Date posted: 08/04/2024 8 min read

In the Limelight: Natalie Lennon CA

Known as the queen of TikTok in accounting circles, Natalie Lennon CA has embraced the short-video platform to help people understand their taxes and how accountants can help them.

Quick take

  • Natalie Lennon CA started her practice, Two Sides, in 2017 and began posting videos on TikTok during COVID-19 lockdowns to help SMEs understand JobKeeper payments.
  • Lennon embraces technology in her firm and has a fixed-fee model to add more value for SME clients.
  • Lennon’s TikTok videos have raised her profile, and have led to speaking engagements and TV appearances.
By Susan Muldowney
Photography by Graham Jepson

In the world of tax and accounting, Natalie Lennon CA is a social media sensation. Founder and director of Australian accounting practice Two Sides, Lennon’s posts on short-form video-hosting platform TikTok can attract up to 500,000 views, especially during tax time. Known for her clear, irreverent communication style – and the signature pink jacket she wears online – Lennon has amassed 19,500 followers on TikTok and the number is growing.

Like many TikTok members, Lennon started using the site for fun, posting a few dance videos and some cute footage of her two pet pugs. But when COVID-19 lockdowns began impacting her SME clients, Lennon started posting short, informative videos about issues such as JobKeeper payments.

“There was so much uncertainty at that time and I wanted to get information out to as many people as I could,” says Lennon.

“I just tried to be myself and I thought, ‘Well, we’re in a pandemic and if the world is going to end, I don’t really care what people think of me – take it or leave it’. I think that resonated well with people,” adds Lennon. “The fact that I don’t take myself too seriously really helps.”

Experience counts

Accounting runs in Lennon’s family. Her mother worked as a bookkeeper and her grandmother was an accountant, but she says she “just fell into” the industry.

“I wanted to start working as soon as I finished school,” says Lennon. “I wanted to have my own money and I wanted to buy a car. I wasn’t really interested in going to uni, because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at that time.”

After completing high school, Lennon took up an office admin job at a small software company and helped with bookkeeping. She had soon saved enough money to buy that car – a Daihatsu Charade – and, after getting a taste for accounting, began studying part time.

Lennon gained experience in public practice firms, before becoming a chartered accountant in 2011. She later moved to a commercial role with a multinational firm where she became finance manager, but says the workplace culture prompted her to move back to public practice.

“It was a male-dominated environment and I often felt like the token woman at the table, so I decided to move back to an accounting firm,” she explains. “I was 28 when I made the move and, within six months, I was offered partnership.”

Lennon describes the experience as a “great stepping stone” to starting her own practice.

“I learned a lot as a partner, but the firm had been established in the ’80s and it was still stuck using old-school paper processes,” she says. “I started to feel stagnant so, after about five years, I decided to make the leap to start my own accounting firm.”

Working smarter

When Lennon started Two Sides in 2017, her goal was to build a modern firm that embraced technology and to “work smarter, not harder”.

Her practice runs entirely from the cloud. Mundane tasks, such as scheduling appointments or signing documents, are automated.

“Committing to making just one small technology change per quarter can make a huge difference in efficiency,” she says.

From the beginning, Lennon has sought to remove pain points for clients by developing affordable fixed-fee packages that include quarterly meetings to discuss their business and tax position.

“This meant that I was seen more as a partner and not simply an extra cost, and I could understand the clients’ businesses better and therefore give better value,” says Lennon.

“I find this to be a real selling point with new client enquiries and, by offering bookkeeping, I’ve also enhanced relationships even further by being more involved at a transactional level.

“Some accountants are still not embracing fixed fees,” says Lennon. “At my old firm, we had almost a full-time admin resource, and the bulk of her job was preparing bills and chasing debtors. At Two Sides we use Ignition, which takes care of this. Our practice manager works part-time four days per week and the only billing part she needs to take care of is preparing the engagements.”

Beating burnout

Lennon currently employs a team of four remote workers and has clients across the country. She says rapid business growth presented a challenge in the early years.

“When you grow quickly, there is little time to update your processes and to make sure that they are growing with you, and that you’re documenting everything correctly,” she says.

“We were doubling our client list every year for the first few years and it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of growth, but then I realised that some of our clients didn’t really value what we offered. We reduced our clients to those who appreciated our business model.”

Rapid growth also led Lennon to the brink of burnout, so she now works in the business four days a week and spends Fridays working on business goals and social media strategy.

“In the early stages of the business, I was taking calls 24/7,” she says. “Now, I still have a few clients who call my mobile from time to time and I don’t mind that, but most Fridays I let calls go through to my voicemail and arrange for someone else to call them back that day. You need to set those boundaries.”

TikTok and tax

Before Lennon began posting on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube were her platforms of choice. “The thing with platforms like YouTube is that the videos generally need to be very curated,” she says. “I would film a video, then I would edit it and upload it and it took so much time.

“TikTok content is different to the other social media platforms because it’s less curated and it feels like having a quick chat with someone, so it seems more natural.”

Lennon takes a light-hearted approach to her TikTok topics, such as tax deductions. In one of her videos, she poses the question: ‘Can you claim activewear as a tax deduction if you think about work while exercising?’ She spends the rest of her 90-second video explaining how tax deductions work.

“You need to have some sort of a hook to engage people from the start,” she explains. “I also spend quite a lot of time looking at topics that are trending on TikTok and the questions that people are asking. The more I post, the more questions I get on my video and when I answer the questions, I get a good response in terms of the number of people watching.”

Lennon describes her TikTok audience as a “mixed bag”.

“There are quite a few younger people who are trying to understand tax and, while that may not be my target client right now, in the next couple of years they might refer me to somebody else who they know has started a business.”

Another benefit is the professional network she’s gained through TikTok.

“I’ve connected with a couple of lawyers, and we refer back and forth. I’ve also connected with a business coach who has invited me to be a keynote speaker later this year at a retreat in Uluru,” says Lennon, who presented a session at the Australian Accounting Business Expo in Melbourne in March this year about where to start with TikTok.

“When some of my videos were really popular at tax time last year, I got interviewed on A Current Affair about why some people’s tax refunds were less than last financial year. This wouldn’t have happened had I not been on TikTok.” Lennon is aiming to increase her TikTok followers to 25,000 this year, which she describes as “doable”.

“It certainly doesn’t consume my thoughts,” says Lennon. “It’s not like I’m a social media influencer just trying to grow my follower base and get famous. I’m running a business and that’s my priority.”

Natalie Lennon CA

Bio in brief

Natalie Lennon CA received her Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting in 2011 and has worked in industry and in public practice in various roles, including as a partner. She started her own accounting firm, Two Sides, in 2017, and employs a team of four people.

In 2021, she was named Accountant of the Year in the Women in Finance Awards. Along with her tax and accounting social media accounts, she has a podcast called Totally Boss It, which includes tax tips and interviews with SMEs.

Outside of work, Lennon enjoys exercising most evenings at her husband’s gym. “When you’re married to a personal trainer, it’s hard to find an excuse not to exercise,” she quips.

Natalie’s advice for success on TikTok

Short-form video hosting service TikTok launched in 2016. It allows users to make short videos, which are usually based on entertainment or comedy, and distribute them within the app’s following. It passed one billion users in 2021 and is expected to surpass two billion by the end of 2024.

Here are Lennon’s tips for TikTok success:

1. Keep it short

Videos you create on TikTok can be up to 10 minutes long, but Lennon recommends keeping them as short as possible. “If I’m drafting a blog post on a topic, I’ll often draft a short video script on the same topic but the key is to keep it short and sharp.”

2. Start with a hook

Lennon suggests starting with a hook that will capture interest, such as ‘Here’s my number-one tip for starting a small business’. “People’s attention span on TikTok is really short, so don’t waste your time explaining what you do.” Lennon’s TikTok username is self-explanatory, ‘Natalie the Accountant’.

3. Be consistent

You don’t need to post a video on TikTok every day, but Lennon’s advice is to be consistent. “I try to post at least once a week. The time of day that I post is also important, so I go in and see when followers are more likely to be online, and then I post just before that time. That way, people start commenting and watching it, and then that promotes more people to watch it and comment.”

4. Be topical

Choose a timely theme for your posts. “If it’s March, for example, it might be about fringe benefits tax, or if it’s January, you might talk about cash flow. Any videos around tax time tend to be popular.

5. Find your niche

What will help your videos stand out? “For me, it was the pink jacket that I wear in videos. Using humour is also part of my niche, and I try to be relatable and use language that’s easy to understand.”

Join Natalie live on 16 May

Don’t miss Natalie Lennon CA and many more industry experts at our full-day online Accounting Conference 2024, where she will teach you how to unleash your personal brand power with TikTok. Early bird and group discounts available.

Secure your spot now