If you have ever felt the pressing need to increase your income, then you’ll understand exactly how I felt a few years ago. It was in the year 2017, a year where a whopping inflation rate of 16.5% mocked my position and salary. I didn’t need a soothsayer or a Nobel Laureate in Economics to forecast that my salary would become peanuts in a few years.
My salary was nowhere near “enough” to live the life I wanted, not to talk of investments or retirement plans. Moreover, in the previous year (2016), the country had already experienced a massive inflation rate of 15.7%. So just thinking about my future made me realize that I had to do more, be more, and earn more – fast!
Thinking retrospectively, I can not help but wonder what would have become of me if I did nothing, hoping my employer would miraculously bump up my salary (and position) as the rate of inflation kept increasing. But, luckily for me, I had the initiative to take some steps and break the status quo. And those steps are what I’m about to share with you.
So, how did I double my salary two years in a row, and how do I plan to triple it this year?
Making 8-Figures a Year
It’s easy to make an 8-figure annual salary in Nigeria if you know what the heck you’re doing. That’s at least 10 million Naira every year!
It’s no news that the Nigerian economy has been going through the worst recession since 1984. And it’s been dwindling since then. But, while history has a way of repeating itself (sudden and gradual plunges into recession), we almost always never learn.
Thankfully, I learned something a few years ago that changed my life! If I hadn’t discovered this, I’d probably be somewhere at the bottom of the sea of debt and uncertainties, trying to claw my way out. So here’s the first lesson I learned:
The value you provide is directly proportional to the income you earn. But you must have a way of capturing that income.
Now, here’s the mistake most people make. They work in businesses where they generate lots of income for the business owners. But, sadly, they are unable to capture a reasonable portion of those earnings.
How can you capture an income that’s in direct proportion to the value you provide? Let me tell you a true story and highlight some rules that we can all learn from.
Playing Your Cards Right
By early 2017, I had started taking my career mapping quite seriously. At that time, I worked in a bank and had lots of colleagues who had not had a job promotion in 5+ years!
Of course, it’s easy to figure that “no promotion” also means no increase in salary (even though the inflation rate kept increasing). But what is a bit more challenging to figure is why the management didn’t promote my colleagues. The simple answer? They didn’t know how to play their cards right.
Most of my colleagues hoped that the management would decide in their favor and then graciously reward them for all their hard work. But is this feasible? Well, one thing’s for sure: the larger the organization, the less likely it is that anyone at the senior management level would be thinking of rewarding you for doing your job.
If you think about public quoted companies, especially in banking, the CEO is expected to improve profitability amongst other key metrics. In many cases, their stock options and bonuses are dependent on reaching specific performance targets. Knowing this and understanding that salaries are one of the biggest line items in a bank’s financials, I could tell that increasing salaries was not a priority for a bank that had peaked in growth.
For many of my colleagues and other people working in the banking sector, they either couldn’t put the pieces together or chose to live in denial. And either one of these truths was costing them their promotion and salary increase!
Here are three (3) major mistakes people make in their careers.
- Allowing people to dictate their career growth
- Thinking that their degrees and qualifications are everything
- Waiting for the right time to start.
Here are some rules to guide you and help you take your financial advancement into your hands.
Rule #1: Never Allow Anyone To Dictate Your Career Growth
Waiting for a promotion is not a good career growth strategy, especially if your company doesn’t have a good promotion track record.
You should review your career every six months in stricter metrics than a company would check your performance. You should also start exploring multiple career options and opportunities at least once a year, especially in the first ten years of your career.
How I took control of my career growth
So how did I go about this? First, I had to develop a 5-year career plan in 2017. Part of my plan was to become the Managing Director of a Fintech Company. At that time, I wasn’t so confident that I would get there, but I did work towards it. And voila! It happened in exactly four years.
And that’s the thing about a clearly stated goal – it helps you do what needs to be done to achieve it. So here’s a bit more detail.
I went for my MBA towards the end of 2017. I took an MBA because I needed a break from work, a change of environment, and a change of mindset. I had spent too much time with people that were not in a hurry to change their career trajectory for too long.
Upon returning, I had two offers, one was for a 40% growth in my previous salary, and the other came several weeks after for a 100% growth in my prior salary (two times what I previously earned). However, both offers did not come on a platter of gold. I did have to employ a proper job search strategy that I had been developing for several months.
I knew what I could offer a company and how much the company would generate from hiring me. I then articulated this to the hiring managers and negotiated a salary that seemed a steal for each party (for the company and me).
Side-hustles and continuous learning
During my MBA program, I also learned the art of creating great CVs and was specific about which companies would demand my services. Therefore, it took me two months to get multiple offers.
In some of my career coaching sessions, people have asked me if they will have results without an MBA. Well, first of all, I was only able to raise the money for my MBA after close to 2 years of having multiple side-hustles and being persistent in driving my career forward.
Secondly, the MBA degree was not necessarily instrumental in helping me land a job, as I have a few friends who struggled after graduating for many months. Instead, what helped me was my continuous learning about the job market and how to position myself and be attractive to recruiters.
The conclusion? Keep learning and advancing in your field so that you can become super attractive to recruiters.
Rule #2: Your Degree is Only Half Of It. Understanding The Job Market is More Important
Lots of people earn new certifications or study for degrees without crafting their career plans. All they think about is how they can land a job with their new arsenal. While certifications are important, more necessary is understanding how the job market works (especially if you’re already in it).
The most important things to do are:
- Achieve great things at the company you work for
- Identify and network with influential people (either hiring managers or senior professionals) in industries/companies you would like to work for.
The first allows you to become more attractive, and the second ensures that the people you’re talking to have confidence in your ability. Because if they do, they will recommend you for job opportunities when they arise.
Understanding the company you work for
When I got my fintech job, I had one goal: to align my big ambitions with that of the company. So, for instance, if the company’s primary goal was to increase revenues and grow the user base, that had to become my goal.
Now, it doesn’t matter whether you’re working in customer support or engineering. You have to align yourself to what the company wants to achieve, irrespective of what your boss would measure your performance on.
Of course, you need to achieve your performance targets set by the company. However, what they set is usually the minimum expectation. On your path, you must keep doing over and above that for two reasons. First, if you want to seek a raise, you’ll be able to negotiate your compensation better. Secondly, if you’re going to leave the company, other employers (and indeed your employer) will be in a bidding war over you. That’s how much worth and power improving yourself can get you.
This was what I did, and within a year, I had a raise with 30% growth in my salary. Less than six months after, my salary increased once more by 60%. While I was a bit happy about my career growth, the naira had devalued by more than 55% in the last few years.
Rule #3: There’s Never A Right Time To Start A Business
Many people keep waiting for the “right” or “perfect” time to start a business. But, if you’re passionate about improving your life and doubling your income many times over, then you must be willing to start early. Why? Because starting early will allow you to learn early enough. And in no time, you’re already doing better than you could have imagined!
I decided to start a consulting service and a side business for coaching job seekers during the pandemic. This led to me beginning Reventify as I wanted to scale the business and reach many more people who couldn’t afford my 1-on-1 services.
Doing this brought in a lot more opportunities, and that’s why I’ll be having another record-breaking year as per my income. I’m telling this story as there’s a lot to learn about oneself once you’re devoted to a path and are willing to learn from others.
In the last couple of months, I have consistently built relationships with more experienced professionals in the career-tech and fintech space. After you become more valuable by investing in yourself, your ability to leverage is the surest way to earn many times what you currently earn. Why? Because you’re able to do more with less!
So, if you have a passion, start now, and you’ll begin to attract all the help and guidance you need!
There are two fundamental principles to earning more. The first is to be more valuable, and the second is to master the art of leveraging. Doubling your income is easier than you think! However, it’s not an overnight hack. Instead, it’s a solid long-term growth strategy!