How To Start A Liquid Soap Business

Almost every home has one brand of liquid soaps or the other. Homemade soaps, especially those that use organic ingredients or have an extraordinary smell, are a hit with many customers since they are an inexpensive luxury and a popular gift-giving idea. To succeed at the  liquid soap business, you will need to develop quality soaps with brilliant scents, control your inventory and pricing, and market your products. Sounds simple, right? But let’s take a closer look at the steps. 

Liquid soap is a cleaning agent that can be used for washing plates, clothes, tiles, cars, etc. But let’s not forget that many of these  Liquid soap business owners have realised that adding great air fresheners make the environment scent good, which then increases the value of the soap. Liquid soap business is very lucrative because they are being used in various locations like home, offices, restaurants, airports, public toilets, etc. Also, let’s remember that products that are consumed and finished are always good. People will need to refill or replace. 

There is a market, but you have to own equity. 

With a Nigerian population of 200 million plus, I bet the market is massive. However, just a few large brands dominate. And many of these dominating brands are foreign, which means the end revenues or money, are taken abroad to the mother company. See you enriching foreign business owners/investors with your small purchase of soap. It is your time now to own something and scale to become significant in your own community. Now let’s delve into it.

To start a liquid soap business, you will need the following these 7 steps:

  1. Create a business plan
  2. Create your one-product recipe 
  3. Develop your production
  4. Source your materials 
  5. Produce the soap
  6. Market which includes branding
  7. Maintain your business

So now, let’s explore these steps systematically. 

Create a business plan for your liquid soap business. 

Many micro entrepreneurs love to omit this stage. They call it papare work and dislike it. But, please trust me on this. You need to sort out your thoughts, your ideas, your opportunities, your limitations. Crafting a business plan will help you do this. Let me convince you further and read why you need to plan! Planning is very essential to the success of any business. If you want your business to become a big deal you need to take time to write out a detailed plan. If you dislike business plan, then download our template and use the Idea canva or learn to create your own blueprint for your idea. In our app, we will publish video tutorials on how to use the Idea canva, so download our app here. Also remember that during the process of developing your plan, you should consider the legal issues like accreditation and setup. 

Create your one-product recipe 

Not knowing how to make liquid soap is not an excuse!

Can you start up something you don’t know how to make? So you have to learn! You can learn from youtube videos, from local manufacturers and can even attend liquid soap making classes or workshops. However, there is another route to take here. If you are not passionate about actually making liquid soap but you love to build a business around it, then find a partner that loves to make them. You must not be the only one to build your idea. You can find someone that is very passionate about product making and team up. Our advice here is that you focus on one product at the beginning. Masterthat, secure the recipe and scale it first before you begin to explore others.

Develop your production

Now the next question is space. Where would you design your production? How would you do this? Is it a mobile setup which you remove when done due to space or can you dedicate a space for it? All these questions you can answer during the process of your business plan. We offer online coaching sessions to guide you through this planning process for your idea. You can get our app and as a paying app member at our academy, request a once a month online session. Space alone is not sufficient, but a clean ventilated space is what you want. Would you work standing or sitting? What kind of work table would you require? Something that you can easily clean,sterilise and is durable. You must not buy all these new, you can opt in for used equipment. 

Source the materials to start your liquid soap business

This entails that you figure out all the raw materials and tools you will need. Actually, If you did a detailed business plan, you will already have a list. But here are some things you will require.

  • Cans
  • Measuring bowls
  • Water 
  • Bottles or packaging cans.
  • Mixing spoons, Spatula
  • Sodium Laurate Sulphate (SLS) 
  • Carboxymethyl cellulose (C.M.C) 
  • Texapon – Sulphonic Acid  
  • Caustic Soda – Soda Ash 
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate (S.T.P.P)
  • Formalin
  • Colourant and perfume. 
  • Packaging material like stickers, sealers
  • Thermometer
  • A funnel (if you do not trust the steadiness of your hands)

And some other things. Make sure to do your research. For those of you living in Lagos I suggest you visit Ojota market, as you will get all of these products there. 

It is time to produce your liquid soap. 

This is a very important step as you should register or note down every detail happening. You want to keep your quality and consistency. Therefore you should study what makes your production lap better and more efficient. How long does the soap need to stay stored for? What is the shelf life? All these help you to know how much to produce, when and how.  Also this process shows you if your logistics work seamlessly. When does the raw material arrive? Can you get them easily as replacements if needed?

Market which includes branding

It is all about creating a recognisable style for your product. It’s all about creating awareness for your liquid soap business. Even though you must have planned this out or identified some ways in your business plan, it is time to implement them. You might need to get a graphic designer to help you design and print out your brand design which you will attach to the bottles of liquid soap. 

The easiest to do is to  create a social media page and start from there. Develop some small business cards or postcards which you can share when you meet people. Make small soap samples using very small bottles to use as give away samples to potential clients. Begin to visit those places we listed above that you can buy in bulk. 

Maintain your liquid soap business

This is the part many entrepreneurs forget to dedicate energy to. From time to time, you have to check what works and what does not work well. Starting up a liquid soap business is very exciting because you are going into a field that has a large customer base ranging from the average home user to the corporate offices. However you need to make a business plan as stated above and also learn all you can about running a business. But remember, your business plan is meant to be like your Bible or Koran. 

You revisit it and re-edit or update based on your actual operational experience. Find out what you need to standardise or what operations you need to scrap out. Find out how to get more reliable supplies, how to streamline your logistics. Who to get on board and who to discontinue relationships with. All these reflections, standardisations, monitoring and reporting will help you grow from a micro enterprise to an international style liquid soap business. In our app, we dedicate efforts to publish more business building information, tools, techniques and resources. So join us at the Joadre academy for MSME to grow your ideas and self. 

Get the app (Android version) here and for IOS users, a webapp version and IOS version is on its way, sign up for our newsletter here to know when it’s out and get the consistent ressources via email. If you want to contact us, use our contact form or consult us  through the app. I look forward to welcoming you to our ACTIVATE program.

Thank you for reading to the end. 



I am Joana, a Nigerian-born Austrian-based entrepreneur and activist. Founded Joadre in 2012 and continue to develop content to engage and empower African SMEs.

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