What an accountant can do for a new business that has hardly any budget
Where do you find an accountant who gets online retail? On social media, of course. See how it worked out for The Sheet Society.
Hayley Worley left her fashion-industry job to build The Sheet Society and has loved every minute.
Who are The Sheet Society?
When The Sheet Society was founded in August 2016, the aim was to bring beautiful bedding to homes around Australia.
“Sleeping is such an important part of your day,” says co-founder Hayley Worley. “You spend a third of your life in bed. When you get there at the end of the day, you want to love the look and feel of it.”
With a strong background in clothing production and design from her days at online fashion shop, Tiger Mist, Hayley wanted to create a product along the same lines – but out of the rag trade industry.
“We did some research around what sort of products work. With smaller apartment living your bedsheets really say a lot about your room,” says Hayley.
Soon after starting the business, Hayley decided to go full time. She quit her day job just three months after launching The Sheet Society, and says that was a game changer.
“At the time, it was a huge decision and I thought I was so irresponsible, but in hindsight it was the best decision I made.”
The Sheet Society is Hayley’s first business venture, but her experience of setting up a brand and a production team at Tiger Mist gave her the confidence to go out on her own.
“When I worked there, I had a good relationship with the financial controller, in terms of managing payments for offshore suppliers and paying deposits,” says Hayley. “But I didn’t have experience of the in-depth coding, tax rules and reconciling that we have to deal with now.”
How The Sheet Society found their accountant
Social media has been the secret of success for this Melbourne-based business. It’s how they target their millennial audience with playful, enticing posts. It’s also how they met their accountant.
When Hayley and her brother Todd started The Sheet Society they did everything themselves, including setting up the accounting software.
But in the back of her mind, Hayley was mulling over how to manage the financial side of the business.
“I met the founder of Click Frenzy and asked what his one piece of advice would be for someone starting out,” says Hayley. “He told me to get a good accountant and he recommended a company called BlueRock.”
About six months later, Hayley posted a blog on LinkedIn about starting her own business. A friend of a friend responded with advice. That person was Ricky Jessop, an accountant at BlueRock.
“It was such a coincidence. He told us he knew how expensive it was to get financial advice at the early stage of our business and offered to set up a few meetings free of charge,” says Hayley. “We were so lucky to be connected with him on LinkedIn.”
"Accounting is the thing you know is super important but you always push to the bottom of the pile. Having Ricky’s support in the back-end is really reassuring. We can get on with what we do best, knowing it’s all taken care of.”
– Hayley Worley, The Sheet Society
The benefits of a good small business accountant
It was really important to Hayley and Todd that their accountant had a strong understanding of ecommerce. BlueRock was the perfect fit, combining tech know-how with a genuine helpfulness, in order to:
streamline the online business
Because Ricky had his own online business on the side, he knew what Hayley needed to run an online shop.
get the brand humming
Ricky offered advice on getting The Sheet Society registered as a company and getting the brand trademarked.
keep fees in check
Understanding how tight cash flow is in the early stages of a startup, Ricky taught Hayley a lot of DIY tricks to keep her accounting bill down.
“They teach us how to do things, rather than doing it for us,” says Hayley. “Ricky has been really helpful with lots of things we didn’t know about. Accounting is the thing you know is super important but you always push to the bottom of the pile. Having Ricky’s support in the back-end is really reassuring. We can get on with what we do best, knowing it’s all taken care of.”
What the future holds
The Sheet Society's first six months were really about learning how to set up their accounts, reconciling, and learning how to code. But now the discussions are turning to strategy and working out how best to optimise the brand.
For Hayley this means building a successful marketing strategy – and social media is key to that.
By clearly identifying millennials as their target market, Hayley has managed to craft a social media strategy that appeals directly to them.
Their Instagram feed is full of half-dressed, tousle-haired models, and puppies. And with over 7,000 followers, they seem to have hit the mark.
“We wanted to make the whole experience of buying bedding better. We use what millennials want to see.” says Hayley. “It’s such a simple and easy way to get traffic to the site.”
Guests dive bomb a bed at a Sheet Society party. The brand has a fun personality that clicks with younger consumers.
Tips for finding an accounting firm in Melbourne
Hayley recommends shopping around for an accountant. “Your accountant is going to have such an insight into your business. You want to feel confident that they have an understanding of where you want to take it and what you want to do with it.”
And, for online businesses at least, she thinks social media is a great place to find an accountant.
“An accountant using LinkedIn probably has a bit more of an understanding of the online world” she says.
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