Do you want to start a business in Netherlands as a foreigner? If Yes, here are 50 best small business ideas & investment opportunities in Netherlands.
Netherlands is a country in the northwestern axis of Europe. It is commonly referred to as Holland, which is wrong in principle, as Holland is just the name of the provinces of North and South in the country.
Netherlands is very beautiful country that is known for its extremely flat landscape, which is why they have a lot of bicycles and bicycle routes. The country is also known for its canals, tulip fields, windmills and robust population.
Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands, is home to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the house where Jewish diarist Anne Frank hid during WWII. Canalside mansions and a trove of works from artists including Rembrandt and Vermeer remain from the city’s 17th-century “Golden Age.” All these make the country a renowned tourist destination as the Netherlands welcomes millions of tourists every year.
Before i go ahead to furnish you with information on the top 10 businesses you can do in the Netherlands, i would like us to do an exercise; something i call the self-examination exercise. Please be as sincere as you can as you answer these questions.
Starting a Business in Netherlands: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself
- Am i self-motivated?-: A self-motivated individual need not be told what to do; he need not be yelled at or threatened before carrying out tasks and assignments. You see, when you become self-employed, you become your own boss, you can choose to wake up by 12pm and sleep at 5pm if you so wish. The only thing that will suffer is your bank account. There would be no boss breathing down your neck. To run a successful business, you have to be able to do things just because they need to be done and not because someone is forcing you to.
- Am i hungry? -: When i mean hungry, I don’t mean starvation. What I mean is, are you crazy about success? Do you have a passion for being successful? A successful businessman is not content with mediocrity; he is not okay with average results, he has tall dreams, he wants to be the next Bill Gates. His dreams are totally crazy and laughable but these are things that would propel him to success. Please if you are not hungry for success; keep your job because entrepreneurship might not sit well with you.
- Am i resourceful? -: No matter how much you have saved for your start-up, it wouldn’t be enough. Yes, the reason is because there are just so many new innovations, ideas and stuffs that you would wish you can incorporate into your business. This is why you need to be resourceful. You need to know how to get what you want without paying too much for it.
- Am i flexible?-: If you are someone who hates change or likes to sit in your comfort zone, then maybe business is not really for you. Frankly, the alias for business should be change. Someone tells you that printing and distribution of flyers is the way to get customers for your business and then in 3 months, comes back to say “oh, flyers are no longer dependable; you need to take your business online.” The business world revolves every day and new things come up every day and heavens help you if you decide not to join the moving wagon.
If you have answered no to any of the four questions above, then I advice you think deeply about your decision to become self-employed. For someone who wants to emigrate to Netherland to start a business, there various businesses that are peculiar to the country that you can start and make a lot of profit from. Some of them include;
Top 50 Small Business Investment Opportunities in Netherlands for Foreigners
- Open a bicycle repair shop
The Netherlands is known for its flat landscape, and for this reason, quite a lot of people make use of bicycles in the country. The Dutch are estimated to have at least 18 million bicycles. In 2013 the Netherlands together with Denmark were ranked by the European Cyclists’ Federation as the most bike-friendly countries in Europe. With that many bicycles, a reasonable business to start in the country is a bicycle repair store.
A bicycle repair shop is a fantastic venture to start for the following reasons: The business can be started and operated from a homebased workshop. It has low initial startup investment and minimal monthly operating overheads.
The country has proven consumer demand for bicycle repairs that increases each year. You can make additional profit when you sell bicycle parts. This business is a part-time or full-time opportunity that has very flexible operating hours, and the repair skills needed to operate the business are minimal and can be learned very quickly.
- Open a licorice factory
Licorice is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavour can be extracted. The licorice plant is a herbaceous perennial legume native to the Middle East, southern Europe, and parts of Asia, such as India. The Dutch are the biggest licorice eaters in the world. They consume 32 million kilos of the stuff every year. This has shown that another good business to open in Netherlands is to open a licorice factory. Because the country loves this treat, you would never want for sales.
- Open a souvenir shop
With Netherlands being a tourist destination, one profitable business to open in the country is a souvenir shop. This is because visitors to a particular area usually need souvenirs to take back to people at home, or even as a keepsake to remember their visit.
most popular tourist souvenirs usually found in the Netherlands include clogs (wooden shoes), miniature windmills, cheese, and tulips. You can set up your business close to a popular tourist destination so as to take advantage of visiting tourists.
- Open a cheese factory
The Dutch have been making cheese since 400 A.D. In fact, the Netherlands is the world’s biggest exporter of cheese and its dairy industry is worth a mind-blowing €7 billion. This is one way to launch yourself into a very profitable business.
If you have been schooled in the act of cheese making and refining, you can source for a small loan that can enable you start a cheese making factory in the country. You will get ahead in this business if your products are unique and delicious.
- Open a bacon factory
70% of the world’s bacon comes from the Netherlands. This goes to show that the Netherlands is biggest exporter of bacon in the world. I believe it would be smart to key into this yet viable business opportunity so as to make a name for yourself. If you do not have enough money to start a bacon factory outright, you can buy a franchise, or you can start other related businesses like bacon delivery, curing, etc.
- Open a micro-brewery
Did you know that the Netherlands is the largest beer exporter in the world? If you are a craft beer hobbyist, it might be time to take your recipes to the next level. You could make unique beers and sell them at select pubs. The selling point for microbrewery is their emphasis on unique flavor, the quality of their beer and their brewing technique. You can grow to such an extent that you start exporting your products outside the country. This should not be difficult as there is already an established process for that.
- Plant a tulip field
Tulips and tulip fields and flower bulbs are typically Dutch, yet tulips did not originate from the Netherlands. The first tulip bulbs were imported from Turkey to the Netherlands, where they proved to grow extremely well in Dutch soil.
Today, the Netherlands is the biggest producer and exporter of tulips in the world. One way to take advantage of the tulip business is to export your tulips. Yet another way is to make your field a tourist destination where you get to plant beautiful blossoming contrast of flowers that can get people to pay just to view it. There are a lot of such tulip fields in the country and they are making good income.
- Become a doula
In many countries, it’s customary to give birth in a hospital. Not in the Netherlands though: about 30% of all Dutch births happen at home. This is why there is a large demand for doulas in the country.
A doula, also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth support is a non-medical companion who supports a birthing person in the home by providing continuous care before, during, or after childbirth in the form of information, physical support, and emotional support.
They also may provide support to the partner and family. If you want to become a doula, you can get certified with some courses taken over a year to complete. Practical training is involved in order to become certified.
- Start a tourism agency
With over 4.2 million international visitors, Amsterdam is now Europe’s 5th-busiest tourist destination. One way to take advantage of this yearly influx of visitors is to start a travel agency. A travel agency is a private retailer or public service that provides travel and tourism related services to the public on behalf of suppliers of such as airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, travel insurance, and package tours. In addition to dealing with ordinary tourists, most travel agencies have a separate department devoted to making travel arrangements for business travelers.
- Become a horticultural architect
Since Netherlands is big on the flower culture and making a beauty out of it, it would make you loads of money if you become a certified horticultural architect. You can help people design their gardens, their building landscapes, even their green houses. This is a very exciting business if you love to work outdoors and love working with plants. If you are really good with this, your finished work will always speak for you.
- Coffee Cafe
After Scandinavians, the Dutch are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. They drink no less than 140 liters of coffee a year on average. That’s an amazing 3.2 cups a day! This goes to show that you can never go wrong by opening a coffee cafe in Netherlands. Setting up a coffee shop in a busy area will attract many customers during office break times and in the mornings. You can add donuts, pretzels or bagels as coffee accompaniment, and to as well increase your profit.
- Start an outsourcing business
The practice of having certain job functions done outside a company instead of having an in-house department or employee handle them, is known as outsourcing. Job functions can be outsourced to either a company or an individual.
Outsourcing has become a major trend in human resources over the past decade; so you can hinge your business apron here. You can find specific areas of business you can handle and start sourcing for jobs around those areas. Again, you can hire other independent contractors into your fold so you can be able to offer more jobs to customers.
- Sell cannabis and its by products
One thing to know about Netherlands is that the country has relaxed rules when it comes to cannabis and its byproducts. But this is not to say that they tolerate abuse of any form, so all your dealings have to be within the ambits of the law. With this in mind, you can open a cannabis store where you can sell medical cannabis, byproducts of the herb or even snacks infused with the herb. You may also be allowed to sell the leaf and the seeds too.
- Open a euthanasia or assisted suicide clinic
In the Netherlands, assisted suicide is legal – and not just for those with terminal illnesses. Anyone with ‘unbearable suffering’ can be given the relief they seek. Euthanasia in the Netherlands is regulated by the “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act” which was passed in 2001 and took effect in 2002.
It states that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are not punishable if the attending physician acts in accordance with criteria of due care. If you are a physician, you can open an assisted suicide clinic, but you have to make sure that you keep to all the rules so you do not get into trouble with the law.
- Open a ski shop
The geography of the Netherlands is dominated by water features. The country is criss-crossed with rivers, canals and dikes, and the beach is never far away. The western coast of the Netherlands has one of the most beautiful North Sea beaches that can be found, attracting thousands if not millions of people every year.
To take full advantage of these water bodies, the most profitable business to start is to open a ski shop. This is a shop that sells skiing paraphernalia to the public. You can also rent skis and other things to add to your income. This business is ideal if set up on the beach, as skiing is likely to go on year round because of the friendly weather of the country.
- Start a ski school
If you do not have the required finances to start a ski shop, you can start a ski school by the sea or any water body nearest to you. The only thing you need to start this business is you expert skills in skiing, and your ability to impact knowledge. You may also need to possess more than one pair of skis and protective gear. If people get to know that you are a professional at what you do, you would have no problems gaining and retaining clients.
- Sell umbrellas and raincoats
The Netherlands have a maritime temperate climate, which means that summers are generally cool and winters are generally mild. Every month of the year has rainfall, some are although very dry or very wet. With the all year round rain, one business that would thrive in the country is the sale of raincoats and umbrellas.
You can start your business from a storefront and even online, but know that you will make more money from a storefront because raincoats and umbrellas are mostly impulse buys. You can also repair umbrellas to add to your income.
- Start a boat storage service
A boat storage service provides indoor storage for boats, personal watercraft, recreational vehicles, snowmobiles and automobiles. This is a good business to start in Netherlands as a lot of people would own boats and other watercrafts because of the prevalence of water bodies in the country.
Before you start this business, you should know that high end toys require high end storage facilities. You should be able to build a facility large enough to accommodate and preserve them. If not, do not attempt it. This can net you good income though if you start the business.
- Open a snackbar
In town centres, near public transportation areas or even in more quiet quarters you can find a snackbar, sometimes known as frituur or cafeteria in Netherland. These snackbars are pretty much the antithesis of high cuisine, but their snacks are considered typical for the country, and many Dutch expats miss them the most when going abroad.
These outlets are basically giant vending machines. You just slot in a euro or two and take out the snack of your choice. You can dispense snacks like Croquette, Frikandel, Kaassoufflé, Bear’s claw, etc.
The most popular snack is French fries, known as patat in most of the country and as friet in the Southern Netherlands. The “standard” way is to order them with mayonnaise. Other sauces are tomato ketchup, curry ketchup (unlike regular curry, tastes more like ketchup), Indonesian peanut sauce (satésaus), cut raw onions (uitjes), special (speciaal, a combination of mayonnaise, curry ketchup and optionally cut raw onions) and war (oorlog, a combination of mayonnaise, peanut sauce and optionally with cut raw onions).
- Open a vegetarian restaurant
4.5 percent of the Dutch population is vegetarian and most restaurants have at least one vegetarian option on their menus or can make you one if you ask for it. Most supermarkets sell vegetarian products or even have a part of their supermarket dedicated to vegetarian products.
But generally, finding a vegetarian option in a fast food restaurant might provide more of a challenge. Chip shops that sell veggie burgers are the exception rather than the rule; chips and kaassoufflés are often the only options.
This is a great business opportunity to key into as an entrepreneur. This goes to show that you would not lack customers if you open a vegetarian shop in Netherlands. Now may be the right time to fill in the yawning gap of lack of vegetarian restaurants.
- Fitness/recreation business
Exercise has long been found to be the bedrock of healthy living, and almost everyone wants to boast of having visited the gym at least once or twice in a week. With this trend, opening a fitness center would surely pay you, and considering the high population of Netherlands, you may likely make a success out of your business if you have the right marketing strategies. To maximize your business potentials, you can make and sell exercise videos, or you can offer your services as a personal exercise coach.
- Advertising and promotion
With a lot of big and small businesses in Netherlands competing for the market, a business centered on advertising and marketing would be quite profitable in the state. If you are good with putting up promotional materials that can draw people to the products you are marketing, then maybe you should set up an advertising service. The country is rife with small businesses springing up, and your services would be greatly needed.
- Food truck
The food truck industry is growing an alarming rate. In 2015, the industry’s total revenue was $1.2 billion, with a five-year increase of 12.4%. For those with big culinary dreams but small risk tolerance, food trucks are a winning alternative to restaurants.
Food trucks are much less expensive to start and operate, and the failure rate of food trucks is much lower than conventional restaurants. You can specialize on cuisines from other countries and see how the people like it.
- Remote employee monitoring
Most employees need to be monitored before they can produce effective results. The interesting thing is that you don’t just monitor physical employees, you can equally monitor those that work remotely. Since the typical workforce is becoming more and more remote, so it then means that the remote employee monitoring service is booming. You can start this business and offer your services to organisations in Netherlands.
- Healthy vending machines
The healthy vending machine industry is grossing over $42 billion because people now want to eat healthier. With about $30,000 to $225,000 at hand, you can become the operator/owner of a healthy vending machine franchise. This industry is still growing and it would not take much of your time because it is a mostly passive business.
- Kid-friendly apps business
Tens of millions of kids are using smartphones and tablets these days, and there is money to be made from this. You can start this business if you know how to develop apps, or in the alternative, you can hire people who do to help you set up the apps. You may want to focus on health and wellness-driven apps first to get the parents on your side. Much later you can diversify into educational games and other stuffs that parents would be interested in getting their children.
- Sell Gluten-free products
Gluten free products are benefitting from a built-in customer base of those who suffer from Celiac Disease, but a lot of people have embraced this food trend. Because of this, it is estimated that gluten-free product sales would cross the $2.34 billion mark by 2019. You can take advantage of this expanding industry and start a business selling gluten-free products. You can also give online courses on gluten-free dieting, food preparation and certifications too.
- Niche pet services
The pet industry is doing really well right now, and by 2019, the market is expected to hit $92 billion, and a variety of recent start-ups have proven that with a little innovation and niche targeting, you can make good profits in the industry. Your pet niche services could be training dogs, teaching parrots to talk, potty training cats etc. With the number of families that have pets in Netherlands, you would certainly make good profits from this business.
- Accountant or Bookkeeper
Taxes are a certainty of life as far as the world is concerned. People and businesses will almost certainly need help with bookkeeping and tax filing. If you have the necessary training and certifications, offering your services as an accountant can be a great idea for you. It would not take you much to start this business, you only need to know how to market your services.
- Home-Based Child Care
If you love kids, if you are exceptionally responsible, if you have impeccable references, and can handle high-stress situations, a home-based child care business may be an excellent small business for you to start. Many parents forgo commercial daycare programs or nannies, and look for home-based child care situations that allow their children to be watched in someone’s home with other children. This could be a great business you can take advantage of especially in Netherlands where parents don’t joke with the welfare of their children.
- Internet research
With the vast amount of information available online these days, being able to locate and validate information is a marketable skill. Do you have a knack for quickly finding relevant information on the Internet? If so, an Internet research business may be the perfect business idea for you
- Childproofing business
A lot of new parents are still grappling with taking care of their new born, and have not yet considered if their homes are safe for their children. The fact that a lot of household accidents happen yearly makes childproofing a home very essential. You can offer this service to new parents who do not know where to start to make their homes safe for their children.
- Errand services
Errand services is a good small business to start in the Netherlands because a good number of residents there have no time to start running basic errands in the home. The errands may be domestic task around the home or even grocery shopping. You can get paid to carry out these errands by starting your very own errand service. You can also take your errand service online to be able to reach out to a wide range of people.
- Ice Cream Shop Business
Ice cream is one of the most popular treats of all time, and it can also double as a very sweet business proposition in Netherlands. This is because the climate of the country allows for the consumption of ice cream all year round.
With enough capital, hard work, and the right ice cream supplies, you can make your dreams of operating a successful ice cream shop come true. Whether you will go the traditional route with scoops of ice cream or you choose a newer trend such as frozen yogurt, this small business is very profitable.
- Fumigation Services
A typical agro allied related service business that an aspiring entrepreneur who is considering starting a business in Netherlands should consider starting is fumigation services. Fumigation is done to eliminate unwanted insects, weeds etc.
This business is easy to set up and you can equally run it from the comfort of your home. Note that you have to be knowledgeable about the various chemicals in use, and you have to apply and get the required licenses before you can be allowed to operate this business.
- Funeral home
Netherlands, with its warm weather and low-priced housing, has long been an attractive destination for retirement-age adults. Thus, a good percentage of the population is over 65. This then means that one good business to start in the country is a funeral home.
Quite a number of people would balk at this for a business idea, but the fact remains that people are born and people die eventually. You can start a funeral home business and make a decent income, though it may not make you very rich.
- Plumbing service
In recent time, it appears that plumbers are difficult to come by; and a lot of countries, including Netherlands, seem not to have enough of this service. So if you are looking for a home improvement business to start in the state, then one of your options is to start a plumbing business.
It is almost general knowledge that you would need to acquire plumbing skills if you intend starting a plumbing business. You can comfortably run this type of small business alone, but if you are overwhelmed by demands, you can hire one or more employees.
- Courier service
Courier and transportation services — both local and long-distance — are essential in any economy, because time sensitive materials always need to be transported from place to place. If you are willing to make deliveries in tight schedules, in all weather conditions and even on holidays, you can increase your chances of succeeding. Word of mouth marketing is a key element of growing this type of business, so make sure you ask for referrals once you begin to collect happy customers.
- Laundry service
Everyone generates dirty laundry, and as such a laundry service is a good business to start anywhere including Netherlands. This business, even as it is lucrative, requires very little startup capital and expertise. All you need to do is find a good location and gather the required equipment. Spread word of your business all over your neighborhood and you will surely get clients provided you offer quality services.
- Recycling Business
A recycling facility engages in the recycling of materials such as plastic, paper and glass from waste locations. Once these materials have been separated and sorted, operators go ahead to refine them into useable products and then sell them to wholesalers as well as manufacturers. You can run a small recycling plant in Texas and where you can recycle either paper, plastic, metals or the likes.
- Fundraising service
A fundraising service is a business that helps individuals and businesses to raise funds for their cause. A professional fundraiser works with charities, nonprofit organizations, schools, groups and political groups to help each organization raise the money it needs. Being that there are a lot of such businesses that need help raising funds in Netherlands, so a fundraising service would do well in the country. You will get your income from commissions from the funds you raise.
Part of the basic needs of man is clothing, and everyone has to be clothed no matter the season. You can choose to set up a boutique in the Netherlands and make a lot of profits. You can choose to go strictly high end in order to carve a niche for yourself because a lot of people can afford such clothes owing to the economic viability of the country. Also, you can go affordable, so that you can get the desired turnover that can move your business forward.
- Construction site cleanup
Netherlands is a country that is always improving on its structures because of its comfortable economic state, and wherever construction is going on, there is bound to be a mess. Construction site cleanup services perform a final cleaning and removal of left over construction materials from commercial and residential properties.
If you can handle this level of cleaning, then you can start this business. But you should note that starting a cleanup business requires a variety of licenses and permits, as well as a budget for buying or leasing the equipment you will need.
- Pet sitting service
With the increase in disposable income, a lot of people in Netherlands can afford to have pets. You can decide to take care of pets for people when they have reasons to leave their homes for some length of time. You get to walk, feed and bath the pets. Taking care of pets is quite easy as pets generally do their thing most of the day. You can even decide to open a day care where people can bring their pets and collect them at the end of the day.
- Logistics/Haulage Business
There are lots of businesses that are into importation and exportation in the Netherlands. This is because Netherlands is big on exporting. These businesses somehow need to transport their goods either from the port to their business premises or the other way round and need haulage contractors to carry it out for them. If you have a truck and you are able to get the required licenses, your best bet is to start a haulage business.
- Make and Sell Arts and Crafts
This is especially good for people who do not have much capital to spare. You can make money from creating and selling little things like jewelries, pet dresses, shopping bags, flip-flops, hats and a lot more. You can sell these on the internet or supply to shop owners who would sell for an extra profit.
- Open a Cinema
After a hard day at work, or maybe a tough working week, we all need places to rewind and recharge. A cinema is one of such places where people can relax; take their spouse or girlfriend to and a very good destination for family outings. Starting a cinema in Netherlands is definitely a business you won’t regret as long as you choose a very good location.
- Home Food Delivery
Not everyone can cook and a lot of people who can cook have no time. A lot of people rely on fast foods and restaurants for their daily meals. Now imagine that these people had access to an opportunity, where the food would be brought to them within the comfort of their homes and offices without having to move an inch? This is a service that thousands would embrace because of the ease and convenience it offers.
- I.T Gadget Sales and Repairs
Look around you, almost everyone you see has a phone or two, including maybe a tablet and or a laptop. Now, phones don’t last forever and need to be replaced and repaired. Even if they do, everyone wants to use the latest iPhone or the latest Samsung series; which gives room for the phone seller to make money.
- Online Sales
You can also set up an online store to sell anything you want from clothes, to gadgets and even services. The good thing about this business is that location is not a constraint as you can be patronized by anyone from anywhere in the world.
More Small Business Opportunities in Netherlands for Foreigners
51. Agri-Food Business-: This is one of the thriving sectors in Netherlands. It involves farming as well as manufacturing. You can make anything from bottled jam to canned fruits and drinks.
You could start by setting up your own small farmland and use the harvests of your farm to manufacture food items that you can either export or sell locally. It’s not even necessary to have a farm; even though having your own farm can help reduce your production costs. You can still start with purchasing in bulk from farmers, if you don’t want to do all the farming dirty work yourself.
52. Logistics / Haulage Business-: There are lots of businesses that are into importation and exportation in the Netherlands. These businesses somehow need to transport their goods either from the port to their business premises or the other way round and need haulage contractors to carry it out for them.
Apart from this, you can also go into construction haulage where you would help people that are carrying out building projects to transport items to their building sites. You could also start a moving service to help people move property, furniture and other things from place to place.
53. Creative Arts-: This is especially good for people who do not have much capital to spare. You can make money from creating and selling little things like jewelries, pet dresses, shopping bags, flip-flops, hats and a lot more. You can sell these on the internet or supply to shop owners who would sell for an extra profit.
54. Child-Care Centre-: We all love our children and want them to be with capable hands, when we are not there or we are busy at work. This is why child care centers are very important. You can set up a standard childcare center or start one from home. It doesn’t really matter how you start; what matters is that you can take proper care of the kids entrusted in your care.
55. Cinema-: After a hard day at work, or maybe a tough working week, we all need places to rewind and recharge. A cinema is one of such places where people can relax; take their spouse or girlfriend to and a very good destination for family outings. Starting a cinema in Netherlands is definitely a business you won’t regret as long as you choose a very good location.
56. Home Food Delivery-: Not everyone can cook and a lot of people who can cook have no time. A lot of people rely on fast foods and restaurants for their daily meals. Now imagine that these people had access to an opportunity, where the food would be brought to them within the comfort of their homes and offices without having to move an inch? This is a service that thousands would embrace because of the ease and convenience it offers.
57. I.T Gadget Sales and Repairs-: Look around you. Almost everyone you see has a phone. Now, phones don’t last forever and need to be replaced and repaired. Even if they do, everyone wants to use the latest iPhone or the latest Samsung series; which gives room for the phone seller to make money.
58. Online Sales-: You can also set up an online store to sell anything you want from clothes, to gadgets and even services. The good thing about this business is that location is not a constraint as you can be patronized by anyone from anywhere in the world.
59. Pet Trainer-: We all love pets but not many of us can go through the stress of training them especially on obedience. You can make a lot of money from helping people train their pets.
60. Construction Cleaning Services-: You can also make money from helping people remove wastes and clean up their construction sites.