How I Turned From An Auditor, IT Implementation Consultant To An Online Entrepreneur in 8 Years

By Ellesse

Editor’s Note : This article is written to help those who’ve been thinking whether to make the leap in changing careers. It was never my intention to toot my own horn. As you’ll soon realize – after reading this – that there’s really nothing that glorifying at all! Months since writing this article, I’ve also ventured into other online businesses projects while maintaining Goal Setting College and have hence renamed the title of this article.

Do you know what people brand you as when you’re doing something they dream of but yet couldn’t bring the courage to? Let me give you a clue. It starts with the letter ‘M’.

No idea?

The supportive ones will call you a Maverick. They’ll tell you things like “You know something? At times I really admire you. You know what you want and you’ll gallantly go all out to pursue it. I can’t do that. I don’t have the guts.”

changing careers info i need help deciding which career to choose
The cynical ones? They’ll regard you as a Moron, thinking that your decision to try a totally different arena extremely silly and secretly wishing that one day, you’ll scram back to where you started. They’ll occasionally ask you “How’s things going?“, trying to probe you on the status of your progress, waiting for the moment to prove that they were right about your decision in the first place. That you’re destined to fail the moment you start.

It’s sad. But over the course of my 2 major career switches. I’ve constantly encountered these 2 groups of people. And to tell you the truth, I think they existed for a reason. They’re there to add fuel to your desire, making it even more burning than before. They’re there to prove that you’re right. Because what you’re doing is something so worthy that they’ve subconsciously admitted to it by reacting the way they did! Your passion to pursue what you want in life only serves to dwarf their own insecurity and cowardice in doing the same!

I hope that by sharing with you my story, I’ll be able to encourage the “Maverick” (or “Moron” … :) ) in you to take that first step to “Find a Better Job”. Ignore the naysayers. Challenge the odds. And make your dream a reality.

Getting Started in The Corporate Jungle

8 years ago, I was just another fresh accountancy graduate eager to make my mark in the commercial world. Even though I didn’t secure an interview with any of the Big 4 International Accounting firms – which was considered the holy grail in the accountancy profession – I was lucky and thrilled to be offered a job immediately after I graduated.

But that happiness was short-lived. As I was rotating across different departments doing tax, accounting and auditing in a local public accounting firm, my sense of unfulfilment increased. I was either doing menial work such as audit vouching, filing, vetting tax submissions at my company or routine tasks such as data entry and churning out cheques for payments at a client’s place. Often working into the wee hours of the morning. There was one time where I was at my client’s office rushing through month end closing just to avoid the possible Y2K bug in their accounting system – while my friends were waiting for me to join in the Millennium year count down. I started asking myself. Is that the life I want to lead for the rest of my career as an accountant or auditor?

As I was furiously typing away on the keyboard, I secretly made a pact with myself. I had to go.

Deciding To Go Into IT

That was it. Once I’ve consciously set that goal, everything else really took care of themselves.

Every Saturday, I would spontaneously scour through my local recruitment papers or websites and look out for positions which seemed promising. I noticed that financial systems solution firms were sourcing for people of my qualifications and remembered how much I enjoyed my 2 months professional attachment with one such firm as an business analyst intern in my sophomore year. In fact, I liked it so much that I continued the same project I was working on in that company as my final year graduation project work with 2 other friends.

I decided to go for it. Since my University grades weren’t good enough for those top consultancy firms, I tried a different strategy. I went for entry positions in smaller and mid sized firms. Many of my friends scorned at the idea, thinking that working for smaller companies don’t add much value to one’s credentials. And besides, what if I didn’t like it there? I would have wasted precious time running around different companies.

I know tons of people are probably in the same situation. They’re so afraid of taking the wrong step in their career that they would rather tread the “proven” path. Go to an auditing firm. Work for 3 years. Use it as a stepping stone to get into a multinational corporation. Crunch numbers for the rest of your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that being an auditor or accountant is unworthy. If this is a conscious career choice you’ve decided, by all means go ahead. In fact, it’s a great recipe to follow if that what you want to be. A high flying finance professional. But the irony is, most people didn’t chose what they want to do because they really want to do that. They probably did that because others were also doing the same. That it was a convenient decision. Or because their parents, spouse, family or friends expected them to do so.

I understood all the risks my friends were talking about at that time. But I told myself. What did I really have to lose? I wasn’t the smartest kid in school. I didn’t have much systems experience. Most importantly, I was young. As long as I was able to get into a systems related job, I don’t mind working from the bottom. I didn’t even mind getting the same low pay I was offered at the public accounting firm. Even world famous motivational speaker Anthony Robbins started with a humble background as a janitor! And guess what? The strategy worked.

8 months into my first job, I was offered an analyst position in an IT solutions firm.

And in the 4 years I worked with that firm, I traveled extensively within Asia for various system rollouts, got to know a bunch of colleagues – who taught me so much about life in the cubicle farm – and underwent great professional growth. Friends who were skeptical about my career move started to give me their blessings. It was also during then that I got to know an acquaintance from Hong Kong who recommended Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad to me. I loved that book. But I didn’t know it would actually change my life the way it had.

My career went into a standstill as I joined my 3rd job an implementation consultant. Even though I liked the traveling, was generously compensated and even promoted the first year I joined them, the pressures of the job was depriving me of time with my family and myself. It was eating into my health. As I continue to ponder over my life purpose, my career compass began to point to an untapped territory.

I knew I wanted something different this time.

Researching On A New Career

Reading Rich Dad Poor Dad gave me an awakening because even though I was a trained accountant and knew the nuts and bolts about finance, I was new to the concept of residual income and being financial independent. While still holding my second job, I began doing a lot of research. At that time, one of my good friends was doing Network Marketing. She was selling health nutritional supplements and was advocating how I could join their organization to learn more about their compensation plans and probably find the answer I was seeking.

Even though I was determined to find a way to get out of the rat race, Network Marketing was something I felt I wasn’t suitable. Especially after my incessant research. I knew myself. I wasn’t into health care and selling nutritional supplements, though financially rewarding wasn’t something that I could foresee myself doing in the long run.

At the same time, I also toyed with many different business ideas. Brick and mortar franchises and other offline businesses, personal financial planning consultancy services, eBay or Yahoo auction niche sites, affiliate marketing and even silly online ventures such as get paid to read emails. You name it, I’ve probably considered or even tried it before.

In 2005, I started Goal Setting College. I was having hands-on experience building my first static website a few years back through a premium affiliate marketing course and decided to build a site that was on something I was really enthusiastic about. Goal Setting and Personal Development. It started off solely as a resource site and gradually evolved to be the place I share my personal development learnings, experiences and experiments. I absolutely love it!

As I juggle my day job with my writing on Goal Setting College, I began to see its potential. The money earned from it wasn’t substantial but the articles were gaining some traction from the search engines and blog carnivals, amid some teething realizations. Visitors were downloading my free Goal Setting Tutorial. Some readers became my online friends. Steve Pavlina & Darren Rowse‘s successes soon became my inspiration.

“But do you have to quit your job to pursue all these?” You’re right. I don’t need to. I could’ve worked full time on my day job and still write by the side. Would I have a safety net then? Yes. Would I be stretching myself to the fullest then? Yes. Would I be living the life that I’ve set out pursue in the first place? No. I would probably be so busy traveling around the region preparing for implementation, doing support & project management that I would just leave Goal Setting College latent. And let it suffer a slow death.

I reckon. If I were to die tomorrow, would I be sad that I didn’t implement the system in another office, answer another user’s support call or would I regret giving up the chance to give this a shot, succeed and win to tell the tale like I do now?

I made up my mind. I’ve decided to burn my bridges.

The Day I Say “I Quit!”

When I told my ex boss over the phone that I’m quitting, he was very shocked. He told me he never saw it coming. I looked happy, fulfilled and was enjoying great working relationships with my team members. I traveled frequently around the region for business and had good rapport with my users all over the world. In fact, I was just promoted a year ago and given a pretty nice salary increment. Leaving the team was the last thing I would ever do. At least that was what he thought. While that was all true, what he didn’t see was the latent unfulfilled dream I was harbouring.

He asked me for the reason. I told him. I told him it was an entirely personal decision and had absolutely nothing to do with the company nor the team. I liked what I was doing. I was excited about the great plans he had for us and how I would play an important part in spearheading them. However, that was not strong enough to snuff out the desire in me. The burning desire to write wholeheartedly for Goal Setting College.

During the telephone conversation, he never gave up trying to talk me out of making such a seemingly rush decision. Giving up a well paid, extremely promising job in a multinational corporation just for a taste of being the boss of “a wobbly small business” – which I didn’t really reveal much about – didn’t make sense to him. Yes, that was what he sees the whole saga. A silly decision.

Many friends & associates who knew about my decision were likewise astonished. I could literally see them separating into the camp which called me a “Maverick”. As well as the other that thought I was a “Moron”. But the worst ones were those who said they were supportive but were in fact cynical.

In my last week with the company, I was on my way home on the subway with a Hong Kong business associate who was going back to his hotel. Before he alighted, he left those parting words that I would never forget “All the best in your future endeavours. But keep your options open. I’m sure if your business doesn’t work out, we can always make arrangements for you to come back.” Gee. Did I hear a snigger somewhere?

Skeptical Joes are always waiting to pounce on their next victim. But are you going to let them stop you from taking the confident jump that your heart calls affectionately for?

I decided not to. What about you?

*Photo By *Zara Under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License


19 Responses to “How I Turned From An Auditor, IT Implementation Consultant To An Online Entrepreneur in 8 Years”

  1. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul at 3:32 am

    Great article! Hurray for taking a chance and going your own way. I went from being a wannabe opera singer and working as a voice teacher to self-employment as a massage therapist, to Intuitive Consultant and author. Transitions are never easy, but life is simply too short not to follow our hearts!

    My motto is – Embrace your passion and the money will follow. That’s my experience, anyway!


  2. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker at 6:13 am

    Ellesse, thanks for sharing your story with us. Maverick is a very good title. Trail blazer might be another one. You are truly an inspiration for following your dream.

  3. kirsten at 6:14 am

    Inspiring, Ellesse, always interesting to hear how people evolve along their path. You need to add another M word to your successes, though–marvelous!

  4. Mark at 6:29 pm

    Hi Ellesse – what a FANTASTIC post! I am always happy to read about what other people are doing to achieve their goals.

  5. Erin Melnick - Modern & Millions Maven at 9:37 pm

    Dear Ellesse,

    After reading this article, I may have to change my one moniker to Maverick rather than Maven!!

    Thank you for your inspiration and courage … and congratulations!!!

    I truly believe that entrepreneurs, by following our true hearts’ desires everyday, change the world for the better.

    Thank you for the part you’ve played.


    Erin Thoms Melnick
    Modern & Millions Maven

  6. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for the inspiration. I love these stories for the courage they demonstrate to others. Let’s hope that by example you can nudge a few more to take the leap.

    I recall a similar time in my own life. I was making big money in sales and only had to work 10 months a year. I had the freedom to work as little or as much as I liked. Yet the deep inner fulfillment was missing. I am a pioneer and selling somebody else’s creations did not fit who I am.

    My first business was viewed a failure by many but I had my freedom which I’ll never surrender. It truly doesn’t matter what others say or think. You’re correct; it’s just their fear talking.

    All turns out well when we honor who we are. Keep encouraging your readers to go for it!

  7. Ellesse at 8:25 am

    Thank you so much, guys and girls!

    @Andrea I can always count on you for kickstarting a wonderful conversation! Yes, I truly attest to you about money following one’s passion. Though it wasn’t totally about money that I’ve taken this path, but the lifestyle. This concept is slowly catching on in our society and I’m really happy to see this phenomenon. I guess like what you’ve said, life is too short to give up what you truly wish for. I’m totally sold on this! Especially with the recent spate of events happening in my own family now.

    @Pat & Kirsten Thanks for your wonderful words and for giving Goal Setting College the support over these past month(s). Without you guys and gals adding on to the chatter every now and then, it’s definitely a lonely path! You’re no idea how much I really appreciate you all! :)

    @Mark me too! I know you’ve written a similar piece over at Way to go, pal! Am going over to give you my support now…

    @Erin Absolutely! Thanks for adding on to the encouragement! You’re so right about entrepreneurs in that aspect. I believe that there’s an entrepreneur within everyone of us. An entrepreneur with lots of potential waiting to be uncovered. An entrepreneur always willing to step forward when the occasion calls for it. An entrepreneur who trying to build something for the value they deliver to people around them. When will that entrepreneur in us show up?

    When we’ve decided to leave that cocoon.

    @Tom I admire your tenacity as much as I love the enthusiasim you ignite through your writing. I don’t deny viewing failure as failure in the past. But and seeing the ups and downs on the growth of this site coupled with the various aspects of life, I’ve to admit failure has taken a slightly different meaning to me these days. I see them as positive feedback and inspiration for the generation of better ideas. And you’ve proven that to me by what you’ve said. Because if that was the “failure” you went through to become the person you’re today, I’ve to say, it’s definitely a road well taken. Well worth it!

  8. Tejvan Pettinger at 11:21 am

    Interesting article. I’m in the process of moving towards being a full time blogger. At the moment, I am working part time, which suits me well and in a couple of years I can go full time.

    It’s always inspiring to hear of people who have made the leap.

    best, Tejvan

  9. Will Kriski at 4:21 pm

    Great to hear you pursuing your passion! I’m still doing blogging and other things on the side, while I save my money as an IT consultant. When I went back to school at 36 to study jazz guitar there were lots of snickers and I was twice as old as the other students. But it shows how rare it is for people to really go after what they want.

    Will Kriski

  10. Ellesse at 7:11 am

    @Tejvan Congrats to you too! It’s great to see people who’ve got similar aspirations working passionately towards their goals. I’ve seen your articles and I know it’s a matter of time before you take the leap too.

    @Will Thanks for sharing your story! Age is frankly not an issue. As long as you’ve got the burning desire, faith and keep it strong… nothing is ever difficult for anyone. All the best and I hope to see a video of you strumming the jazz guitar on your blog one day!

  11. Goddess in the Groove at 7:04 pm

    Greetings Ellesse!

    What a wonderful article. Spent a few years in several different careers, always thinking it was “it”. It was “it”, right until I worked my way through the ins and outs, and become bored and frustrated :) . When my oldest was 2, I “quit” corporate America…dawdled in various direct sales venues…then “quit” the networking world!

    I think we all evolve, and I praise those who are brave enough to discover themselves. It is not a safe route, but alas, one of happiness!

    I have dedicated myself to my mission, empowering women through my website, I am also a “Goddess Butt Painter” (my son made up that title for me, and I find it much more entertaining that pendant maker!), and the day I decided to say “I am a writer” when people asked me, I began preparing to compile my work for a book. I recently self-published my first book, “Goddess in the Groove ~ Musings From the Goddess Within”.

    Are sacrifices being made now that I live an “artist’s life”?? Absolutely! But I am on a path!

    Heike Boehnke-Sharp

  12. Ellesse at 2:22 am

    @Heike, you know something? I’ve personally benefit more from reading the comments in this post than actually writing the article! It’s so fulfilling to know that there are so many people like yourself who’ve already or thinking of making big waves in their career.

    I agree 100% with you on the statement that “It is not a safe route, but alas, one of happiness!”. Frankly, the only certain thing in life is its uncertainty. A seemingly safe option may not necessary be bona fide “safe” in the true sense. I’ve seen people lose their jobs from downsizing and quitting due to family commitments.

    Since safety is not guaranteed at all, it’s seems to much more intuitive to just follow your gut feel and take the path that makes you happy. One that’s really close to your heart.

  13. SaiF at 4:23 pm

    Hey Ellesse!

    Wow your story is truly inspirational!

    You CHOSE to break away from the Singaporean mentality that we have to trade our time for money.

    You may think that “there’s really nothing glorifying about it” but in my opinion you did something GREATER than you think!

    It’s easier to get stuck in the cycle of things and although it was risky, you were confident in yourself and went for it! That’s absolutely admirable!

    You know what’s funny Ellesse. When I was reading this, I was thinking why does this sound familiar? And it turns out that I just wrote posted a video of Jim Rohn talking about the 4 Steps:

    You can watch it here: The Day That Turns Your Life Around

    To CANI,

    The World’s First Teen
    Personal Development Video Blogger

  14. Ellesse at 8:20 am

    @SaiF I’m glad you resonate with the article! Looking at your tagline, I know you’re definitely someone who can’t wait to break the rules… A real rarity among my fellow countrymen…. all the way, pal! I’m rooting for you…

    I believe the convention of trading time for money is a deep seated idea. It’s not wrong, just a way we’re brought up thinking that that’s the only avenue… Frankly, I still trading time… not exactly for money but value. How much value I can create in my life. How much value can I create in the people who read my articles.

    Btw, thanks for the link to your article too…

  15. Successful Career Change at 8:56 am


    Good on you!

    About that “Keeping your options open” comment:

    I listened to that siren call not so long ago and what a mistake (aka learning opportunity) that proved to be.

    Go with your flow – and like the American Football video clip in your post, be the Titan you can be.

    btw – I have linked to a book review on my blog for anyone interested in transitioning OUT of an IT career. Yes, it does happen…

    mark mcclure

  16. Ellesse at 11:20 pm

    @Mark, thanks for the heads up on the book review. Sometimes, going with the flow can be a good but seriously, nothing beats knowing what you want and “blatantly” go all out for it!

  17. Steven at 1:40 am

    Glad to read about your decision to let go of one security in search of a “non-security”. Many of us tend to cling to something which we feel have given us the security all the years and we have grown our roots so deep that it causes a lot of pain to be uprooted. A friend of mine once advise me – don’t entangle yourself with too many baggages and you will find it will be quite light to travel to wherever you want to go. It is true….when we have less baggages, we have less cause to worry and to lose….Great for you, Ellesse

  18. Anu at 8:02 am


    Thats truly an inspiring article!! but what if, you are uncertain what to do next after quitting your frustrating job. I was always way above average in my school, college and got a job in the most reputed organisation even before finishing college. After 1 year or so, I realised that its not what I wanted to do, but then I continued just for the high pay and ofcourse for some of my best friends. Now I quit, but then I realised I was always doing what others wanted me to do (read as my family, relatives) , and I just didnt care about being myself. Through this journey, as I concentrated only on my studies I missed all the fun at school, college and never brushed up any of my other talents. I’m totally stuck up!!

    I would like to know your comments on the same

  19. Ellesse at 5:29 am

    @Steven You’re absolutely right. The less emotional baggage you’ve got, the easier it is to set sail. I guess for me, the fact that I’m single and with lesser financial commitments, it’s much easier to start. But having the courage to start is only a small part of the equation. You’ll need a very strong set of beliefs to keep you going. Without which, it’s easy to give everything up and go back to square 1. And that in itself can be more emotionally draining that mustering the courage to start.

    @Anu Sadly, Anu, only you will have the answers to what you really want to do. It’s perfectly alright to feel undecided or even overwhelmed with all the choices, options that others are suggesting. But remember, it’s your life that you’re leading. Not theirs. Focus your energies on the things you need to do now, and that’s none other than searching for the direction within your own life. Take out a piece of paper and start writing/brainstorming on the careers or passions you’ve always loved and reckon how it would be like to make it a career. And review each introspectively and ask yourself what is it that you need to make it a reality. Seek advice and guidance from others as you go along but only when you’ve thought through that yourself first. And as you go along this, continually searching and taking up new experiences, you’ll be able to discover ultimately your path and direction.

    Also, it’s important to continually look forward. What has happened in the past (i.e. missing all the fun while studying hard) are essential for formulating your current outlook and perspective. Use that as a platform – a launchpad for moving into greater heights, newer ground. Not baggage – sorry for the pun, Steven – for pulling you down. So what if you worked hard in college and didn’t have the time to take up new talents or skills? Use that as an impetus to encourage yourself “Gee, I didn’t have a chance to brush up on xxx, now that I’ve more time, I’ll learn it now!”.


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