Having a brilliant idea is not enough to start a company. Starting up a company requires some thorough thinking and is not suited to everyone.

Advice on how to start your business

Starting up a business in the Netherlands is certainly possible for internationals, although a great deal of organisation and pre-planning is recommended to ensure the best possible chance of success.

If in doubt, seek professional advice and to try to remain objective in dealings, especially during the planning stages. It is possible to work as a freelancer or set up a business in various forms, for example, as a sole trader (eenmanszaak), a limited company (besloten vennootschap, BV), a general partnership (vennootschap onder firma, VOF) or an ordinary partnership (maatschap).

There are various advantages and disadvantages of these business types. On our page on company structures we briefly outline some of their implications. The information provided here on starting your own business is based on information from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Visit their website for more information.

Necessary credentials
For certain types of businesses (such as a restaurant, grocery store, financial consultancy or preschool care provider), you will need additional qualifications and credentials before you are allowed to open for business. The Dutch authorities are very strict, so do not assume that you will get the necessary papers after you have started the business and you already have clients – your business may be closed down and you may be fined if things are not in order.

For more information, visit the website of the Chamber of Commerce.

Pitfalls of running your own business

It sounds impressive to say that you have your own business, but remember, every coin has a flip side too! Running your own company means you are the one that has to come up with the ideas, see projects through and ensure your clients are happy with the results.

Getting customers is one part of the job, keeping them can be much more of an issue. If the weather is great and all your friends take a day off to go out and about, the chances are that you will have to skip this outing because being your own boss does not necessarily mean you can decide when to work. If a project needs finishing, you are the one that needs to do it – you cannot hide behind your colleagues. Therefore you need determination, perseverance, flexibility, creativity and lots of energy.

Retirement pension and medical insurance

Apart from the required skills, other aspects that need attention are your pension provision and insurance. Every person working in the Netherlands needs health insurance, but apart from that, entrepreneurs do not have access to regular unemployment benefit (WW), sickness benefits (Ziektewet, WIA), so they need to look at options to cover for this. They also need to provide a supplementary pension for themselves. This is a major difference from being an employee – take this into account when starting your own company and make sure you provide for this adequately.

Do not leave it until it is too late
When you are young, retirement may seem light years away, but waiting too long to plan for it may only make it more expensive to build up a good pension. While the question of a pension is open for discussion, accident and sickness insurance is something you should arrange immediately.

Source: Expertise in Labour Mobility

Webinar Starting a Business in the Netherlands

Watch the webinar Starting a Business in the Netherlands by the IND, Dutch Tax and Customs administration, IN Amsterdam, Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Startup Delta. The original broadcast of this webinar took place on 29 March 2018. 

The subjects that are discussed: 

You can watch each ca 15 minute part separately, or watch the entire webinar.  Click the screen to watch the entire video, or scroll for the parts.