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Top Tips on Starting Up A Business in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is becoming an increasingly popular destination for business people and aspiring entrepreneurs. This is especially so since Brexit. Whether you have an existing business you would like to establish in the Netherlands to provide assured access to the EU market, you are looking to invest in an existing business, or you are planning a new start-up, there are options available to you.

If you need a reason to make the move to the Netherlands, consider this; the Netherlands is now ranked fourth in the Global Competitiveness Report, based on its institutions, infrastructure, stable macroeconomic framework, good health, and primary education, higher education and training, efficient goods markets, efficient labour markets, financial markets, ability to harness existing technology, market size—both domestic and international, production of new and different goods using the most sophisticated production processes, and innovation. It even beats Switzerland and Japan. Here are our top tips for anyone thinking of setting up in business in the Netherlands.

Tip One – Before You Do Anything, Go On A Research Visit To The Netherlands

This may seem like an obvious point, but yet many people make the decision to move to another country without ever visiting first. The aim of a research visit is to narrow down your preferred area, target market, business strategy, and any grants and business help available to you. The Netherlands has a wide range of business incubators and start-up accelerator programmes , tax incentives, subsidies, and funding assistance.

If you are interested in setting up, relocating, or investing in a tech-focused business, there are many resources available. One of the biggest is Techleap.nl, a non-profit publicly funded organization that work with individuals and their tech companies to help them become established and grow by providing advice on gaining access to the domestic and EU market, capital, and tech talent. They will also advise you if your start-up business idea is innovative and will have genuine potential to succeed in the Netherlands.

There are many sector-specific networking groups you can tap in to within in the country. Networking groups provide an invaluable opportunity to understand your market, the challenges being faced by other businesses, and to meet like-minded individuals on a similar journey to you.

Business.nl also provides a number of business start-up checklists which you can follow.

Building up a strong portfolio of contacts and resources will help you in the next stages of your move.

Tip Two – Understand Your Immigration Eligibility

If you are from outside of the EU/EEA, it will be especially important to understand the immigration routes available to you, and whether you will be eligible. For example, if you are an entrepreneur with a genuinely innovative idea, you will typically apply for (Startup Visa) and enter the country on a temporary (one year) residence permit for foreign start-ups. To use this route, you will need to:

  • work with an approved and experienced mentor (facilitator) based in the Netherlands
  • offer a product or service that is innovative
  • show you have a step-by-step plan to develop your idea into a business
  • show you have adequate financial resources to reside and live in the Netherlands for one year.

You will then have twelve months to launch your new business venture. Once the year is completed, you will then be able to apply for a permit to work on a self-employed basis.

Tip Three – Visit The Chamber Of Commerce Website

We highly recommend you visit the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel – also referred to as KVK website, which explains all you need to know about setting up in business in the Netherlands, including:

  • Choose the right legal structure for your company.
  • How to check your company name
  • Which permits apply to your business
  • Financing options
  • Business administration.
  • How to find office space

Tip Four – Create A Clear And Compelling Business Plan

Now you have done your research and you understand the potential for setting up a business in the Netherlands, it is important to create a clear and compelling business plan. This will form the basis of your immigration application, your company registration, funding applications, and most importantly, it will provide a blueprint which you can gradually refine and improve. As a minimum, your business plan should explain you business mission statement, the intended market, market research, what makes your product or service innovative, profit and loss sheets, estimates of running costs, and annual projections.

While it may be tempting to keep your business plan to yourself, it is best to share it with people whose opinion you value. Ask them what they think. This provides an excellent opportunity to further improve your proposition and strategy. After all, if there is a problem with your plans, it is best to know about them now, rather than later.

Once you have your business plan documented, and the location, your immigration and tax position, and funding are clarified, you can register your new business name with the KVK. To do this, you will need to make an appointment (the appointment is made online) to visit a KVK office in person.

Final words

If you have a compelling business idea, a strong plan for starting your business, and helpful contacts who can assist you throughout your journey, you have every chance of successfully setting up in business in the Netherlands. As a nation, they are extremely welcoming to new immigrants and businesses, and as such, you can expect to receive a great deal of support and guidance. If you are entering the country as an entrepreneur, you only have a year to prove your business is viable, hence time is of the essence – use it wisely. If at any point you find yourself stuck with any aspect of your immigration, tax, business administration, premises lease, or any other business matter, ask for help as soon as possible. We wish you the very best of luck with setting up your new business in the Netherlands. For legal assistance on your immigration matter, feel free to speak to one of our experienced immigration solicitors.

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Cheyam Shaked

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