Amanda Gascoigne confesses to not being your typical accountant, nor has she followed the conventional path. Tossing up between being a textiles and design high school teacher, a fashion designer or an accountant, she chose the latter and fortunately she has managed to shrug off the stigma of being a boring bean counter!
With ambitions of making partner, a stronger desire for work/life balance and motherhood won out, so in 1999 Gascoigne Consulting was formed. Not your typical accounting practice model, Amanda did things her way and the innovation, technology and mindset that she embraced was probably 10 years ahead of its time for a firm of her size.
Amanda’s latest venture, Amanda Gascoigne Consulting, sees her packing up her calculator and sharing her strategies and secrets of success with fellow small and solo accounting practice owners around Australia as a consultant, mentor and coach.
- Tell us a little about your career path
During high school days, I worked for quite a few small accounting businesses, so that’s probably where my love of business came from. Being good at maths and numbers, I decided to follow up a career in accounting. So, I did a traditional journey into accounting; I went full time at university for three years and during that last year I was lucky enough to get the position for the research assistant to the professor of accounting. I stayed there for 12 months.
Once I finished, I tutored in accounting and then my goal was to become a chartered accountant. I actually got a job at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Newcastle as a graduate accountant and then moved on to Lawler Partners in Maitland as a senior accountant. After a while then I decided to start my own practice.
So, for 18 years I have had my own practice and now I am in a really fortunate position to be coaching and mentoring other small accounting practice owners so that they have better practices and better lives.
- What are the key skillsets leaders need?
There’s quite a few – the three that come to mind are about being positive, being empathetic and being passionate.
Being positive is more about seeing the good in every situation and perhaps learning from that situation and maybe changing something that you do. Things like changing legislation might be seem as a negative, but we can actually see some positives in that and what they can do for our businesses. Yes, I take the positive out of everything; I think that’s probably come being older and wiser.
Being empathetic is really important; trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and in their situation. Being a really good listener and understanding what’s actually going on for that person in that situation is important. An effective leader can offer solutions, strategies and options in a way that’s going to achieve the optimum result. I think that’s very important. An example is putting yourself in that person’s shoes or thinking about if that was your child or your friend in that situation, how would you want them to be treated.
Thirdly is being passionate. When you’re passionate and you love what you do, as a leader that comes across so much in your team culture, how you deliver your services and it’s really quite infectious. So, if you love what you’re doing, you’re passionate. It’s so much easier to have a successful business and get buy-ins from the clients or the employees.
- What motivates and drives you?
Two main things that motivate and drive me are happiness and prosperity, and I don’t just mean prosperity about the finance and the dollars. It’s about being rich in all areas of your life and it is something that I am passionate about. I like helping others achieve happiness and prosperity – whether that’s my family and friends, whether that’s clients or colleagues or even if it is strangers who I might not have come across but who might read my blog or see me present at events. I hope I can inspire them to have businesses and lives that are happy and prosperous.
- What is one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
This is an easy one for me to answer now; it would not have been easy a couple of years ago. One of the things I do regularly is look after my own finances, accounting and bookkeeping. So, it’s probably like the plumber with the leaking tap – I was getting my tax returns completed at the very last minute which caused me undue stress and sleepless nights and also stress from my family, as I was trying to get things done in the last minute.
These days I scan my receipts throughout the week and then on the weekend I reconcile all my accounts and produce my profit and loss statements to see where I’m going. I think this is a really important thing for business owners, even if they’ve delegated the tasks for bookkeeping and accounting. I think it’s a great idea to put this in your diary on a weekly or monthly basis, have a look at the figures and go through the numbers so that you can make the business decisions and let the accountant use the numbers after you’ve used them.
That would be a bit of a tip for all businesses and especially accounting practice owners who might leave things to the last minute.
- Which local businessperson do you find inspiring?
Well I’m not going to select just one person, I’m going to select a group of people and they are all small business people. I think they are really inspiring and quite often, they don’t actually know that they’re inspiring others. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many small businesses over the past 20 years, helping them set up their businesses and going through the good times and the bad with them. They are really resilient people, they work incredibly hard and yeah, I think I’d like to do a shout out to those business people.