10 simple steps to start a business in The Netherlands


10 simple steps to start a business in The Netherlands

Are you considering starting your own business in The Netherlands? This step-by-step plan helps you with the steps you need to take when starting your own business in The Netherlands.


1.- Choose legal form

Every entrepreneur in the Netherlands must determine a legal form for his or her company. You can do this at an office of the Chamber of Commerce in your area. Because the chosen trade form influences liability and tax obligations, it is important that you choose the legal form that best suits your business plans.

You can change the legal form later, but this is a complicated process that may involve additional costs and administrative obligations, including the reapplication of permits.

One-man business
The vast majority of starters opt for a sole proprietorship, but it could well be that a VOF or foundation actually fits better with the principles of your company. So do good research on the different legal forms before you visit the Chamber of Commerce.

2.- Choose a company name

A good company name means more than just a name. With a clear and well-received trade name, you can expand your reach in one go and emphasize the most important message of your company, product or service to potential customers.

In principle, you are free to choose a trade name of your choice, provided you follow the rules. For example, your company name may not look too much like that of competitors and deception is also prohibited.

Can this company name be used?
Are you unsure whether the name you have in mind looks too much like an existing brand? You can check this in the trademark register of the BOIP (Benelux Office for Intellectual Property).

3.- Write a business plan

Why is it advisable to write a business plan? Because you can make the important plans concrete with a concrete business plan and also identify any future problem situations or disappointing periods.

Some starters may be a bit hesitant at first writing such a plan, but as you get serious about it, you will find that this process actually helps shape your plans.

4.- Register with the Chamber of Commerce

Every company in the Netherlands must be listed in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). For most legal forms, such as a sole proprietorship, limited partnership or partnership, registration is sufficient by personally visiting a Chamber of Commerce office.

If you start a legal entity, such as a private limited company, your notary will usually arrange the registration. You no longer have to register separately with the tax authorities (the Chamber of Commerce automatically forwards this information to the tax authorities).

5.- Check professional requirements

In principle, everyone is free to start for themselves, but in certain branches (such as health care) you may only carry out the work in question if you are authorized to do so.

For example, certain regulated (protected) professions may only be practiced after obtaining a national diploma. You can find more information about the professions to which this limitation applies at the Dutch organization for international cooperation in higher education (Nuffic).

So-called professional competence requirements may also exist in certain sectors. This entails entrepreneurs in childcare, but also catering porters and driving instructors.

6.- Check zoning plan

It will happen to you: just in the center of the city you have found a perfect building for your new jewelery store, you will find out that this building will be demolished in a few years time to make way for a new construction project.
This is precisely the reason that you should always check the zoning plan of the relevant municipality before signing a rental or purchase contract. If there are (short) plans to make changes to the intended location (or in the vicinity), it may be wiser to move to an alternative location.

7.- Create a website

Nowadays, as a starting entrepreneur, you can no longer do without: a good business website. After all, this will bring your company and its products or services to the attention of the target group in a professional manner. The same applies to the creation of a business email address.

Some starters choose to have this done by a professional agency, but a somewhat budget friendly option is to launch a (simpler) variant on your own. However, it depends on your specific wishes, budget and above all – your technical skills – whether this is a smart alternative.

It is important to remember that you – or the person you hire for this work – must ensure that the content of your website (texts, images, etc.) meets the current SEO guidelines. This way you increase the chance that the website will soon score better in Google and other search engines.

8.- Set up administration

For many entrepreneurs, updating the company administration is not high on the list of favorite activities, but this has to be done properly every now and then.

Accounting, or arranging (and keeping) the financial administration, is in fact legally required for everyone who starts a company.

Outsourcing accounting?
You can of course choose to outsource the bookkeeping to a professional. Whether this is the right choice for you depends mainly on how good you are with numbers and how many available hours you want to spend on getting your company records in order.

9.- Open business bank account

A business bank account is the best way to keep an overview of your finances and to prevent your business and private administration from getting mixed up.

This is not only useful for you to keep a better overview of your cash flow, but it can also be useful if the Tax and Customs Administration wants to have access to your administration.

Good to know: for some accountants and accountants, opening a business bank account is a requirement for all their customers.

10.- Take out relevant insurance

A well-known saying is not without reason: an accident is in a small corner. You would not be the first entrepreneur to start enthusiastically without covering the greatest risks and paying the (expensive) bill afterwards. As an entrepreneur you and – if you start hiring staff – your employees – you simply run certain risks.

You can think of incapacity for work due to an industrial accident or illness, but also storm damage to your business premises or the spilling of a cup of tea over the computer on location at a customer or client. Annoying situations, but all risks that you can cover by taking out relevant insurance.