benzing, Chu & Szabo, 2005). This problem proved to be more serious for Turkish entrepreneurs because of the expense and burden related to hiring and firing employees (World Bank, 2006). As a result, Turkish entrepreneurs must hire only the most competent workers, but the pool of these workers seems to be limited everywhere (Chu, Kara, & Benzing, 2007). Vietnamese small business owners indicated that their business ventures could be more successful if they were able to hire enough good employees and have them remain with the business (Benzing, Chu & Callanan, 2005).

Faced with a high unemployment rate created by the weak economy, Nigerians should be glad to obtain a job and work hard at it, so why are entrepreneurs facing the problem of not having enough good/reliable workers? Part of this answer may be attributed to the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises do not have adequate resources to allow good compensation. In addition, the opportunities for advancement in MSEs are limited. Good employees therefore are reluctant to join small businesses and will be more than happy to leave when a better job is available.

Data presented in table 4 also show that Nigerian entrepreneurs consider electricity problems very serious. Results of the survey reflect the current status of electricity supply in Nigeria. According to the World Bank report (1991), Nigeria is facing "an electricity crisis in which industrial growth and socioeconomic development pace are kept below what is attainable by the economy". Findings from a study of Nigerian entrepreneurs by Mambula (2002) suggest that besides the problem of harassment by government officials, small business owners face many more constraints. Typical among these was the poor infrastructure including bad roads, poor electric supply and water shortage. In an article recently appeared in the New York Times, Wine (2007) reported that of total 79 power plants existing in Nigeria, only 19 are working. As a result, virtually all households and businesses have to purchase their own generators in order to meet their electricity needs. Respondents to this survey confirm the severity of the power shortages. If this crisis cannot be quickly resolved, it will become a threat to the country's economic well-being and hinder the development of small enterprises.

Finally, "unsafe location" and "lack of management training" were also included among the critical problems facing Nigerian entrepreneurs. Respondents to this survey seem to suggest an inadequacy of land and dwelling currently exists in the crowding city of Lagos. The exorbitant price of real estate is preventing small business owners from being located in more secure and convenient locations. Discussing the challenges facing entrepreneurs, experts on Nigerian economic development suggest that not all of the responsibilities for difficulties encountered by MSEs can be blamed on government or on micro and small enterprises. In fact, Nigeria's short history of experience in industrial, commercial as well as formal education in business theories and practices may account for most of the lack of managerial skills experienced by small business owners. This situation may be attributed to the policies imposed on African colonies by Western countries (Falola, 1996; Juma, 1991; Schatz, 1996).

4.5. Business Success, Social Support and Stress

As shown in table 5, Nigerian entrepreneurs believe they are successful and express great satisfaction with their success. They also indicate that their success level is higher than expected. When asked if the support of family and friends contributed to their business success, the answer was very positive. These findings seem to be in congruence with the theoretical view that job performance leads to job satisfaction (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005). Higher performers receive more rewards, therefore they are more satisfied. Entrepreneurs who have their success meet expectations are more satisfied than those who attain a success less than expected. Empirical studies show that the support of family and friends is significantly related to success and satisfaction (Chu, Kara, & Benzing, 2007). This study's results support those of previous studies.

When correlations between success, satisfaction, family support and stress were analyzed, some interesting results were found and are presented in table 6. It is evident that a strong correlation exists between business success and satisfaction. Similar conclusions on the correlation between entrepreneurs' satisfaction and their perceived success can also be inferred. The more they feel their success is met, the more satisfied they become. The relationship between business success and stress is not significant. In addition, there is no significant relationship between family support and stress found in this study. Results of Rahim's study (1996) suggest that social support is negatively associated with stress. Findings from a study by Chay (1993) also indicated that social support moderates the effect of work stressors.

Stress is a subset of entrepreneurship. It takes place not only when adverse conditions exist, but arises even when business is thriving. Entrepreneurs need to have appropriate strategies ready for unpredictable outcomes. Stress therefore is an unavoidable reality for small business owners (Akande,1994).


In order to improve its economy, Nigeria needs to further the development of its private sector. It can be done by creating an environment favorable to the growth of MSEs, strengthening the factors that lead to business success, and addressing the problems threatening the existence and advancement of micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

Results of this study suggest that Nigerians consider entrepreneurship an avenue leading to job security and improving their livelihood. They also regard business ownership as a means of controlling their destiny and deriving self-satisfaction. With respect to the problems faced, Nigerian entrepreneurs cite unreliable employees as the most critical. Weak economy, unsafe location, undependable electricity supply and a lack of management training are closely ranked behind. The factors that contribute to the success of small business owners include the willingness to work hard, possession of management skills, good customer services, and being friendly to customers. Results of the survey also indicate that family/friends support, and business success have no effect on business-related stress.

On the basis of these findings, it is imperative that Nigerian policy decision makers take appropriate measures to promote entrepreneurship. Among positive steps to be taken, the following may be considered. First, the government must improve the infrastructure and select qualified people to implement and monitor the projects. Second, the government should further the development of entrepreneurship by becoming a customer for small businesses' goods and services through procurements, contracts and orders. Third, a system of business networking must be created to allow entrepreneurs to share information in the areas of financial, personnel, market information, equipment and raw material supplies (Yusuf, 1995). Fourth, because of the influence of the institution of extended family on apprentice training of potential entrepreneurs, the Nigerian government should provide sufficient incentive and support to encourage more establishment of family business. Finally, academic institutions, financial organizations and government can work together to provide training needs to prospective entrepreneurs. Both theoretical and practical aspects of business operation should be included in the program. Promising candidates may be recommended for a loan to establish their business, after the completion of such training (Mambula, 2002).

Economic prosperity in Nigeria, as in the rest of the world, depends on an energetic private sector. A class of well trained, highly motivated entrepreneurs should be established to lead MSEs to a higher level of growth which would significantly contribute to the country's economic well-being.


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Dr. Hung M. Chu is a professor of strategic management and international business at West Chester University and earned his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He has published articles related to entrepreneurship and international management in the Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, The Transnational Journal, Journal of Global Business, Journal of the Academy of Business Administration, and the Psychological Reports and has conducted surveys in China and Venezuela.

Dr. Orhan Kara (Corresponding author) is an assistant professor of economics and finance at West Chester University and earned his Ph.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has published articles in economics, finance, and entrepreneurship in various journals.

Dr. Cynhia Benzing is a professor of economics and finance at West Chester University and earned her Ph.D. from Drexel University. She has published articles related to entrepreneurship in the Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship and Journal of Global Business. She has also published in the Atlantic Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Education, Journal of Psychology, International Advances in Economics Research, and the Journal of Financial Education. Her research interest includes small business conditions in developing countries, the determinants of price in internet auctions, and economics/finance education.

                                  Entrepreneurial Characteristics

Gender                                Frequency       Percent
  Male                                164             69%
  Female                               73             31%
Marital Status
  Married                             166             76%
  Single                               51             24%
Mean age of entrepreneur               36.7 years
Average working hours per week         37.8 hours
Educational level achieved
  Completed grade school or less       13              6%
  Attended high school or
    completed high school              37             17%
  Attended college or
    completed college                  46             21%
  Had some graduate work or
    completed graduate degree         123             56%

                                  Enterprise Characteristics
Types of business ownership
  Established by you                  168             70%
  Bought from another                  20              8%
  Inherited                             5              2%
Average age of business                 8.4 years

Average number of employees             4.33 FT
                                        2.02 PT
Types of business
  Retailing                            51             22%
  Wholesaling                          40             16%
  Service                             119             51%
  Manufacturing                        25             11%
  Agricultural tools & equipments      20              9%
  Others                               15              6%

(5=extremely important, 4=very important, 3=mildly important,
2=not very important, 1 =unimportant)

Motivational Factors                      Mean      Std. Dev.

 1. To be my own boss                     4.01        1.02
 2. To be able to use my                  3.98        0.98
    past experience & training
 3. To prove I can do it                  3.72        1.04
 4. To increase my income                 3.98        1.06
 5. To gain public recognition            3.11        1.28
 6. To provide jobs for my family         2.73        1.25
 7. For my own satisfaction and growth    4.00        0.98
 8. So I will have job security           3.96        1.02
 9. To build a business to pass on        3.40        1.05
10. To be closer to my family             3.33        1.34

(5=extremely important, 4=very important, 3=mildly important,
2=not very important, 1 =unimportant)

Success Factors                                Mean     Std. Dev.

 1. Good general management skills             4.28       0.99
 2. Charisma; friendliness to customers        4.07       1.05
 3. Satisfactory government support            2.92       1.30
 4. Appropriate training                       3.94       1.03
 5. Access to capital                          4.04       1.07
 6. Previous business experience               3.82       1.02
 7. Support of families and friends            3.24       1.12
 8. Marketing factors (sales and promotions)   3.56       1.08
 9. Good product at a competitive price        3.72       1.15
10. Good customer service                      4.18       0.99
11. Hard work                                  4.29       0.98
12. Location                                   4.01       1.03
13. Maintenance of accurate record of          3.91       0.99
    sales & Expenses
14. Ability to manage personnel                4.06       0.96
15. Community involvement                      2.86       1.19
16. Political involvement                      2.36       1.20
17. Reputation for honesty                     4.05       1.18

(5=very serious problem, 4=serious problem, 3=problem,
2=minor problem, 1 =not a problem)

Problems                                      Mean     Std. Dev.

 1. Unreliable and undependable employees     3.87       1.27
 2. Too much competition                      3.26       1.15
 3. Obtaining short-term financial capital    3.20       1.24
 4. Obtaining long-term financial capital     3.14       1.37
 5. Too much government                       3.26       1.32
 6. Limited parking                           2.79       1.20
 7. Unsafe location                           3.39       1.30
 8. Weak economy                              3.71       1.24
 9. Lack of management training               3.30       1.29
10. Lack of marketing training                3.16       1.23
11. Inability to maintain accurate, info.     3.27       1.32
    Accounting records
12. Complex and confusing tax structure       3.13       1.24
13. Business registration process             2.70       1.35
14. Foreign exchange limitations              2.72       1.37
15. Poor roads/transportation                 3.11       1.48
16. Electricity problems                      3.39       1.63


                                                    Mean    Std. Dev.

Q1. How would you describe your business success?   3.20      0.74

    (4=very successful, 3=successful, 2=average,
    1=below average)

Q2. To what extent are you satisfied with your      4.21      0.78
    business success?

    (5=very satisfied, 4=satisfied, 3=somewhat
    satisfied, 2=dissatisfied, 1=very

Q3. How well have your success met your             3.21      0.80

    (4=more than I expected, 3=met my
    expectations; 2=somewhat met my expectations,
    1=did not meet my expectations)

Q4. As a business owner, how would you rate the     3.99      0.76
    level of business-related stress?

    (5=very high, 4=high, 3=low, 2=very low,
    1=non existent)

Q5. How would you rate the support from family      3.36      1.21
    and friends?

    (5=very substantial, 4=substantial, 3=medium,
    2=low, 1=very low)

(Pearson correlation coefficients with p-values in parentheses)

     Q1           Q2          Q3          Q4
Q2    0.664

Q3    0.628        0.648
     (0.02)       (0.000)

Q4   -0.027       -0.003       0.039
     (0.687)      (0.966)     (0.548)

Q5    0.204        0.193       0.247       0.126
     (0.002)      (0.003)     (0.000)     (0.051)
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