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7 Basic tips for every starting entrepreneur

Updated on 22 February 2024

There is currently a lot of movement globally, when it comes to doing business. The recent changes in the world and political and economic unrest have resulted in massive company relocations. This doesn’t just entail small businesses, as many well-known multinational corporations have also established headquarters and branch offices in Europe. The Netherlands remains one of the most popular countries to relocate to. We have seen a growing trend in this direction during the past decades, which isn’t going to change anytime soon. This is not entirely without reason, either, since the Netherlands is still one of the most economically and politically stable countries in the world. If you are serious about starting a new business or expanding your current one, then the Netherlands might actually be one of your safest bets. We get many questions from aspiring entrepreneurs regarding the steps they should take when they decide to open a business, or expand overseas. We have collected the most vital information that might benefit you, if you have such aspirations. Read on for helpful tips and tricks to start a business in the Netherlands, including information that will make the transition much easier. If you have any questions about this subject at all, please feel free to contact Intercompany Solutions with your queries.

1. How do I choose an industry to operate in?

One of the main components of success is choosing the right type of business. If you already own a successful business and simply want to expand your company internationally, you can skip this step, as it mostly applies to starting entrepreneurs. If you have plans to start a company, you should think about all the possible options. Some factors you can consider are as follows:

  • What is your main field of expertise?
  • Which type(s) of education have you successfully completed?
  • Do you have any particular fields of interest that you are drawn to?
  • Which industries excite you?
  • How many languages do you speak?
  • Are you able to import, export, and stock goods, or would you rather solely offer services?
  • What is the reason that makes you want to do business internationally?
  • What can you offer that isn’t already offered in the Netherlands?

It is very important, that you choose a business type that you are already familiar with. If you start something entirely new, you will have to spend a lot of time learning everything about the industry, whilst there will also be a great risk of making mistakes and competitors doing better than you. Even when a certain industry seems like a great possibility for success, always keep in mind that your current knowledge, expertise, and experience play a huge role in the potential success of your future company. Make sure that you know what you are doing, and choose an industry that matches your work and educational history. This way, you solidify your path to owning a stable business.

2. Picking a location for your business

Once you have decided on the type of company you want to start, you will need to figure out where you want to geographically position your company. This is also an important step for already established business owners, who are looking for ways to expand. One of the main factors that plays a large role in this choice is where your business partners and clients are situated currently. For example, if you already have a lot of Dutch clients, or if you have a Dutch supplier that you have worked with for a while, opening a branch office in the Netherlands is a logical step, since this will significantly shorten the duration of transport to your location. This can save you a lot of time and money when buying and selling goods. If you want to open a location that has easy access to modes of transportation, the Netherlands is the perfect country to settle in. The physical infrastructure in Holland is considered one of the best in the entire world, both in terms of regular roads and railways. Also note that the port of Rotterdam and the airport of Schiphol are situated less than 2 hours away from each other. This offers any logistics business plenty of fruitful opportunities. If you also want to hire personnel, you should consider buying or renting a place near a city, such as Amsterdam. It will make it much easier for you to hire experienced and highly-trained staff.

3. Finding solid business partners and other connections

A hugely important factor that will determine the potential success of your business, is the quality of your network and business partners. Setting up a business alone isn’t enough, as you will need clients and suppliers to function on a daily basis. Many entrepreneurs struggle with the question whether they should start a company all by themselves, or team up with others. For example, you can start a franchise business if you have no experience at all. Often successful brands offer the possibility of setting up a new affiliate or branch office, which means that you will be provided with most necessities during the start. You won’t have to fund anything, nor will you be solely responsible for staff and supplies. It might provide you with a solid foundation purely for experience, which you can use to set up your own company later on. Do keep in mind, that starting a franchise might encompass a non-competition clause in the years after. So if you have serious plans that revolve around your own unique ideas, you might benefit more from following those.

Another option is to set up a company with people who are already acquaintances or colleagues. In this scenario, you become business partners and share the profits. If you can all contribute something significant to the company, it will make your daily activities much easier since you share all the burdens. A potential pitfall (as always) is trust: do you trust the people you choose as business partners enough, to delegate certain tasks to them? Of course, you can minimize risks by setting up solid contracts between the partners, but the essential question remains if you haven’t known each other for a long period of time. Consider the benefits and risks, before you make a definite decision. If you already have extensive experience, it is worthwhile to consider starting a business by yourself. There are many helpful sources of information on the internet that you can use to run and advance your company. If the tasks at hand seem too much for one person, you can always hire personnel, or outsource some of the work to other freelancers. Finding clients has also never been easier, due to the ease with which you can find someone online. Be sure to check out any reviews about a company or individual, for example, on Trustpilot. These will tell you everything you need to know, when it comes to trusting someone with your business. Once you have accumulated the necessary people around you, you can move on to further steps to implement your business.

4. The positive effects of a business plan

One of the most important parts of establishing a business is the creation of a business plan. We literally cannot stress enough how important this step is. A business plan is generally created to be able to acquire financing for your company, but it is actually much more valuable than that. When you start making a business plan, you will be forced to look at your business ideas under a microscope. You will have to answer questions such as:

  • What is the main goal of my business?
  • What kind of education and experience do I have that matches my business aspirations?
  • Am I experienced enough to be a business owner?
  • How will I be able to carry out my daily business activities?
  • Which other companies are already doing what I want to do, and how can I compete against them, or even outshine them?
  • How will I market my company and position it?
  • How much money will I need to set up the company?
  • Do I already have money, or will I need financing?
  • Who will I closely work with?
  • Where do I see myself in one year, three years, and five years?

These and various other related questions will be answered in full in a business plan. This way, you can create a solid overview of your plans, plus you will find out whether you can actually accomplish everything you want. If there are any discrepancies in your ideas and plans, the business plan will highlight them, so you will need to find alternative solutions if something doesn’t add up. Once you have created a business plan, you can use it to send it to banks and investors, but you can also keep it for yourself and update it every year, to see if your company is doing well. It is also smart to update the plan every three years, for example, with new goals you have set for yourself. This way, you also keep your company up-to-date regarding the latest developments within your field of expertise. We will discuss this in a later paragraph in detail.

5. Keep a solid administration at all times

When you start a company in the Netherlands, it is of the utmost importance that your administration is in order. Starting a business overseas means that you won’t only have to pay taxes in your home country, but also in the country you do business in. This means, that it would be wise to inform yourself about your responsibilities in this regard before you start doing business. For example, you can easily avoid double taxation by knowing your rights and duties towards each country. If you plan to do business internationally, it is also advisable that you look at bilateral and translateral tax agreements. These contain valuable information about who is responsible for paying taxes and where. If you trade within the European Union, you benefit from the European Single Market and, thus, don’t have to pay VAT if you do business within member states. This also saves you plenty of time and money at customs. In the Netherlands, as a business owner, you are obligated to keep an administration at all times, and you also need to keep an archive of the past seven years of business. If you don’t comply with national tax laws and regulations, this can result in hefty fines and, in extreme cases, even incarceration. Most business owners outsource their yearly and quarterly tax returns since this saves them a large amount  of time and effort on a structural basis. We also strongly advise, that a trusted and experienced third party handle your administration. If you are looking for a reliable bookkeeper or accountant, feel free to contact Intercompany Solutions. We can take care of many issues for you, or redirect you to one of our partners.

6. The power of connecting with others

Once your company is established, but also in the phase before, you should try to build your professional network as well as you can. In the world of business, knowing people can be the difference between catastrophe and success. You don’t just network to potentially gain projects; you network to meet like-minded individuals, who can help you build your company on firm foundations. One of the main benefits of knowing many people, is that you almost never have to search online for certain companies, goods, or services. People can generally direct you to others they have successfully worked with in the past, limiting the risk you take when you take on new business or suppliers. Furthermore, by expanding your circle of acquaintances, you can also meet people who might have similar ideas. This can enable you to start new business opportunities, or maybe combine forces to establish an entirely new company or foundation. People are generally stronger in larger numbers, so building a solid network is a definite lifesaver. The added plus, is that you actually do often get new projects via your network, especially when people tend to like you. Mouth-to-mouth advertising never died; it is still very much alive and kicking. Once you gain the trust of the people you meet, doors will open that you never knew might exist. A massive benefit of the internet, is that you don’t have to physically attend network events anymore, to be able to meet new people. There are plenty of workshops, talks, and events online that you can join from the comfort of your own office or house.

7. How to stay up-to-date regarding the latest developments

The previously mentioned network will generally also aid you in staying up-to-date regarding important developments within your market or niche. Since digitalization, the pace of doing business has increased, and thus, it’s quite necessary to be able to stay on top of trends if you want to be taken seriously. This will obviously vary depending on the market you operate in, but due to rapidly changing laws, regulations, and digital advancements, you should consider new developments a priority. One way to do this, is to read the news, of course. But there are many other possibilities nowadays, such as online seminars and workshops, newsletters from trusted sources, and education. Even if you are fully trained in your field of expertise, it is always a good idea to invest in new knowledge to make your company future-proof. We also advise looking into the possibilities of working together with other companies, as you might come up with fusion-type solutions to solve current problems. Also, you can try to expand your knowledge to similar markets, which in turn might enable you to expand your business as well. Staying on top of developments is a must for every serious entrepreneur.

Intercompany Solutions can establish your Dutch company in just a few business days

The abovementioned tips are pretty straightforward, as they basically apply to every starting entrepreneur in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, it’s important to follow these tips if you want a smooth and easy start for your business. Of course, there are many other things you should take into account when starting a company, such as the possibility of hiring employees or freelancers, finding a suitable location and office space, and taking care of the actual business registration process in the Netherlands. Intercompany Solutions successfully registers hundreds of companies on a yearly basis, which is why we can arrange the entire process for you in just a few business days. We can also help you out with various other necessary tasks, such as opening a Dutch bank account, taking care of your yearly and quarterly tax returns, providing you with financial and legal advice, and many other services to aid you during the establishment process of your new Dutch business. If you have a specific query, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We will gladly help you in any way we can.

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