Hidden Opportunities

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Yesterday I saw an advert by FCMB that it now does Saturday banking and I jumped to the conclusion that it will use its regular staff and they are not going to get paid overtime. Increasingly, more jobs are requiring more than the standard 8am to 5pm weekdays. Jobs at small companies do and now even the big prestigious companies are following suit. And some companies who pay overtime to their staff who work beyond the regular work hours are now finding clever ways of avoiding that payment. The only way to not be exploited as an employee is to work for a big multinational that treats its staff in Nigeria the same as it treats its American staff. 

The absence of government policies and laws to prevent exploitation of employees and the very small jobs to qualified seekers have made it very easy for companies to make unreasonable and exploitative demands of their staff. They want you to resume before the agreed resumption time and close later than the agreed closing time, and you still have to respond to emails from home. Then when the work grows beyond the capacity of the current staff, they want you to come to work on Saturdays rather than hire more people. So when you join, your workload increases at a rate multiple times that of any salary increase you get.

But there is a good side to this situation. It creates a lot of hidden opportunities. Once you can break free from the corporate group thinking and keep your eyes and skills ready for the wind of opportunity, you can be sure to encounter many. It wasn't only MTN who made a killing in the early days of GSM in Nigeria; the recharge card guys did. Many regular people became silent millionaires because they had their eyes and skills ready for the opportunity. And it's the same for the guys making it big in computer village; most of them started with just one tiny corner floor and ended up becoming Slot and others. 

image: think29.com
When everyone goes after the same jobs and the same old companies, there will always be not so obvious opportunities for the person who decides to be an outlier. I recently added a lot of people working with Konga, the online retailing startup, and almost all the senior staff left Etisalat for Konga. Sim Shagaya spotted an opportunity others weren't seeing and started Konga, now it's big enough to entice people working with a big telecoms company like Etisalat to come join it.

There are many needs that no one is currently meeting in Nigeria. There are job types that are yet to be popular and already have a market. There are things you can do on the side to take advantage of hidden opportunities. The corporate business world is no longer friendly. There is no more job security and full-time work is fast becoming full-week work. Until the government does something about the dearth of well structured companies in Nigeria, we have to seek out the hidden opportunities.


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