So, who are you?
My name is Gareth Salomon and my business is PF Director.
Can you tell me exactly what PF Director does and what motivated you to create the business?
I’m a chartered accountant by trade. I was getting fed up of providing a compliance-only service to my clients. So I looked for packages that were out there to help me systemise that advisory approach, found there was nothing there so thought, why not have a go myself?
I started developing software for my own personal use within the accountancy firm to improve the relationship I had with clients, but now it’s obviously grown into something much bigger. We’re looking to expand to accountants within the UK first and eventually around the world.
Basically world domination.
The package allows the accountant to sit down with clients periodically and map their financial goals as well as tying in the wellbeing of the people. So it is more than just a business analysis package we’re looking at the person behind the business and their situation.
The accountant is able to use their own knowledge but we also have two built-in knowledge bases. The Personal Wealth Hub & Tax Planning Hub, which can be drawn upon by the accountant to identify what will be best for their client.
We take it one step further using “The Smart Advisor”which uses the collected data of individuals and looks at which advice items within the knowledge bases are most relevant for the client.This takes a lot of the exploratory work out of the clients’ hands and pinpoints the information for them.
In your journey so far, do you have any notable achievements or milestones that you are most proud of?
I’ve implemented it with a few of my clients and I’ve seen that I have actually been able to improve their lives. I really liked the pitch event which was held at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly -it was a celebration of Accelerator Wales, which I was a part of at The Wrexham Enterprise Hub.
What do you wish you had known at the start before going self employed?
This is my second trip into going self employed so I already knew some things but this time around it was the software development which I was new to. So I can say that with an app and software, definitely don’t start anything before you’ve drawn it down on paper and taken it out to your target audience to get feedback before you spend time and money on it.
There’s also the unconditional praise from your family: it’s great that your mum loves what you’re doing, don’t ignore it, but also don’t use it as a basis of decision making.
Is there anything specific you do in order to stay ahead of the competition and stay innovative?
There’s a lot of compliance software out there but it doesn’t really add any value to the individual with their business growth and planning. I have the benefit of having my own practice which I can use as a safe space to test things out in and stay ahead of the curve.
What lessons have you learned so far on your startup journey?
One thing I didn’t expect to hear but was really helpful was on the subject of funding. People think that when you start up you have to get funding, without a thought about why they need to get funding.
A lot of people think they’re doing well if they have funding, but obviously it isn’t the only way to do this. Personally, I’ve self funded most of the project myself so far.
How do you find balance and avoid the business burn out?
It is tough. I have a wife and four kids at home, a full-time accountancy firm, as well as this new product. So something has to give. In my case it meant learning how to delegate work in the firm, which I wouldn’t have done before learning those lessons on the accelerator programme.
Working from the Wrexham Enterprise Hub is also great because there are a lot of individuals helping me with both PF Director and the accountancy firm. Looking for that help isn’t something that comes naturally to me so it’s made a huge difference.
What’s next for your business?
We’re starting beta testing in the next month with about 10 different business owners as well as accountants to receive early doors feedback, which will help me refine the product.