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