You can do it! How to start your business in the Netherlands

Do you have talent? Do you believe in the power of your own ideas? The Netherlands is definitely one of the best places to establish, grow, and develop a new business.

The land of tulips and windmills has always been a leading country in the business sector. This has led to particularly favorable conditions for startuppers. The competitive fiscal climate and the open-minded international environment located right in the heart of Europe are just two of many advantages.

In addition, the government has allocated several enterprises and facilities to support young entrepreneurs. These are part of the Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan program launched by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK), which seeks to promote entrepreneurship and economic innovation.

However hyped you feel about starting your own business, we know that it is not always easy to make heads or tails of an unfiltered sea of information while you’re fully immersed in it. Sometimes it leads to confusion, which in turn, can lead to discouragement. So, in order to provide some traction on the road to successful entrepreneurship, here are some guidelines to get you started.

Is my idea reliable?

Every day, various passionate entrepreneurs have a new idea and yet most of these ideas will not develop into reliable businesses. Instead of discouraging you, however, this should make you aware of the fact that a winning idea is an idea that has been honed and perfected over time.

So, how will you know if your idea is valid? And, above all, how can you improve it? Well, the first thing that you have to do is to let year idea face the real world.

Do not isolate yourself and do not be shy. You have to realize that being motivated and focused is indeed fundamental, but networking is the true oxygen of any startup. If you are a Dutch resident or an expat already stationed in the Netherlands, there are several spaces and events where you can make (new) connections to expand and solidify your network. The Venture Café in Rotterdam, the Amsterdam Capital Week, the Launch Cafe in Groningen, and PLNT in Leiden are just some examples.

How can I find the initial budget?

If networking is the oxygen of a business, money is the fuel that makes it move. Of course, being an entrepreneur means to be brave enough to take some risks, so if you have enough savings, the best advice is to bootstrap your company. However, since most people don’t have enough funds of their own, here are some options that can help you getting your initial startup funding.

The Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan promotes and encourages early-stage finance for startups. In this, the Netherlands offers a unique environment that eases the first delicate steps of a business. So, if you want to start a crowdfunding, find an Angel, or apply for subsidized loans for young entrepreneurs, the Dutch economy offers you the fertile soil that you need. Furthermore, if you are an EU citizen, it is possible to get funds from Eurostars projects or to apply for Horizon funds.

But actually, I don't live in the Netherlands (yet) …

If you are living in another country and you want to start your business in the Netherlands (or move it over here), there are still some good opportunities for you. The Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan also includes enterprises that are focused on attracting foreign startups, such as the StartupDelta Initiative.

Keep in mind that if you are a non-EU citizen, you have to apply for a Startup Visa. In order to get this, you first have to find and sign a contract with a facilitator – a business mentor who will can help you get established. Subsequently, he/she will not just make you eligible for the visa, but also provide you with the feedback that is essential to make your product or service tangible and catchy.