How quitting my job helped me elevate my career

The decision to leave full-time employment and go it alone was tough but it proved to be the right thing to do

Employees of Chernobyl nuclear power plant wait for a bus after work at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine April 20, 2018.  REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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I joined the public sector when I graduated from the UK with my master’s degree and worked there for six years.

During that time, I started my writing career with The National, expanded the fashion line that I managed then, and also started my consultancy business.

I enjoyed both aspects of my work: the public and the private. Because my background is in media, my role in the public sector involved me managing communications projects, I enjoyed that very much and I learnt a lot. I equally enjoyed writing and the projects I executed for private sector clients through my consultancy.

My consultancy grew so fast; I was invited to speak at many events, run many project and travel a lot, that I had little time left. I could only work on my business after I left my job at 4pm, and by that time I was drained, because I'm a morning person, and there's no way I can be completely focused in the evening.

That meant that I couldn’t give 100 per cent to my clients, and also meant that I barely had any time for my social life. I was working when I was on vacation and into the late hours of the night. My skin reflected my stress levels and that stressed me even more.

I felt like I risked losing everything I had built if I continued at that rate. It took me a long time to decide, and it was probably one of the toughest decisions to make, but I knew I had to quit my day job, and I did.

I have not looked back since.

Quitting my job helped me elevate my career in so many ways. When people advised me not to and to try as much as I could to juggle both jobs, I always thought what’s the worst that could happen?

If I failed at my business, I could always go back to a day job. Here’s how quitting my job helped my career:

It freed up time

Quitting my job automatically meant that I had eight extra hours in my day, and that translated to more meetings, more “focused” time for strategic planning during the day when my engagement is at its highest, and more time to travel. Most importantly, it meant that I had more personal time, and a happy me meant that I was more productive and relaxed.

It helped push me forward

When you have a day job to lean back on, and a guaranteed salary at the end of the month, you may find yourself slacking a bit. You may not push yourself so hard to attract clients, and you may not fight so hard to receive a better fee. You may agree to X amount and not be bothered to negotiate more. But when your business is the only thing you’ve got in terms of an income, you’ll work extra hard in order to maintain a steady flow of cash and that’s exactly what I had to do.

I negotiated and asked for a better fee for my projects. I revised my pricing sheet, as well as thought of more creative ways to receive income. In fact, I never felt prouder about the money I earned than when I earned it through my business. 

Helped expand my knowledge

Managing my own business meant that I had to learn all the time. I needed to be aware of all the trends and market news. I needed to always be on top of things. Being in a media career means that you can’t stop learning.

There's no "off" button. Quitting my job also pushed me to attend more workshops, seminars and networking events. I've joined online seminars, and learning institutions. I'm also proud to be part of Sharjah's Sheraa cohort programme where I've worked with mentors and attended workshops that helped elevate my business and accelerated its performance. What I've learned with Sheraa over the course of eight weeks or so is more than what I have acquired in a couple of years. I wouldn't have been able to do that had I been working at my previous job.

 I'm not against full-time employment or working for the public sector. That's where I learnt important lessons that helped me with my business. However, the option of being an entrepreneur provides millennials like me the opportunity to learn, grow and do something that I'm head over heels in love with, and it's something I encourage people to try.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi