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Patricia I. Santa Cruz Montero is founder of PSM Consultancy, founded in 2014. Patricia is one of the best participants during StartupLeap spring edition and has 10 years of work experience in taxes, accounting, and finances in The Netherlands. Originally from Peru and a graduate of Den Haag University in The Netherlands with an MBA degree in Economics.

PSM Consultancy provides income tax and VAT declaration services mainly in Spanish, to people and companies in the Netherlands. They are located in the province of Utrecht and currently they have 291 clients. The employees of the company are 3 highly qualified professionals specialised in tax, accounting and audit who speak Spanish, English and Dutch. They are the only tax consultancy that has an online platform in Spanish, English and Dutch. The clients can register their invoices if they have a company, review their information, reports, and check their tax declarations. The main services they provide are income tax declaration, VAT tax declaration., Request for allowances, Advice for audits, Interpretation of Belastingdienst letters.

 

Why did you decide to become a founder?

When I finished the MBA (Master in Business Administration) at The Hague University in The Netherlands, I had the idea of starting a company that would not only generate economic income, but also could help foreigners who spoke my same language ( Spanish) and that were living in The Netherlands. This is how, after an investigation, I concluded that the Spanish-speaking residents of this country had problems in their tax returns, mainly because of the difficulties of the Dutch language and the complexity of the tax terms; in which I am perfectly familiar because of the work experience and studies in this topic. As part of my research, I also concluded that in the Netherlands there are approximately 100,000 Spanish-speaking residents, which are residents in The Netherlands. This target group are required to file their tax returns each year. The fact of having identified and focused on this market was in order to help them to understand the tax returns in their own language.

How did you find the problem and the solution?

During the time living in the Netherlands, I have seen that many Spanish speakers living in this country find it very difficult to understand the Dutch tax. First, because the Dutch language is difficult for them and second because of the complexity of the tax regulations. Even if the customers have tax advisers who speak English and Dutch, they find it very difficult to understand their own tax returns.
Part of my work experience in the Netherlands has been focused on tax return, which led me to think that creating a tax consultancy could help this target group and help me to generate income for my company. Our company provides VAT declaration and income tax declaration services, for companies and people who mainly speak Spanish and live in the Netherlands; but we also offer our services in English and Dutch.
The services that we offer, besides they are in Spanish, they are in a digital online platform that was designed specially for PSM Consultancy and it was configured in Spanish, English and Dutch. The platform allows the information to be shared securely, quickly and clearly between the client and PSM Consultancy. All the tax consultants of PSM Consultancy speaks Spanish.

Do you have a co-founder?

I still have not found a co-founder, but I would like to find one in the future.

What surprised you the most about being a startup founder?

What surprised me most is that I always need have a lot of initiative, perseverance and I must take risks during the time that I am managing and growing the startup. Creating a startup brings many challenges that are not learned in the University or in working life as a dependent worker. This whole process requires a lot of patience, because it makes you face new experiences every day. Besides being a professional specialised in tax topics, where I apply my knowledge and work experience, I must also know how to manage the sales, marketing, develop new products, recruit staff and manage the finances in the company.

What’s the coolest thing about being a founder?

The fact of creating a startup, forces you to use all your knowledge, experience and strength to achieve an ideal, which in general is not easy to reach it and it will require a lot of initiative, perseverance and to take a lot of risks; But all of this effort is rewarded when you feel that you are achieving your goals. Keep in mind that the founders create a product or a service from a simple idea, which can grow little by little.

What’s the worst thing about being a founder?

Creating a startup brings many uncertainties, because many times people say that that only 10% of startups succeed, which is pretty negative.

If you can go back in time, what would you do differently?

PSM Consultancy is a young startup, that was created a few years ago and it is in a growing stage. The company grew steadily since it was created.That is why I think that it would be difficult to imagine I could have done something differently that could have changed or helped on improving the company more than the way it is now.

How did you approach your first customers?

For some years I was giving free Dutch tax advice to Peruvian immigrants residing in the Netherlands by the Peruvian Consulate in Amsterdam. Thus, after setting up my company PSM Consultancy, I began to offer the tax declaration services to people who were giving free advice. That was the reason why my first client was one of the small businessmen that I had previously advised and my  first customers were also from that group. Subsequently, I expanded my client portfolio to other groups of Spanish-speaking immigrants through social media.

What’s your advice on approaching investors?

So far I have not seen the need to summon an investor, because I consider that my company is in a stage of sustained development since its creation. However, in the near future I plan to do so, as the potential market for my target audience is 100,000 Spanish-speaking residents in the Netherlands, which represents something very attractive for any investor, considering that PSM Consultancy is the only company that provides this service to this sector of the population by a platform in Spanish, offering services between € 100 to € 350 per customer. If PSM Consultancy could reach 1% or 2% of the potential market (1000 to 2000 clients, with an average service cost of 225 EUR), this company becomes attractive for a new investor, but to reach that figure, a greater investment in the development of a more advanced computer system, and the implementation of a broader marketing plan.

What advice would you give to an early stage entrepreneur?

The main concern of an entrepreneur at the start of his venture is the uncertainty of whether his idea can materialise, even more so if this is his first experience. In this sense, it is necessary that you get adequate advice to do a market study that could guarantee in some way that your product or service will be welcomed by the target market. You have to keep in mind that, at the beginning, selling your product or service will be difficult, so it will be necessary to have a lot of patience, perseverance and never give up, looking for new solution alternatives when things do not go according to expectations.

How do you see your idea in 10 years?

In the next decade, PSM Consultancy must have implemented a new and fully automated computer system that makes it easy for their clients to file their tax returns online quickly and safely in Spanish. In addition, we must be offering new services such as accounting and financial advice for small and medium-sized companies. This same tax declaration system must be implemented in other countries in the European Union such as Germany, Italy, etc. aimed at the same target group, where many hundreds of thousands of Spanish-speaking immigrants are resident.
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