How to start a shoe business | step-by-step guide

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Hey! Welcome to the best guide on how to start a shoe business. [The one you’ve been looking for]

I am positive you will be able and set to start your own shoe business after reading this very detailed 3,000 words plus article.

With this guide, you’ll be able to start a shoe business from home or get shop if you want to.

Good luck on your reading journey, you’ll need it.

How to start a shoe business [Introduction]

Shoes are without doubt one of the most sought after basic personal needs of individuals across the planet. It has and is becoming acceptable even in the extremely rural part of Africa that still walk barefooted (it shows how successful you can be when you start your own shoe business because virtually everyone and anyone could be your potential customer).

Apart from the protection it gives to the feet and for the sake of fashion; shoes are worn for different purposes and footwear are of different type and modifications to suit the purpose for which it is made.

Football, hockey to mention a few amongst others will be a very dangerous game without footwear. And that is why anyone can easily pick a career in shoe making because there are various market to target.

It’s no news shoes compliment clothing of everyone, because no dressing is complete without a good shoe or footwear to suit it.

Truth be told, the shoe production business is a very competitive one. Because almost everyone walking on the street now including you reading this has a pair or more of shoes.

The big question is, how do you intend to make them (individuals) choose your product (shoes) over that of your competitors?. In essence, how do you intend to convince customers to abandon their current brand for yours.

Personally I believe that aside a good marketing strategy, this can be done/achieved by…

  • Producing shoes or footwear of high quality.
  • Cheaper or competitive prices
  • Footwear with guarantee

If you can work effectively on the 3 above mentioned tips then you are on the right track to starting your own shoe business.


i.  Scissors of different sizes (based on your choice): Needed to cut materials basically the Nora.
(The Nora is a leather material used for the top of palms.)

ii. Knives: For cutting hard leathers.

iii. Filling machine: Just as the name implies, for filling and smoothing of leather surfaces. You can also use it for finishing.

iv . Sandpaper: A sandpaper is fixed to the filling machine during shoe production; It’s needed because before you  glue two leather surfaces, there’s need to make the surface rough. Though a wire brush can also be used.

v.   Sewing machine: Used for sewing leather together. Also used for designs.

vi. Thread and needle: For sewing where or places the machine can’t sew and can also be to create designs.

vii. Shoe former: Used to create the tip of shoes and left there permanently.

viii. Punches: For creating cavity (holes) for pins, hooks, rings etc

ix. Shoe model: Usually or sometimes called pattern. It’s in form or in shape of human foot. It is of different sizes, around which the shoe is made. It’s in wooden or plastic form.

  • Other materials or equipment needed are gums, tape and ruler (for measurement), nails, hammer, shoe sole etc.

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Moving forward…

Before you start a shoe business, there are a few things you should ponder on or give a deep thought to the following…


  • Know your target audience (Niche)

Who are you going to target?

The first thing you should consider are the segment of people you want to satisfy with your product. Are you starting out to target and satisfy women or men, children or adult, formal or casual etc.

With this already considered and decided, your production will be relatively easy.

Because you’re aware of the type of people you want to feed, you can easily decide on what to cook. What I mean is, it’s easier to produce when you are very aware of who or the type of people who will to use it. Produce shoes with your target audience in mind.

  • Business type. [partnership, sole proprietorship, etc]

Do you want to start and run the shoe business on your own or with a friend?

Do you intend to start-up has a sole proprietor (one man business) or you’re willing to go into partnership with someone with similar motive. Having this considered is also essential. Because It will enable you write a perfect business plan that will see you through in the shoe business.

  • Size/scale of the business.

Are you starting small or big?

Shoe manufacturing is open to different sizes. In essence, this is one business you can either start on a large-scale, medium scale or on a small-scale.

The small-scale is the most adopted in Nigeria though.

Starting on a small-scale means you can start your shoe business from home to maximize capital. And personally I think it’s not a bad way to start a shoe business.

You can start small and grow big as time goes on.

Aside being the owner of all the income, they are other overlooked benefits of starting small which are…

  • Helps you get direct feedback from customers. Let’s say you produced and sold a shoe without noticing something went wrong during production process. The customer who bought the shoe can come directly to you to show /point out the mistake. And you will learn from it.
  • Build loyal customers
  • Suggestions in trending styles and fashion
  • Accurate market information.

It is said and proven true that when you satisfy one customer, you’re likely to get more customers. For example, you made an attractive, top quality shoe for a friend or customer. Since the individual you made the shoe for is mobile, someone else is likely to notice the shoe and if interested, collects a few information and place an order. Or instead will rather locate you to purchase something similar or better. Now that’s another customer secured and this could go on and on.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, another way of starting your own shoe business is on a large-scale.
Opening this business on a large-scale is just having a bigger shoe production space away from home and a larger or decent amount of the necessary work force and more advanced materials.

Starting your own shoe business on a large-scale doesn’t guarantee your success. That’s a fact. If you don’t really understand the business, you can or should employ someone who does. Commencing on a large-scale is all about finance.

With the necessary cash at hand or in the bank, you don’t really have to do much. Because you’re just a few methods away from getting the right employees for various departments. However, you can actually indulge in supervising the affairs of the organization.

Because to start a shoe business on large requires workers, you should therefore checkout sources/ways of recruiting employees easily and fast.

Don’t forget things to consider before hiring new employees to avoid being sued.

Moving forward…

So having done or worked on the necessary considerations for this business, it’s now time to know how to start it.

Shoe production business plan.[Top Tips to starting a lucrative shoe business from home]

Start a shoe business
How to start a shoe business.

Step 1: Training [Learn how to make shoes]

All you have to do is locate a very good shoe maker or producer to learn and master the skills [how to make shoes]. Go for a quality shoe maker even if it’s beyond your convenience in terms of distance or location. Remember – No pain, No gain.

However, you can ignore this if you intend starting this shoe business on a large scale. Because you’ll have the finance to employ skilled and experienced workers for the shoe production; you don’t necessarily need to learn it yourself. But a thing or two on shoe production would be helpful though.

No knowledge is wasted.

But if you intend to start small for now with the aim of expanding in the future, this chapter is absolutely inevitable.

You can only prosper in shoe business by knowing (learning) how to actually produce different type of shoes all by yourself.


  • Years in the job / Experience.

The amount of years the individual (trainer) has been in the business matters because it automatically determines the level of experience.

An entrepreneur with 10 years or more experience at a job can’t be compared with that of 3 years and less. The way the former approaches the market, tackle obstacles and the management skill will supersede that of the latter.

  • Niche (target audience or market).

As an aspiring shoe producer or manufacturer, you’re required or it is better to get/learn the needed shoe making or production skill and experience from someone flourishing in your desired niche.

If you want to focus only on producing sport footwear, it’s advisable you locate a specialist in sport footwear production and learn the skill not someone targeting a different market (for example someone who is producing for kids).

Others include – business type and product quality.

To be the best, you have to learn from the best.

Step 2: Business plan.

It’s important for you to have available a well detailed business plan to start a shoe making business.

Yes! It’s good to be optimistic while or when writing a business plan but you shouldn’t go overboard. Like selling over 6000 pairs of shoes in your first month of starting is quite inaccurate and unachievable.

Your business plan should include your goals and objectives, your marketing, financing and management strategy, SWOT analysis. Set realistic, and achievable goals. And make sure you follow all processes to achieve them.

You can hire a freelancer to help you write a detailed business plan on how to start a shoe business if you can’t do it yourself or order for one online for a particular fee.

You will receive the business plan via a mail after your payment confirmation. Make sure the email address provided or your email address is correct and accessible by you.

Step 3: Get a good location.

Your location is where your customers can easily reach you, It could be your home or  a rented space. You should have known your target audience at this stage. In essence, you should have decided on kind of people you want to satisfy with your product. Because they will determine where your product will be sited or displayed to be easily seen and purchased.

Furthermore, starting your own shoe business, your place of production doesn’t have to be the only place to display your goods.

You can actually start a shoe business manufacturing from home and put it on display for sale at a very nice strategic location, highly graced / patronized by your target audience when ready. For example, If you’re producing sport footwear, you can get a show room to display your shoes around a stadium.

You can also get your product on online shop such as Jumia, konga, amazon, eBay, Alibaba etc.

Step 4: Business name.

A business name is that which your shoe business would be identified has or called. It should be that of when heard, portrays what you are into and those it’s directed to [target market]

Your business name should be simple, meaningful and easy to understand.

Before you start a shoe business, you can contact a professional and provide the necessary details about your shoe line (niche, business type etc) to help you come up with one.
It’s advisable you choose a business name in relation with your niche.

Step 5. Register your business

Before you kick start a shoe business or in its introductory stage, make sure you contact the appropriate bodies or organization and register your business.

There are loads of restrictions to an unregistered business and as well many benefits to a registered one.

Individuals loves to deal with registered businesses. Because an unregistered business is perceived as illegal and also restricted to exportation.

One benefit of a registered shoe business is that, it can get you government contract deals.

Starting your own shoe business in Nigeria, you can contact the shoe makers association and you can also register your business with the cooperate affairs commission.

Make sure your shoe production business has a legal backing. Simple.

Step 6. Buy the necessary equipments.

A shoe maker or manufacturer without the necessary production materials is like a local farmer without a hoe and cutlass. What are you going to use for production?

Therefore you need to get all required equipments.

Your experience is really important when getting equipments or materials for shoes or footwear production. Because there are lots of fake or low quality materials out there.

This is one benefit of a decent training because your trainer would have exposed you to certain material qualities and how to discover if a material or equipment is fake / of low quality.

Keep in mind that the quality of your material will also determine the quality of your shoes after due production process.

Make sure you get the best and maximize the materials well. Don’t  be wasteful by using materials meant to produce 5 shoes for 2.

Step 7: Produce / make quality foot wears .

With the necessary materials in place, the next step is to start producing shoes / shoe production.

Conduct a market research. Through your research, you’ll get to know what’s trending and accepted by target audience.

For example, The no-lace boot is trending and is being accepted by footballers.

If that’s your niche, you can produce such quality boots in decent quantity and contact an organized private or government/state-owned club and sell to them.

Because it’s trendy, it’s something every player will like to try out.

Primarily, make sure your products are in

• High quality. And
• Low or very affordable prices.

The above coupled with a good marketer or a great marketing strategy, you can conquer any market starting your own shoe business line.

Step 8: Brand, Label & Package your shoe

(Optional if you’re starting your own shoe business on a small scale)

Firstly, to brand , you are required to create a name, symbol, logo, or other item that will be used to distinguish your shoes or footwear from others. For example, the first thing that comes to my mind seeing a shoe with a green and red stripe or colour is Gucci. That’s their own unique feature, it distinguish them from others.

Secondly to label a shoe, you are to provide a few details on materials used in producing those shoes and attach it to the shoe. Your label could appear in symbols or words and should be placed at the outer part or inner part of the shoe.


Lastly to package . You need to create or design a wrapper or box like container for each pair of your shoes. This enable your product (shoe) protection, easy identification and it also pleases your customers. Not forgetting that good packaging attracts new customers.

Step 9: Market your shoes.

Aside adopting the use of show room to create awareness about your product, another method is to employ the use of media (radio and television) advertisement. Not forgetting print medias such as magazines and newspapers.

Make sure you consider the media coverage or traffic before working with them. The more traffic the better.

Another smart way is to create a very good designer shoe, contact (plead if necessary) a celebrity with a decent amount of fans or followers and send a pair to him or her for free. All the celebrity has to do is post a picture of the shoe and give credit or drop some important information about your brand.

You can also create a blog or YouTube channel when you start a shoe business. All you have to do is upload pictures, make and upload videos of some of your finest products (shoes).

You can also contact a popular blog in your country or region to help you advertise your shoe. Create a banner and make sure it appears on header segment or part of the blog homepage and footer.


• Shoe making skill

You need to basically know how to make shoes before thinking of starting your own shoe business. For those starting on a large-scale, the first to do is get or employ individuals who have the skill.

• Creativity

Creativity is having that ability to use imagination to produce a product that is useful to the society. The good news is, your creativity is something you can develop or work on. when others are making black and brown shoes, how can you come up with a red shoe that will still be appreciated.

You need to work on your ability to create something good, different, fashionable and accepted by your target audience or market.

• Able to teach and train

At some point in time, you are likely to be approached by individuals who want to learn the shoe making skill. You must be able to also teach others the shoe production skill and because it won’t be done for free, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Have the trainees look at the way you make shoes, tell them what there is to be known and answer their basic questions very well.

When you feel they are ready, have them practice their shoe production skill with low quality materials at first just to help them master the skill.

• Book-keeping and basic organizations.

This is all about being able to keep records of all your transactions when you start a shoe business. Successful business owners keep records or employ someone to whoever does on a thing or two concerning their business.

Book keeping and basic organizations will enable you know your income and expenses.


• Familiarity with polish (black or brown) and other necessary equipments.

anonymous – Reasons on why he chose to start a shoe business despite other businesses out there.

Firstly, my role model is Blake mycoskie (CEO toms) not because he makes shoe but because for every toms sold one is given out for free I love his attitude to give.

Secondly, i actually decided to choose shoe manufacturing and learn a bit of leather works because I see no reason for shoes of good quality to be expensive. It has to do with an ambition in the future that no black should work bare footed as far as cattles are rear and rubber trees lives.

Furthermore, as a student I choose to start a shoe business because I believe I can improve on it.

In the shoe business, we say every mistake is a style. As long as it is fitted and comfortable, with good marketing, modelling and packaging people will buy even if it is an old design. For example, Crux the crux is a rubber slippers. I mean low quality rubber slippers design for raining season and for riverine area at a very low production cost of 200 per pair ,with a good modelling crux is sold at 1500 per pair.

And lastly I choose shoe production because I love shoes. Personally I want to make money but I like the way shoe fit on people especially men I really don’t like heels I love real shoes.


1) Know your target audience
2) Learn how make to make shoes
3) Decide if you want to start on a small or large-scale
4) Write your business plan
5) Choose a business name
6)  Arrange a place around for working or get a good location.
7)  Register your business
8) Buy the necessary equipments
9) Start making your own shoes
10) Brand and package the shoes
11) Market the shoes

Now I believe the next is step is ACTION.

I believe you now know the necessary steps to starting a shoe business, it’s now left for you to get a work. Best of luck.

Your comments keeps me going. Add a tip or suggestions for improvement via the comment section. Thanks in anticipation.


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