Home Business 16 Best business to start in the Netherlands as a foreigner

16 Best business to start in the Netherlands as a foreigner

by Rafal Sulowski

Some businesses are better for certain markets than others. The Dutch market is very specific. First of all, it’s an expensive country, so the initial investment can be quite high. I am an entrepreneur and I live already 6 years in the Netherlands. Based on my experience I would like to share with you, the best businesses to start in the Netherlands.

  1. Online Business
  2. Healthy Vending Machines
  3. Bicycle Repair
  4. Social Media Agency
  5. Export of local products
  6. Software Development, App Development
  7. Copywriting Agency
  8. Construction Business
  9. Catering
  10. Sell souvenirs
  11. Start a Brewery
  12. Tourism
  13. Coffeeshop
  14. Foodtruck
  15. Coaching
  16. Personal Trainer

My “Best business to start in the Netherlands as a foreigner” research is based on expenses, supply, and demand in the Netherlands. It’s a very specific market, which makes it very easy to start a business but it may be a bit tricky as the Netherlands is a pricey country.

1. Online Business

The Netherlands is quite an expensive country and it may be pricey to start a business. For example, if you would like to open a shop, the rental cost is enormously high. That’s why I think, in the beginning, it’s best to start a business that will generate low costs. Going online is easy to scale and it comes with almost no costs. That’s surely a way to go.

I started at first with blogging, now I do other things such as creating websites for my clients and managing their websites, but basically I do most part of my business online. I like the independence that it brings because you can travel, and all you need is your laptop. You may ask how much you can earn by blogging? Oh dear, you would be surprised how much money you can make with a simple blog. If you have any specific questions about that feel free to contact me.

Costs that you have starting business like that are very low. You have to get a laptop, it might be even a second-hand computer. You also need hosting plus some online tools and services but in general, costs are very low. If you are worried that you have no idea about online business do not worry, there are plenty of different courses online. To be honest you don’t even have to pay for knowledge. Most information you’ll get from blogs and from YouTube.

If you are serious about doing some online business I recommend you Jim and Ricky from Income School. They do a great job when it comes to internet marketing and they created a high value, helpful community of people creating online passive income. I am a part of their community and I can definitely recommend it.

2. Healthy Vending Machines

Health becomes important for so many people. In the age of obesity and autoimmune disease, people start searching for some more healthy solutions and lifestyle. I think that especially in countries where the quality of life is high and basic people’s needs are met on a daily basis then we focus on increasing the quality of their lives.

The Netherlands is crazy about health. Most of the people really care about their well being, they eat healthily, they exercise, do yoga and meditation. Vending Machines with healthy food could be a great business idea. You can put there some superfoods, water with electrolytes, and healthy snacks. However, this business needs some investment. I would stay that you may need around 30 000 euros to start.

Amsterdam is a vegan heart of Europe. There are plenty of vegan restaurants in this city, so you may think of putting some vegan snacks in your vending machine. Shit… I have some pretty damn good ideas… ;P But remember, ideas are worth nothing until you start putting work in it.

3. Bicycle Repair

There are over 800 000 bicycles in Amsterdam itself, so definitely there is a market for bike repair. I’ve seen people doing mobile bicycle repair and that’s also a good idea. I wouldn’t start with it in the city center. I’ve been living in the suburbs and I’ve seen this old man repairing bikes every day, all day. There was always a lot of people coming to his little bike shop. He had two garages. In one of them, he was repairing bikes and in the second one, he had some bikes for sale. He was quite pricey but still, he had a lot of clients.

There are many bike-related niches that you can think of such as bike rental, import, export, maybe some bicycle customization, sell bicycle gear, etc. Maybe you can even give bikes to students for free and put some ads on them so ad companies pay you for each student cycling on these bikes at least 5 km per day.

4. Social Media Agency

Nowadays everyone wants to be online. Or I would say that if you have a business you must be online. But when someone is busy doing their business they don’t really have time to learn how to create an Instagram account, Facebook profile and how to optimize their website. And to be honest it’s nothing difficult, you can learn everything about that from Youtube. There are many videos and professional blogs so you don’t even need to invest in courses.

When you learn some basics, just find businesses that need help with their social media. Search online for some local businesses, such as restaurants, bike shops, bookshops, jewelry shops, etc. and help a few of them for free. Now you have a portfolio and you know what you do, so you can start getting paid for your work. That’s such a great business as you can focus on searching clients and at the same time hire someone to work on social media. You can scale quite quickly in this niche and there is still a lot of space for everyone. Sometimes when I see social media and websites of some serious businesses I am shocked how poor they are. You don’t need to be super professional, just make it better than they have it now.

5. Export of local products

I own also another blog about dutch bikes and I was contacted last week by a guy who lives in Irelands and who wants to import Dutch bikes. He told me that bikes aren’t that popular in Ireland but he thinks that they will be in the future and he wants to import Dutch high-quality bikes to Ireland.

Another idea is a Dutch food. I love stroopwafel, oliebollen, and butter cakes. There are many Dutch products that are not well known in the world. If you are a foreigner just think what they sell here and at the same time is not available in your country.

6. Software Development, App Development

Amsterdam is an IT heart of the world and you can learn a lot by working in a software development company. I think that this can be a great start to your own business. When you learn software and App development you can easily start with your own business and there is a high demand for services like that.

7. Copywriting Agency

If you have a passion for writing you can earn some good money. I pay at least 30 euros for an article that my writers write in 1,5 hour and that’s the lowest pay I offer and to be honest, it’s not that much. Maybe it’s not much for someone living in the Netherlands but if you hire someone living in a country with a much lower quality of life that’s really a lot for them. Here you can think of arbitrage!

Have you heard of arbitrage? It’s when you buy something cheaper and sell it more expensive. When it comes to services we live in a great era as you can hire someone from India or Nigeria who will write articles for you on a budget. Then you can resell these articles to your customers.

Also if you know about branding and SEO you can write short articles that are paid much much better.

The thing is that you can do it with many different services such as design, web development, research, copywriting, etc. There are sites like Fiverr, where you can find freelancers from all over the world.

8. Construction Business

My friend owns a construction business and he earns some good money on bathroom restoration. The thing is that you hire employees and find jobs. It’s very expensive to renew a bathroom so you earn quite a lot of money doing that.

If you are a handy guy, you just start with something that you already know. If you have no experience with construction start with painting. It’s the easiest you can do, it’s well paid and by hiring some employees you can easily scale. First, work for someone for a few weeks and when you learn some basics, you can start with your own business. In most cases, companies will not hire you as an employee. You must start your own company and you work for someone as a freelancer. Thanks to that you can work for someone and at the same time search for side jobs. I recommend you Werkspot. You can promote here your services.

9. Catering

That’s a great idea for a beginner entrepreneur. If you cook at home you don’t need much investment. I was helping someone with starting a home-based catering business. I was so surprised when I called Amsterdam city hall and they informed me that you don’t need any license for that kind of business. You just need to create a HACCP food safety management system and register your company. It’s very easy to start with catering. I believe that even if you only bake cakes and you do a great Instagram profile you will get a lot of clients. The key is marketing!

If you are a foreigner you can start with your native cuisine. Join some Facebook groups where you can promote your food and you will be surprised how many people are interested in it. Focus on high quality and good price.

10. Sell souvenirs

The Netherlands is a touristic country. If you live in places like Amsterdam you can consider a souvenir business. Even if you don’t live in a very touristic city you can create some souvenirs and then sell it to souvenir stores. Just create a fun product, Instagram account, and a little website. I am sure you will find someone to buy your goods. I’ve seen also people selling souvenirs from the Netherlands on Amazon ;p I don’t know why because I would never buy souvenir online ;P

If you know how to make some woodwork that can be a way to go. You can also make some easy Tshirts with catchy writing. When it comes to Amsterdam you can sell some cannabis-related stuff. My friend sells cannabis jelly candy. They don’t have any THC but tourists buy them as souvenirs.

11. Start a brewery

Beer is very popular in this part of Europe. Belgium is a brewing heart of Europe but there are also many breweries in the Netherlands. People appreciate the taste of a homemade beer or a beer from the little brewery. You can start small by brewing a beer at home and selling it to your friends. When the thing gets bigger, then you can start doing that professionally.

You can start with some basic brew kit like this one on Amazon. Make some research on youtube and you can quickly learn how to brew a beer.

12. Tourism

There are 16 million tourists coming to the Netherlands each year. There is a whole industry built around this market. But, if you look for some niche you can make good money. You can organize some tours or parties for tourists.

13. Sell Coffee

According to this research, Dutch people are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. That’s true, coffee is everywhere and I think there is still some niche in the coffee market where you can invest. For example, you can get a big thermos and put it on your back and sell a coffee in touristic areas or during the events!

Have you seen in the past a gastronomic backpack? It looks like a big thermos that you carry on your back and there is hot water inside. So you can make quickly an instant coffee for a customer. Another idea is to sell coffee from a coffee bike. It’s a kind of cargo bike with a coffee machine in the front.

14. Food Truck

Food trucks get more and more popular. There is even a festival for food trucks in Amsterdam. It’s called Rollende Keukens. Once I was planning to start a food truck business but unfortunately, I didn’t get a license. If you would like to start a business like this you have to apply for a license much earlier. I mean like a year earlier. The municipality plan in which areas of the city they put some food trucks. So there is only a limited amount of licenses for very specific locations. You can’t say that you found a spot and you want to sell food in this particular place. You can read more about starting a food truck in the Netherlands here.

15. Become a Coach

If you are good at anything, tennis, golf, you know sales, finances, design or any other skill, you can become a coach. People always dwell and think they don’t know enough to teach others. But the truth is that you don’t need to be the best in the world to teach others. The most important is that you know more than your client. People just need someone who will guide their growth and track their results.

That’s especially a great option for guys who are into personal development. Today a lot of people struggle with self-esteem, productivity. Many people want to be the best version of themselves and there is a place for a life coach. If you want to scale as a coach you should think of an online course in your field.

16. Become a Personal Trainer

That’s basically the start of owning a business. First, you have to educate yourself and get some clients. In the future out of being 1 person company, you can hire a dietician, physiotherapist. Another good idea is to sell online weight loss programs and organize weight loss boot camps. Weightloss programs sell great. I know that because I have a friend who is a personal trainer and when it comes to looking good everyone wants a quick solution. No one wants to work for it.

But be aware that the work of a personal trainer is quite difficult. People often want to train before they start their job so it’s very early in the morning or they prefer to exercise after work, late in the evening. Most of the time you must be full of energy and encourage your clients! Also, there is a problem with hiring trainers. Every good personal trainer has its own business. So basically you need to be a face of your brand.

17. Business For Sale

If you don’t want to start from scratch and you have some money for the investment you may consider buying an existing business. You can search for some online. There are plenty of websites selling businesses, but to be honest I wouldn’t do that. In fact, the most exciting part of the business is at it’s beginning before it becomes so bureaucratic and organized.

Wrap Up

I hope that these ideas give you some inspiration. Now if you think that you have an idea for your business you have to work. Remember that ideas are worth nothing until you put a lot of work in it. If you have any questions of suggestions feel free to contact me! Cheers

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