How one accountant set her entrepreneurial spirit on fire
Accountant & Bookkeeper Stories
5 min read
Can you inherit entrepreneurialism? Read how Janine Gartner’s entrepreneurial spirit paved the way for a career in accounting at her own firm.
Janine Gartner, owner of Tax Agent 99
As a young girl, Janine Gartner didn’t thrive in a school environment. Learning with dyslexia was difficult, and she often felt left behind. It wasn’t until she found a teacher she connected with, that Janine discovered her love for numbers. They just made sense.
After finishing school, Janine didn’t know how a passion for numbers would translate into a career. But when she saw an ad for a local junior accounting position, she knew it was perfect for her.
Catching the accounting bug
Even without the right accounting experience, Janine excelled at the position. “They ended up giving me more and more work. I worked with the accountant on site and he always used to give me jobs because I was so good at it,” she recalls. By the time Janine left the role two-and-a-half years later, she had caught the accounting bug.
Janine has had a long and successful career in accounting, trying her hand at several roles, getting hands-on training from chartered accountants along the way. Because she grew up watching both of her parents run successful businesses, starting her own accounting firm Tax Agent 99 was a natural step.
The entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family
Her mother ran a hairdressing salon for 12 years and her father owned various companies throughout Janine’s childhood. Her father’s rubbish business is the most memorable for Janine.
“I’m so like my father it’s not funny. He’s definitely an entrepreneur as well. He never went to university, but has owned very successful businesses and has even been the mayor of Otorohanga here in New Zealand.”
Owner of Tax Agent 99
The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Mobile bookkeeping and accounting
Before Tax Agent 99
Various office manager and accounting roles
Picnics with family, fishing, and camping
Hitting the ground running with hands-on learning
Janine’s accounting education has been all hands on. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I was trained by a chartered accountant for six-and-a-half years. Isn’t that better than sitting in a polytechnic or university? I basically had to hit the ground running,” Janine reflects.
And it wasn’t just accounting Janine picked up. “I was taking financial statements to draft stage and the accountant was teaching me how to do income tax returns and company tax returns,” says Janine. Over the course of six-and-a-half years, Janine helped grow the client list from 20 to 300. “We were bursting at the seams even without advertising. We just worked out of his house.”
“I’m so like my father it’s not funny. He’s definitely an entrepreneur as well. He never went to university, but has owned very successful businesses."
Networking like a pro leads to explosive growth
When Janine eventually started her business Tax Agent 99, it was supposed to be a part-time gig. She missed her family and wanted to spend more time with her son. “I just wanted the whole work-life balance. I wanted to be able to be at home with my son if he needed me,” she recalls. But part-time quickly turned into full-time. “It just exploded on me. So big so fast!”
The growth of the company was overwhelming at times. Most of the new clients she works with come organically from referrals. “I’m big on relationships. I’m a pretty big networker, and part of Venus Network – a women’s networking group. I don’t do much advertising apart from networking. I only run a small ad in a local magazine,” she says.
Janine (right), her mother, and her sisters
Overworked, exhausted and diagnosed with adrenal fatigue
While the business was thriving, it was a lot to handle for the blossoming entrepreneur. She was so overworked, that her health began to suffer.
When a doctor diagnosed Janine with adrenal fatigue, she knew something had to change. She realized that if she wanted to keep serving her clients, she needed to take care of herself first. “At the end of the day, your clients are renting you for the day. If you’re not at 100%, you can’t give them 110%, so they’re not getting the best use of their money.” she says.
Getting back some balance
It didn’t make sense for Janine to keep doing everything for the business. “Like we tell our clients, you go out and be the best at what you’re doing, and we’ll take care of your bookkeeping. So we had to follow a bit of our own advice. We’ll stick to the bookkeeping and the accounting and we should leave other people to do what they're really good at doing. I can’t do everything,” she says.
And now that Janine has found harmony between work and life, she’s enjoying herself a lot more. “I love camping and fishing. My family and I are also big on picnics. We’re always having a good time,” she says.
Janine and her husband on their wedding day
Looking to the future
Now that Janine has learned to slow down, she’s even taking the time to go trout fishing with her son. And while some balance has been restored in her life, she’s not letting anything dull her ambition – the work she does for her clients means everything to her. She’s putting systems in place to franchise her business, so the business can run without her.
“Now I’m making sure that work isn’t taking over my whole life. And I'm putting that whole work-life balance into play. I used to work all weekend, until 11pm. But now it’s definitely about putting more quality time into family and friends and having more fun in my life.”