Webinar: Registering and starting up a business in the Netherlands


[OPENING TUNE] NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: If you want
to set up a business as a foreigner… …there are several steps
you will have to take. Also you need to know
about the Dutch market… …rules for employers
and legal forms. With me are Johan Laffra
from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce… …and Israeli entrepreneur
Avishai Trabelsi… …founder and CEO of Quicargo
a business he started in the Netherlands. Welcome to you both, gentlemen. AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Thank you. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Good to have you here. When you came to the Netherlands
you started Quicargo. What kind of business is Quicargo? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
I moved here April 2016. Quicargo is a market place.
It is an online platform. It matches empty trucks
that are running around the roads… …to any business
that needs transportation. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Was there a gap in the market… …for filling empty trucks? AVISHAI TRABELSI: Now about 50%
of the trucks you see on the roads… …are completely empty or partly empty. So we have a lot of potential
to utilize and improve it commercially… …but also it is going to improve
a lot of the congestion we are having… …and of course the CO2
and the greenhouse gas. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
How did you come up with this idea? AVISHAI TRABELSI: I was managing
my family trucking company… …back in Israel
and I had the same problem. We had a lot of empty trucks
and the margin was very low. So we needed to fill the trucks
to get a better margin on the operation. Once I realized it is a big problem,
not only in Israel… …I decided to quit
and start the global Quicargo. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Wow, very interesting. AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Thank you. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
If you want to start your business here… …what do you need to know
and what do you need to take care of? JOHAN LAFFRA:
I would always start with myself. Do I have everything I need
to be a successful entrepreneur. Do I have the right skills, the right drive,
the motivation to make it a success. Am I willing to go all the way for it. I think that is always going to be
the first thing. The second thing is to decide
if there is a market. So you need to take a closer look
at what is the competition like… …who are going to be your clients,
how many of those are there… …and will this eventually end up
in a successful business. I think that is going to be step two. There might be something to take a look at
if you need some sort of financing. Is there money needed to set up? But if that is all taken care of
the only thing that remains… …is registering at
the Chamber of Commerce. And from that point on
you are ready and set to go. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
And if you have done that… …what do you need to do next? JOHAN LAFFRA: When you did all that
and you actually have a business… …it is time to go out there, start doing
the work and start making money. Yes, I think that is it. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
And do you need anything else… …like from the government,
like citizen service numbers? JOHAN LAFFRA:
That is a part indeed. That is also something
you need to take a look at. Of course you need to have a tax number. You need to have a VAT-number. In order to do so you need a personal
identification number, a BSN-number. So, there are a few things on the side
that need to be taken care of as well. Those are the two important ones. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: How did you
prepare to enter the Dutch market place? AVISHAI TRABELSI: It started with
not stopping to dream about Quicargo… …like in the last three
or two and a half years. Then, once I took the decision, I sold
my house, my car and started to invest. The first point you mentioned is to realize
that you need to invest a lot in it. That is related to your point. The second thing is that market research
is the most important thing. Before we decided to move to the Netherlands
I travelled three months around Europe… …after analysing and research
on potential markets to start with. I invested a lot of time in talking
to hundreds of companies, experts… …and logistics professors in Germany, UK,
Poland and here. Eventually I just asked the people
in the companies. I offered my proposition and here
was the fastest reaction to start. Just let’s try it and see if it is working. This is how we started. It was a lot of man hours
and a lot of phone calls… …but eventually from the first client
it started to be where we are now. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: Perfect.
And who are your customers? AVISHAI TRABELSI: We are targeting
mainly micro small businesses. They actually don’t have their own
logistic department internally… …or they don’t have a third party
that is handling all the logistic flow. We can actually help them to be
much more flexible… …and also commercially
in terms of prices. They are saving transport costs
but they also have the green impact. As a small company it is not your
first priority to be green. But with our system you can actually
do it right away without investment. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: Perfect.
You started the business with employees… …but you can also start your business
as a self-employed person. JOHAN LAFFRA:
That is true. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
You have different legal forms. What are those forms?
What are the options? JOHAN LAFFRA: Mostly we see
a lot of people registering… …either a sole proprietorship
or a general partnership. Both of those look at you
as an individual, as a person. It is also possible to go for a legal form,
a legal entity in the Netherlands… …being a private limited company,
also called a BV. Those are the two that we end up
with the most. Some people use words like freelancing
and zzp… …which is also a term very widely used
in the Netherlands. Those are not specific legal forms. When you start as a zzp or a freelance… …you either end up with a sole
proprietorship or with a BV… …with you as being
the director shareholder. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: How do you choose
the legal form that suits you best? JOHAN LAFFRA:
That depends on your work upfront. There are a few differences.
One has to do with taxes. Being a start-up business with a low
profit expectation… …might benefit more
from a sole proprietorship. On the other hand there are issues
with liability. If you have an activity in which you are
highly liable, high risk… …it could be better to choose
for the BV instead… …that has a limited liability. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Which legal form did you choose and why? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
We are a BV… …and mostly because of our funding terms
externally from investors. Once they are investing you must have
a legal entity, a BV. JOHAN LAFFRA: Did your investors
get shares in your business? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Yes, they have equity in the business. So we are partners. When you are a partner I think it is very
important to share equity easily. I don’t even know if you can do
a partnership without sharing equity. JOHAN LAFFRA:
That is also something to look at. With multiple shareholders
you need to go with a BV company. The other one isn’t option. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: When and how
do you register your company… …at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce? JOHAN LAFFRA:
That depends on the scenario. If you want to set up
a private limited company… …you go to a notary and they
will take care of it, also with us. So in that case we don’t see you at all. If you go for a sole proprietorship
or a general partnership… …you come to our office. You set up an appointment
and fill out the paperwork… …and stop by, either alone or with
all partners if there is more than one. AVISHAI TRABELSI:
They have good coffee. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Yes? You recommend it? [LAUGHING] NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
What is the right moment to register? Is there a right moment? JOHAN LAFFRA: I would say
when you start doing the business. If you have clients,
if you have turnover coming in… …that would be a point of registration. It does not work like that all the time. At some point you might be a little sooner
than the actual starting point. In my experience don’t be too soon. Taxes will start
and you get a lot of paperwork… …which is useless if you did not start
already. But if you need it for whatever reason
or if there are clients nearby… …then you should have yourself registered. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Of course your business needs a trade name. How do you come up with a good one? JOHAN LAFFRA:
I wish I knew. You really need to find something. For some it comes naturally and for
another it is really work to get a name… …that suits what it is
that you are going to do. Just keep in mind
that you need to be unique. It cannot already be used by someone else. It cannot be misleading in any way. So it needs to be unique. You really need to find one yourself. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Which is not confusing as well. JOHAN LAFFRA:
Which is not confusing as well… …which becomes more and more difficult… …because we have a lot of businesses
in the Netherlands. It is in the millions now. So try to find something
that isn’t already out there. That is going to be a difficult process,
but still you need to find one. If it is not going to work for just you
ask your family and friends… …the people around you who know
who you are and what you are about to do. That might end up with some good ideas
for a lot of people. It also need to be considered if you want
to have a website for your business. That also needs to be a name
that is still available as a domain name. Also you should check
if your trade name… …is already registered somewhere
as a brand name. If that is the case
you cannot use it as well. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: Of course.
How did you come up with your name? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
I used my network, my friends, family… …and the most creative people I knew
to think about three aspects. The first thing is that it needs to be easy
to pronounce. You don’t want a very difficult one. The second thing is that it needs be
international if it is your intention. It is very important because I see
a lot of companies with very domestic names. Then it is very difficult to pronounce. They absolutely need to change
the name when they go global. And we are all going global of course. The third thing is
that you need to explain the values… …that you are trying to propose
to your audience. This is how we came to the name Quicargo. It is quick and easy,
very easy to book a shipment. This is how we did it. I have one comment here. The company, the legal entity,
can be a different name than the brand name. It is important
to give you more flexibility. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
I am wondering… …do you need any qualifications,
permits or certificates… …to start a business in the Netherlands? JOHAN LAFFRA: You don’t actually
need it for the starting itself. Starting itself is for us
to have you come by… …and register the business. We are not going to ask you
for any paperwork at that point. But there are some specific areas
in which you still need permits. Transport for one is well-known. Also if you want to start
a food and beverage establishment… …there are also rules and regulations. But it is not something we ask you
when you come for registration itself. But in certain areas and professions
there are some things you need to have… …in order to be able to do the activity
itself. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
You have employees. Do you have Dutch employees
or foreign employees or both maybe? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Yes, we are an international team. 80% are Dutch and the rest are from Israel,
the United States and Brazil. We relocate people
from all over the world… …in order to realize Quicargo. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
It is very international? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Yes. It are important vibes to keep. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Nice. Can you actually run a business
from your home address? JOHAN LAFFRA:
That depends on the activity. Some you can and some you can’t. If it is just you at home
at your laptop doing some consulting… …that is fine to do from home. If you were to sell, a very bad example,
fireworks… …storage at home might not be
the smart thing to do. So in my experience it depends
on the activity that you have. In some cases it is allowed
and in other cases it is prohibited. If you want to know for sure
you can check with the municipality… …to find out if there are any
specific limitations. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
How do you minimize risks? JOHAN LAFFRA:
Be careful with what you do. I think that is the first step. Changing the legal form might help
going from sole proprietorship to a BV. That could limit your risks hugely. But also think of insurances,
and terms and conditions. Set up good agreements between you
and the entity you work with. That limits your risks perfectly I think. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
And maybe pension as well? JOHAN LAFFRA: If you want to have
some sort of pension when you get old… …then you should set up something
for that as well. The same goes for insurances
for sickness and health. If you want to have something
if you become work invalid… …it might be wise to have something
set up for that. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: How did you set up
your network here in the Netherlands? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Network… I started to call. [ALL LAUGHING] AVISHAI TRABELSI: I just speak
to the phone with my special accent… …and I try to introduce myself and
the business and where I am coming from… …why it is important for me to realize it
and why I chose the Netherlands. After maybe not hundreds but tens of calls
I got the first client… …and from that moment
we got more and more… …and now we have nearly
a thousand businesses registered. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Wow, that is a lot. And did you visit any events? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Yes, we created our brand. We put the names in the events. We also try to find
the most influential people in our industry. We approached them a couple of times
until they agreed to hear us. And I think what we are trying to do
is also important for the environment… …but also commercially, so it is
win win win. A lot of people, including the government
are supporting such a project. It was easy for us to promote
the positive impact… …and not something that is
purely business and commercial. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL: Do you have
any tips for other entrepreneurs… …who want to start their business here? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Many, many. [ALL LAUGHING AND INDISTINCT CHATTER] AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Even if you have a lean budget… …it is important not to save
on all these administration things… …and to know exactly the rules
in order not to miss anything. So, take a good lawyer
and good accountant… …to make sure that you have
the right insurance… …because we are getting a lot of
information for instance involving privacy. You need to make sure
you can provide those services. So don’t try to do everything
by yourself. Focus on your business and have maybe
a local company… …help you with an expert to make it
easier, faster and safer. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Very good. Do you have any additional tips? JOHAN LAFFRA: I think he mentioned
the most important ones. And get help whenever you need it. So come to us, come to the tax office,
hire an accountant… …and try to get people close-by who can
help you in certain areas of expertise. That really helps a lot. Get out there and talk to people. And tell them that you exist,
tell them what you do. And go from there.
So, go out. AVISHAI TRABELSI:
I want to add one more thing. It is my experience from other countries.
It is another tip. Here in my experience, the authorities
in the Chamber of Commerce… …but even RVO and different parties
were very accessible. So, it wasn’t difficult to approach them
and ask questions. From my perspective in the past,
governmental parties were very difficult. They were not really accessible. So ask your questions
and put it on the table. Sometimes you will be surprised that
you will get quite efficient answers. This is important to try. Because you first think the government
is too difficult to approach. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
But it is not? AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Apparently not. At least not in my experience. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
That is good to know. Gentlemen, thank you so much
for all the information. AVISHAI TRABELSI:
Thank you very much. NADIA-JANE BRISTOLL:
Starting a business… …requires a number of steps
and key decisions. Once you have decided
upon your business legal form… …you can have your enterprise registered
at the local Chamber of Commerce. Whether you offer services or products,
you will do so at your own risk, expense… …and with full responsibility towards
third parties. Preparing well is the best way to start. The Dutch Chamber of Commerce
provides information on starting a business. You are definitely not on your own. Plenty of competent assistance is to be
found in the Netherlands business world. [CLOSING TUNE]

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