Raising venture capital and becoming an international brand doesn’t leave much time in a working week for day-to-day accounting. But as small business Love Me Beauty has found, there is an alternative approach to financial management – one that has given the increasingly popular online beauty club the time it needs to flourish.
About the Business
Founded in April 2013, the members beauty club, Love Me Beauty, was established with a view to connecting consumers with luxury and emerging beauty brands and allowing them to indulge in an online personal shopping experience.
In return for a monthly fee, members receive high-end products, personal recommendations and up-to-the-minute beauty market insight based on their individual profile, which is gleaned through a questionnaire completed when they join the club.
Love Me Beauty has developed rapidly since its launch, with the business growing 550% alone between the establishment of its beta website in November 2014 and its new, fully operational website in September 2015.
Overseeing this growth while simultaneously managing several rounds of venture capitalist (VC) fundraising and nurturing an ambitious goal to internationalise the brand in 2016 has, understandably, consumed much of CEO Oliver Gauci’s time.
“To begin with, I was doing everything myself: the customer service, the finance, the brand acquisition. It even got to the point where I was picking and packing boxes,” he explains. “As we grew, I outsourced that work to a fulfilment house. But by then, we were getting a lot of attention from VCs, and I needed to spend time fundraising, developing the website and getting us ready to go international.
“Because I had so much going on, I didn’t have time to do the management accounts,” he adds. “I needed [a third party] to relieve that stress and give me my time back so I could concentrate on growing the business.”
Having previously used another accountancy firm, it was a recommendation from his new backers that prompted Oliver to talk to KPMG’s Small Business Accounting (SBA) team.
“I’d had a problem with some buy-back shares, which had been managed by my former accountants. So when I got my VCs on board, they suggested I start working with a world-class company,” he says. “This prompted me to follow up a recommendation and get introduced to KPMG.”
Following what Oliver describes as a “seamless” transition from his previous accountant to KPMG’s SBA team in autumn 2014, he is now in a better position to focus on core business. To use his own words, the advantages are clear:
Investor confidence through brand reputation: “The investors trust our numbers a lot more. If we were to do another investment round, we can say it’s KPMG doing our books. That puts us in a strong position. It adds credibility to the business.”
Personal, professional support: “I like the fact I have my own dedicated accountant, and how quickly they have picked up our model. My accountant is friendly but professional… If I were to rate them, I’d give them five out of five. They understand things, pick up on my queries and get back to me quickly – like a full-time employee.”
Access to additional expertise: “If my accountant doesn’t know the answer to a specific question, they will find someone who does. That’s the great thing about working with a big company like KPMG; if your main contact doesn’t have the answer, they have access to someone who will. When I recently asked my accountant a question about research and development tax credits, they found someone who could give me the answer, and I’m sure I’ll see the benefits shortly in the form of a rebate.”
Real-time accounting: “It’s on the go; that’s the most important thing for me. Being cloud-based, I’ve got an app and can have a quick look at our numbers as and when I need to… I also like the fact that if I’m out with a client having a drink, I can take a photo of the receipt, upload it to Receipt Bank and happy days: I don’t have to store receipts in my back pocket.”
For Oliver, a reduction in day-to-day financial administration means that he can continue growing his business – both in the UK and overseas.
“For the foreseeable future, our focus is on going international – that and becoming leaders in e-commerce discovery,” he says. “Having KPMG on board has given me more time to do that… It’s relieved a bit of the stress.”
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