Market value is the price a commodity or asset would fetch or trade in a competitive marketplace. The world, as we have come to understand it, is an open marketplace where everyone is selling one thing or the other. Whether it’s a friend asking another friend for an idea or an influencer on social media influencing their followers to buy into a particular brand or a politician campaigning for public office, everyone is selling something.

It is important to know that whatever we are selling, its price has to be commensurate with the value it would bring to the table. When we enroll in a school to get educated, we pay the required tuition. In return, we would expect to get an all-around education that’ll enable us to compete in an educational or intelligence marketplace. However, two people may attend the same school, study the same course, graduate at the same time and still get different grades. We all grasp and see things differently. Even Siamese twins don’t have the same mental wirings.

Due to our genetic differences, two people are not the same. All first-class graduates may have similar IQs, but it doesn’t guarantee that they possess the same open market value. In today’s marketplace, you don’t get paid for showing up or for just your level of education. You get paid for the value you can provide an organisation. Your value is measured by the number of problems to which you can find creative solutions.

As an entrepreneur, I understand that to get my customers to pay me, I’ll have to design a product that matches their needs, and bring it to the shelf near them at a very competitive price. If the customers find my product valuable, they’ll come back to repurchase and also choose my product above others.

When a company wants to hire for a position, they carry out both internal and external advertisements to source for candidates to fill the position. For example, let’s say they get about 10 candidates who applied for the role, they may filter their resumes and settle for 5 people. The interview process would commence and they would schedule interview dates with potential candidates.

Remember that the company’s representatives already have an idea of the ideal candidate for the position, and the purpose of the interview process is simply to ascertain who, in their opinion, possesses the necessary traits and qualifications. During the interview, if you don’t tick the boxes, they’d decide to go a different route.  The purpose of the interview was to mentally analyse if you possess the value you’d be expected to deliver to the organisation and if they can’t feel it, you’re out. It’s that simple.

As individuals, our lifelong experiences, choices, decisions, values, achievements, talent, and transferable skill sets have a huge impact on the person we would/have become. There is a reason behind every person you cross paths with in life, hence our experiences play a significant role in our worth as a person. In essence, the quality of our personality determines our market value.

I believe that every individual has value no matter how minute it may seem that they are contributing to the world. I remember in 1996 when the Nigerian National team was playing football somewhere in Atlanta. The role of the cheer squad was not just to cheer the players on but to cheer all Nigerians to mentally remind ourselves that regardless of what happened, we were winners. What that did to our psyche cannot be quantified – we did win a gold medal.

There are ways to improve your market value.

Be authentic

I put this first because you cannot get much done in today’s world without being your authentic self. We live at a time where “fake it till you make it” is the norm but I always ask, for how long? The best thing about being true to yourself is that you build trust, and project reliability and consistency – an important attribute that is lacking in so many areas of life. Before you buy Coca-Cola, you already know the flavour and you’ll expect it to taste the same as it did when you drank it 10 years ago. If it tastes like champagne, you’d immediately know that there’s a defect in the product. Though being authentic makes you predictable, being grounded in who you are in the morning, afternoon and night gives you the peace of mind needed to sail through life seamlessly.

Leverage your passion

As we grow older, life becomes more hectic because our responsibility increases. This is why they say life is not a bed of roses. Despite the strong demeanour we may be attributing to our friends and associates, we all are dealing with a lot behind the scene. The worst thing anyone can do to themselves is to be in a job or position that doesn’t ignite passion and doesn’t give the feeling of fulfilment. When you add all of life’s challenges to spending the most productive part of your life working on something that doesn’t gives you inner joy, that’s a recipe for burnout and failure. Working optimally requires your full attention and by nature, humans give attention to what they are passionate about.

Seek new opportunities

One of the ways to improve your market value is to seek out new opportunities. Whether you own a business or are employed, it is important not to get comfortable with the status quo. As a business owner, you need partnerships to propel your business toward reaching new heights or quotas. A step up is mandatory for career growth. Find new ways to add value to yourself, your resume or your business. Doing that will not equip you for the challenges ahead but will position you strategically for success.

Form strategic relationships

There’s a saying that “the bond you create with people will take you much further with them than your product ever will.” Aligning with people who complement our weakness with their strengths not just emotionally strengthen us, it is one of the fundamental principles of success. Form alliances with different people from different walks of life, you may need them at some point in the course of your life.

Be valuable

When you enter a grocery shop, you’ll be welcomed with thousands of products. Each product represents value. A customer comes into the shop to find a product that will provide value. A product that serves no need has no business being on the shelf. Same with people, there’s no reason for an employer to employ workers without a definitive role carved out for them. Equally, it is irrelevant for a job seeker to accept a position without the willingness to bring optimum professionalism to the role. Be it a product or an employee, the bottom line is to be valuable to whoever needs your services.

A business or an individual that offers no value is not sustainable and cannot survive in any economy or organisation. Everything begins and ends with value in the marketplace. Though it may not seem like it, we live in a world of quid pro quo – you relinquish something to get something. To be financially free, you’d first have to be financially literate. To get to your destination, you’ll first have to take the first step. Even to get to heaven, you’ll first have to die – no pun intended.

It’s all up to you to either lay low or pursue the kind of life you want for yourself. At the end of the day, the ball is in your court.

Written with context from Bella Naija.