GetSmarter is a premier online education company that partners with prestigious universities and leading organisations to offer a variety of online courses and education solutions.

Business | Gareth Cotten: Businessman, maverick, accountant, manager...

Print E-mail

By the Newsletter TeamGareth Cotten

Gareth Cotten, the Course Convener for two brand new GetSmarter courses, lives an extremely busy life. When he isn’t teaching GetSmarter students in the University of Cape Town Basics of Financial Management and University of Cape Town Start and Manage a Small Business courses, he’s coaching, consulting, running businesses, keeping fit and developing his linguistic skills. Describing what he does isn’t possible in one word: Gareth says he is a “businessman, maverick, accountant, manager, consultant and coach (not to mention lover and fighter).”

Starting out
Gareth hit the ground running and started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 12, selling black bags to neighbours. From there, he went on a whirlwind journey of studies (BComm degree, Honours in Tax, part-time paralegal studies), travel and business, working as a sales executive and starting a range of companies in his spare time. After a brief stint as a finance and HR manager at a villa rental company, Gareth took a life coaching course and started a coaching consultancy, which he runs alongside his expanding limousine company.

Driving force
Gareth is an extremely lively and passionate entrepreneur. “What drives me in my work is a desire to constantly learn, improve and grow. I want to build a legacy – an empire! – that transcends what I can do as an individual. I want to be an inspiration to other aspirant financiers and entrepreneurs out there – to show them that anything is possible.” On entrepreneurship, he says that, “It’s the only true way to create real wealth for yourself, and it can give you as much freedom and balance in your life as you desire.” He’s particularly excited by finance, which he calls the “absolute leveller” in the business world. “It’s possible to tell so much about a business from just looking at its financial reports,” he explains.

Good advice
Gareth is full of useful advice for budding entrepreneurs. When it comes to running a business, “The most important lesson I’ve learnt so far is that you have to, have to, have to watch your cash and your finances. I don’t offer my clients credit – if they want a service I offer now, they must be prepared to pay for it now. It’s the principle of fair exchange, and you should never be afraid to ask to get paid.” If he had to boil down his years of experience and wisdom, he’d say, “There are thousands of reasons not to do something; but if the one reason to do it is strong enough, then just go for it! Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Free time
When he isn’t growing his business empire, Gareth enjoys keeping fit and healthy by running, going to the gym and keeping active. He also has more than a passing interest in cars, having owned 15 already. His other love is learning languages. Aside from the five that he already speaks – English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, French and Spanish – he’s looking to learn Mandarin and Arabic when he gets the chance. Gareth may seem like a bit of a super-man, but don’t give him spicy food, unless you want to see him sweating and grimacing!

Back to SmartyPants Newsletter - July 2010 Edition
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Add comment


Subscribe to our newsletter

Find us on facebook and follow us on twitter
Phone: +27 (0)21 447 7565 | Fax: +27 (0)21 447 8344 | Email:
4th Floor Fairland House, c/o Browning & Main Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town | PO Box 24058, Claremont, 7735, South Africa
Privacy policy | Terms and conditions | GetSmarter © 2012