Having Your Own Business in the Netherlands:3 Pros and Cons
By Joanna Ioannidou, Entrepreneur
Setting up a business in the Netherlands holds promise. Though small in size, the country is strategically positioned in Europe and has an internationally-oriented economy.
What about the reality of running your own business here however? I’ve grown to like lists, so looking back at my experiences as a business owner in the Netherlands I put together the following list of pros and cons.
You can work in English. As a rule the Dutch speak English almost fluently, and many don’t mind doing business in English. You will encounter the occasional client that won’t feel comfortable speaking anything other than Dutch in a work setting, but overall that should not hinder your business potential much.
You can find good associates/employees. There are many talented people in the Netherlands – both Dutch and internationals – and you will have an excellent pool of resources to draw from. In addition, much of the country’s workforce is operating on a freelance basis (ZZP’s), so if you are not ready for employees you can still get access to many talented co-workers.
You will know where you stand. The Dutch are direct — to the point of occasionally coming across as blunt. Expect honesty and openness in both in their personal life and at work. Though this may take some adjustment, all in all it is a benefit as you will likely always know where you stand with your Dutch clients and/or collaborators.
It’s challenging to figure out legal and financial matters. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, so that is the language in which you will find almost all documentation provided by the government. This makes it difficult to figure out tax rules and legal issues on your own, especially when you are starting up and there are many things to learn about they Dutch system.
Dutch law favors employees significantly. The employment law of the Netherlands is relatively complex, and all in all it gives employees a strong legal position. Although this is generally good, it can be unfair to small businesses and startups where consistent funds are a challenge.
Dutch employees feel more entitled. Employees working under Dutch law enjoy relative job security and many benefits — such as 40-hour work weeks, and at least 20 days of paid leave a year. These employee conditions help ensure increased employee satisfaction, but tend to be taken for granted resulting in a mentality of entitlement in many Dutch employees.
In the end, it is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons and start your business here. In my experience, if you plan right and pick your partners and clients carefully, you can certainly make it work!
“The Netherlands” photo credit: Nicola Albertini on Flickr
Share this article: