“A full-time job is security in an unstable world. Do you regret your decision?” is a common question I am often asked by people who are curious as to why I left a high-paying job in the semi-government sector.
What many don’t know is that I have been an entrepreneur at heart ever since I was a child, something I inherited from my late grandfathers.
I organised spring fairs in our garden for our family members, published a small magazine that I printed at home that I sold at our neighbourhood bookstore for Dh5, and came up with my own taglines for advertisements.
I loved being creative and being part of projects that promoted creativity in any form.
I ventured into entrepreneurship more seriously when I was a student at university and continued to manage a couple of ventures on the side while I pursued a full-time job.
I led the corporate communication division for a semi-government organisation for seven years, before I decided to leave to develop my ventures further. It wasn’t the easiest decision to make but it was a decision that, had I not taken it, would have left me wondering for the rest of life.
I often get asked if I miss getting a steady income as I had a high salary and worked at a location that was conveniently close to my home.
When I decided to resign, I made sure that I had enough savings to sustain my standard of living for a minimum of two years.
Fast-forward several years after resigning from my job and navigating through a pandemic that redefined how we perceive work, some are still sceptical about my decision.
A common question I’m asked now is 'how has my entrepreneurship journey been for me, and would I do things differently if I could go back in time?'
One word comes to mind: rollercoaster.
What I like most about entrepreneurship is being able to do work about which I am extremely passionate every day of my life, as well as doing things on my own terms and, of course, the pleasure of seeing the fruits of my labour and inspiring people around me.
The challenging part is that managing a business means your mind is on all the time. Everything is your responsibility, especially at the initial stages, and you need to ensure that all elements of the business are aligned with your overall vision.
During tough times, your team looks to you for guidance and you depend on yourself to make things work. There are times when the outlook is bleak and times when things don’t seem to get any better.
While pursuing individual aspirations is great, there are also elements of the corporate world that I miss.
I miss being part of a big team, collaborating with colleagues on exciting projects and meeting various people in my previous career.
I learnt important lessons and the knowledge I acquired complements my journey as an entrepreneur.
I don’t think I’d be where I am today had I not delved into the corporate world.
That said, I don’t regret moving on from my previous job. Even during times of uncertainty, when progress seems hard, amid the uncertainty, I am grateful for my entrepreneurship journey. I’m grateful for the lessons learnt along the way as an entrepreneur. I am grateful to the people I met, the people I worked with and the person I have become.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi