Five tips for starting a business in The Netherlands

If you would like to start a business in The Netherlands, there is plenty of information online in Dutch, but only limited support in English.  Despite this, The Netherlands is a great place for startups.  So here is a summary of some of my experiences and a few recommended resources to get you started.

1.  Relocating from abroad

You may have already been a business owner in another country before thinking about starting up a business in The Netherlands.  In 2012, I relocated Zestee from Australia to The Netherlands and summarised my experiences into a blog post you may find useful:

7 tips for moving your small business overseas with you

2.  Kamer van Koophandel

One of the first places to go to for information – and later registration – is the Chamber of Commerce.  This is spelt in Dutch as the Kamer van Koophandel and abbreviated as the KVK.

When I registered Zestee in The Netherlands in late 2012, to start operating here from 01 January 2013, there was no charge for registration.  I believe that in 2012 though, it cost around 50 euros and it seems they have brought that fee back in 2014.  I’m registered as a ZZP (Zelfstandig Zonder Personnel), otherwise known as a sole trader in other countries.

The website, KVK.nl has an entire section in English about starting a business in The Netherlands.  A good place to start is to download the free PDF booklet, “Starting your own business as a self-employed entrepreneur”.  You can click on the image below to go directly to the download section of the KVK website.

starting your own business in the netherlands

In this book, the KVK recommends that before you register your business in The Netherlands, you need to consider the following issues carefully, then goes on to explain each in more detail:

  • a permit to start a business in the Netherlands
  • a business plan
  • legal form and trade name of your enterprise
  • taxation and necessary insurance
  • business location, commercial lease
  • a “VAR” statement from the Tax Administration, declaring you a self-employed entrepreneur

It also includes a handy list of further places to find information in english.

3.  Networking

One of the best recommendations I can give any business owner, whether you are a startup or more established is to network!  There are quite a few english-speaking networking groups in The Netherlands and plenty of online groups too.  Each has their own culture and costs, ranging from casual to focussed and free to more expensive.  Experiment a little to find one (or more) that fits your needs and personality.  Here are a few english-speaking groups you may like to look into that I personally recommend:

Of course, if you can speak Dutch, this opens up a lot more possibilities.  I’ve also found that even if you only know some basics in the Dutch language but are willing to try, most Dutchies are very supportive and patient if you attend a dutch-language networking event.  In fact, many are keen to try out their english and it can be a good starting point!

4.  BELASTINGDIENST

This is a word you’ll become really familiar with!  The belastingdienst – or tax department – is going to be in regular contact with you from the time you start your business.  Unfortunately they are not quite as keen to translate information into english as the KVK, but it’s important you make the effort to understand your responsibilities as a business owner in this area.

www.belastingdienst.nl/starters is in Dutch but has lots of useful information if you can manage some Dutch or get someone to help you translate.  There is an option to click at the top of the screen for “english site” but this is limited information.

5.  Zestee Social Media School

I have developed the Zestee Social Media School over the last 4 years, bringing together my knowledge and experience as a social media specialist to help you learn to capture the power and potential for your business.  The 13 week online course will help you create a social media strategy for your new business and start to share it with The Netherlands – and beyond!

http://socialmediaschool.zestee.com/course/social-media-business-online-course-beginners/

Special offer: Use the coupon code “website” for a 10% discount on this course

Wishing you every success on your journey as a business owner in The Netherlands.   It’s a wild ride, but a rewarding journey and I’d love to hear about your experiences in a comment below.

Renee