As a relatively small country comprised of quaint architecture, meandering canals, and very tall people, the Netherlands may seem like an unassuming place to substantiate your business.
Nevertheless, an increasing amount of innovative interest has culminated here over the decades and the country is now renowned as a globally favored location for start-ups. In the following article, we will have a brief but cohesive look at how the Dutch have created this business habitat, and elaborate on some facts about why start-ups thrive here.
Strong Business Legacy
The Dutch Golden Age ended some 350 years ago, but is has left the Netherlands with a legacy of having international business, being a well-connected nation, and fostering an ethos of economic success. The Dutch East and West India Trading Companies financed the development of major cities in the Netherlands and made them centrally important to commerce both within and outside of Europe. Even today, this small country is the second-largest global exporter of food by dollar value and they have managed this by creating and utilizing the world’s most efficient agricultural techniques.
This legacy of successful business is founded on innovative approaches. With start-ups being a cornerstone of innovative business, the Netherlands boasts political policies that help start-ups pursue innovation, such as large tax subsidies for R&D Innovation. These historical factors combined with current policies continue to make the Netherlands a hot-bed for thriving businesses.
Location and Infrastructure
The process of urban development across the central-western Netherlands has resulted in a city cluster called the Randstad; a megapolis centered around four vital cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. These four cities are all located within an hour of traveling from each other, and they are all internationally connected financial hubs. As such, the country is supremely well linked for business.
Furthermore, the Netherlands enjoys a stable political climate and is characterized by a general respect for governmental policies, which makes it a reliable place for businesses. Geographically, the Netherlands’ advantageous position allows it to effectively use the whole transport trifecta: land, sea, and water. As such, the Netherlands offers the entire world easy access routes into the rest of Europe, which is something that many of the landlocked European countries cannot do.
Dutch Start-up Visa
This special visa was introduced to make it easier for non-EU residents to fund and mobilize start-ups in the Netherlands. In effect, foreign entrepreneurs can get Dutch residency for a year on the premise that they “introduce an innovative new product or service” to the Dutch economy.
This approach further diversifies the national business culture by bringing more foreign entrepreneurs to the country. With more non-EU people doing business in the Netherlands, the country’s global connectivity automatically improves. Also, with Brexit ever invidiously looming on the horizon, the Dutch Startup Visa offers UK businesses the opportunity to make their home in the Netherlands without lengthy complications.
People and Culture
Typically, the Dutch are focused on efficiency and do very well at integrating this into their culture. You’ll notice this in the fact that transport links are reliable, cycle-friendly cities are common (reducing commuting time and helping the environment), and registering your business at the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) is a quick and easy process.
There is also a focused effort to disband archaic and bureaucratic systems of business in favor of innovative and contemporary working styles. This effort works favorably for start-ups, for they are usually the ones utilizing modern business management styles, such as a flat organization structure and making use of co-working spaces as an office.
Moreover, there is a thriving ex-pat community in all major cities and over 90% of the country speaks English. With English being the global language of business, this greatly nourishes Dutch international interactions and communicability.
After explaining these key factors, the only question that’s left for you to ask is: What’s keeping me from choosing the Netherlands for my start-up, and how can I overcome this barrier?