Why Quitting My Job Was the Best Decision I Made in my life

While waiting for the November 2018 Bar Examination Results, I applied for a position at a Big Four Firm in Makati. Joining a massive firm was some sort of a full circle for me as it is the only field of accountancy practice I have yet to enter. 

I was in the private sector when I became a Certified Public Accountant, working as a Consultant for a subsidiary of PLDT implementing accounting solutions for small and medium businesses. Before entering law school, I joined the academe as a part-time college lecturer at Ateneo de Davao University. After finishing law school and taking the Bar Exam, I felt that public practice is the place to be. 

Fortunately, the firm hired me as a Senior Associate at its highly-competitive tax practice under International Tax Consulting. The idea behind this decision was to gain enough experience and competency to help me land a job should Michael and I decide to settle in the UK soon. After all, the firm is part of a global network comprising the world’s most prestigious multi-professional services firm.

The firm is a highly respected one in the industry. It is the oldest accounting and auditing firm in the country. And I heard that its hiring process is one of the most competitive and rigorous in the industry. 

I officially joined the firm in February 2019. 

There I was welcomed by my colleagues with open arms. I joined a team of brilliant and highly-competent practitioners under the tutelage of partners who are highly respected industry experts. Until now, I am still in awe that I was hired to be part of highly-intelligent individuals committed to solving industry problems and delivering solutions for businesses in the country. In short, joining the firm was the highlight of my professional career. 

Working with great minds

I always view it as a privilege to be able to work with some of the best in the tax practice in the Philippines. I was at the forefront of some of the deliberations by great minds trying to solve some pressing tax matters and business challenges in the country. 

I also participated in the firm’s tax reform team, where we analyzed tax issues to be submitted to Congress during the enactment of the tax reform bills. The fulfillment you get thinking that the things you are working on can significantly impact the people of your country is priceless. 

I have learned a lot from my stint. I have learned from my bosses how to be critical in analyzing and looking into the laws of our country. I have also learned the art of research, perseverance, and patience from my colleagues, all in the pursuit of answers to the problems we seek to solve. 

And I also love the firm’s culture. 

Contrary to horror stories from friends and people I know who have worked at public practice firms, my experience was more of camaraderie and teamwork. I made friends during my one and half year stay at the firm, learned to laugh the stress away, and beat the deadlines without causing unnecessary drama. 

I guess I was fortunate that my manager was the same age as me. We clicked and vibed perfectly, making our team dynamics more fluid. It was a bonus that the Junior Associates under me were also brilliant and resourceful, supplementing what I lacked as the Senior Associate of the team. 

Overtime was highly discouraged during my time. But since I waste a lot of my hours during the morning shift, I need more than the remaining hours in the afternoon to develop a credible draft for my manager’s review. I thought it was more of my lack of organization and proper time management that led to long work hours just to beat the deadline.

Sure, the firm’s quota for the team’s revenue played a role in us getting so many clients and causing nightmares on our deadlines. But my lack of real-world experience is also partly to blame. As a graduate of a prestigious law school, I was expected to know the law and be skilled in articulating my knowledge to our clients. But I was sorely lacking in practical skills, applying my legal knowledge to real-world situations, and analyzing businesses to provide tailor-fit solutions. 

Learning takes time. And if I had stayed, by now, I could have gained the practical skills to solve problems in a much shorter time. As they say, experience is the best teacher.

Time for reckoning

In October 2019, my boyfriend got fed up with Manila’s traffic and decided to return to Davao City. He was planning to expand our business services and open an office facility. 

We explored opening in Makati, but the office rental in the city was just too expensive. We were still bootstrapping the business during that time. The business earnings were just like a monthly salary of a Director of the firm. Spending so much money is impractical and would just bleed us financially. 

It was I who suggested Davao City. The largest metropolis of southern Philippines has much cheaper office rental rates, which was the best option for a start-up like us. It means we can continue tweaking our business models at a much more affordable rate. It was less risky that way.

But I was in the middle of a massive project at that time. I cannot leave the firm. I did not want to leave the firm. I love what I’m doing, and I don’t think moving back to my hometown would give me the career trajectory I had then. Massive as it was, Davao City still needs the type of clients I worked with in Makati. 

So boyfriend went back to Davao City and pursued our business plans. And we were in a long-distance relationship then as I opted to stay in Makati. 

Expanding the business in Davao City on his own proved to be a mess for my boyfriend. Excellent as he is as an entrepreneur, my boyfriend needs more patience and tenacity for business registration and regulatory compliance. He would sometimes call me asking how to prepare the application form or simply complain about the ridiculous paperwork needed to open a business in the Philippines. 

Nonetheless, he was persistent and stubborn. He was a potential and an opportunity to offer a new service that could elevate the business to a new level.

During the Christmas break of 2019, I realized I missed my boyfriend. And that working for the firm, which I greatly enjoy, is no longer rewarding due to longing and the feeling of emptiness as I was alone during the weekends. It was different when my boyfriend was still in Makati, as we got to do things together on weekends to make up for my absence during weekdays. 

By January 2020, we had already hired about five people, and I was tasked with the payroll. It was easy as I only needed to process the salary of five people. I’d process our staff’s wages in about 15 minutes, using GCash to send them the funds. I would later realize that sending salaries through GCash is impractical due to its fund limitations for each account. By the end of January 2020, our staff count has doubled.

It was February when I tendered my resignation letter, effective 12 March 2020. I felt it was the right time. The business is growing, and I need to take an active role for us to prepare for the bigger things to come. I got the feeling that my time should now be more devoted to the business.

And it was the right decision. By the end of 2020, our staff count has reached 60. 

Resigning was the Best Decision I made

When I left the firm, it was full of uncertainties. I no longer have a job and lost the monthly salary I used to contribute to our household expenses. Worse, a few days after I officially became unemployed, the Philippine Government announced nationwide lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I spent the first few months of my unemployment holed up at home. My boyfriend urged me to use the time to prepare for my solo practice. You see, in order for me to actively manage our business, I have to leave my employment and become a private practitioner. 

As a lawyer in his fledgling solo practice, I suddenly got control of my time. I became my very own boss.

I overhauled my website and started writing content for the services I planned to offer. After that, I optimized my online presence to get a better ranking on the search engine results page. My days working as a virtual assistant came in handy, as I spent days doing SEO work and website optimization. 

I started getting several inquiries and landed my first client by November 2020. By December, I hired my first secretary to assist me with my engagements. I officially became an employer myself. The flow of clients could have been more steady, and there were days when my secretary and I had nothing to do.

At the end of 2020, our business has earned five times compared to 2019. And using the things I have learned from the firm, I structured the company to be more tax efficient and formed an LLC in Wyoming, USA. Business-wise, our figures exploded and achieved month-on-month growth. 

2021 came, and we’ve seen the same growth trajectory. Our fear that 2020 was just a one-off bump in our revenue became unfounded as our monthly growth continued. We’ve consistently topped our previous month, and our team has started to grow always.

The business’s success allowed me to give my solo practice more time to grow. And boy, the growth was slow. Offering legal and accounting services in Davao City yielded a lower volume of clients than expected. The rates are also different in Manila. But I persisted with my boyfriend supporting me along the way. 

Finally, I got to several clients that can sustain my staff and me, albeit our company still subsidizes the office. Nonetheless, it significantly improved compared to 2020, when I became a solo practitioner online.

But more than the financial rewards, my decision to become a solo practitioner allowed me to gain control of my time. And owning your time is the most rewarding thing, allowing for a flexible and more relaxed lifestyle.

I now understood my boyfriend when he said he would never work for someone. He has always strived to be the boss and has naturally leaned towards entrepreneurship. Business, to him, means freedom and being able to control your destiny. 

Takeaway

Getting rid of my employment allowed me to go outside of my comfort zone and think outside the box. It was hard at first since I was wired since childhood to get my diploma and work for a company to earn a good and stable salary. Becoming a salaryman was the goal my parents and my upbringing set for me. 

It was comforting when you expect a monthly salary. You get to sleep sound and peacefully at night, knowing you’ll have money to pay your bills. 

But owning a business (a solo practice is also a business) means feast or famine. You get to rise and fall based on your hustle and hard work. There is no safety net of the regular salary. You will occasionally worry if you have enough to pay for your overhead and staff’s salaries. But at the same time, the financial reward is limitless. 

You get to reap the rewards of your success because you’ve borne the risks of its failure. 

I love my stint at the firm. My learnings while working with the best in the industry came in handy when I took an active role in the business. The tax training I got helped us become more tax efficient. And the analytical skills that were sharpened by the people I worked with at the firm allowed us to solve several setbacks in our journey. 

Leaving the firm at the right time was a blessing. I went when I had not yet achieved significant professional milestones that would make it hard to turn my back. However, the intense workload gave me sufficient skills and training to survive in the wild. And for that, I am eternally grateful to the partners, directors, managers, and associates I have worked with.

But quitting my job at a Big Four firm was the best decision ever. 

Shelu Abapo
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