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The beauty of business: You create your own career

Posted 4 weeks ago in Advisors by Erin Smith
Posted by Erin Smith

Sophie Andrews is the award-winning director and owner of the Accounts Studio, a bookkeeping firm that works to build profit for creative thinkers. We spoke to Sophie about the highs and lows of her business journey as part of our beautiful business campaign.

Growing up in the United Kingdom, I used my languages and business degree to build a career in the jewellery and gift industry. But when I moved to Australia 25 years ago, I found my European languages weren’t required in Australia. I’d always been good at maths, so I came up with a new way to stay in the same industry – and moved into finance.  

When the jewellery industry took a dive in the mid 90s, I transitioned to finance for fashion brands. Then my daughter was born 10 weeks premature and I needed to reduce my hours, which meant another job change. I worked with some surfwear brands but one by one they moved their operations to other states and I didn’t want to uproot my family to follow.

Through all this upheaval, I realised that you can work hard to make yourself invaluable, but as long as you’re working for someone else, there’s always an element of your career that’s out of your hands. I wanted more control over my working environment and I wanted to create stability for myself. So I set up my own business doing something I knew: bookkeeping.

Taking control into my own hands

The Accounts Studio was a means to an end at first, but it took off quickly and I brought someone on to help me part-time. Some years later, with demand still strong, I realised I was getting burned out. So I made the conscious decision to go niche and position the business to work largely with designers and creatives doing their bookkeeping. The change revitalised me and took me back to the creative space where I’d started my career. I relished those creative client relationships, and my clients found someone in the finance world who understood them.

It’s incredible to think the Accounts Studio has now been running for 13 years. We deal with about 200 clients a year and perhaps 85% of our work still comes from professional service companies in creative realms such as design, tech startups, PR and digital. We work with other industries where we want to, too. Just the other day, we worked on a three-month project with a very large engineering firm to transition onto Xero and set up all their staff training and systems.

The beauty of business

I love business and I find talking to business owners fascinating, particularly when it comes to strategy. Educating people about the impact of cash flow is a huge part of the puzzle. I still come across a lot of business owners who don’t understand the difference between the profit they’re making and the money they see in the bank.

For other businesses, their knowledge gap might be that they choose to focus their energy on growing their client base – the part that they find really exciting – without fully understanding their client profitability. More clients doesn’t always equal a more profitable business.

Changing these perceptions, getting people excited about their own numbers, and making sure small business owners get the right advice can make all the difference to someone’s life and livelihood. That’s why I do what I do, and it brings a great deal of satisfaction.

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