Doing Business in the Netherlands
Financing for Start-ups
There are various avenues through which you may acquire funding for your business, including:
When starting a business, you may be your own investor through using your own finances or your assets as collateral. Using your own finances to start your business may prove to investors and bankers that you have a long-term commitment to your project and that you are ready to take risks.
Money loaned by the 3 Fs: family, friends and fools
When borrowing from friends and family, you should be aware that:
- Family and friends rarely have much capital
- They may want to have equity in your business
- A business relationship with family or friends should never be taken lightly
- You should establish formal contracts with payback terms and conditions
- Family and friends should be made aware of the risks involved in starting a business.
Venture capitalists and Business Angels
Venture capitalists will assume an equity position in your company, in exchange for providing you with the capital requirements necessary to start your business. This will involve giving up some of your ownership or equity in the business to an external party, i.e. the venture capitalist. Venture capitalists will generally expect a healthy return on their investment, however, since venture capitalists invest in the company, they tend to provide relevant experience and knowledge for your business to successfully grow.
Similar to venture capitalists are business Angels, who are generally wealthy individuals or retired company executives who invest directly in start-ups. Business angels are often leaders/experts in their field, and generally contribute finances, their experience and network of contacts to the business relationship. Business angels tend to finance early stage businesses, however, in exchange for the risks they incur, they reserve the right to supervise the company's management practices. In concrete terms, this often involves a seat on the board of directors and an assurance of transparency.
Business angels tend to keep a low profile, however, to get in touch with a business angel you may have to contact specialized associations or search websites.
Go for example to Business Angels Netwerken Nederland, where all networks are connected which act as intermediary or matchmaker between investors and entrepreneurs. On the website you can find which networks are connected and what their aims are.
You can also take a look at Techleap, where you can find an overview of investors (and type of investors).
Before agreeing to work with Venture Capitalists and Business Angels, be sure to acquire professional advice in order to to safeguard your interests.
Business incubators (or "accelerators") generally provide support for new businesses in various stages of development, assistance may include access to a premises, combined with administrative, logistical and technical resources. For example, an incubator may share the use of their laboratories so that a new business may develop and test its products at a cheaper rate before beginning production.
Generally, the incubation phase may last up to two years. Once the product is ready, the business usually leaves the incubator's premises to enter its industrial production phase and is on its own.
Have a look at our mentoring page to access information about business incubators in The Netherlands.
Government grants and subsidies
Government agencies provide financing such as grants and subsidies that may be available to your business. Acquiring grants and subsidies may be a relatively tough process due to the nature of industry competition and the general criteria necessary for such grants and subsidies. In most cases, grants require you to match the funds you are being given, and this amount varies greatly depending on the granter.
Here you can find an overview of 9 subsidies and grants for entrepreneurs.
Bank loans are the most commonly used source of funding for small and medium-sized businesses. Generally, bankers will look for organizations with a sound track record and credit. When applying for a bank loan, having a good idea is generally not enough, it has to be substantiated by a solid business plan.
Start-up loans will also typically require a personal guarantee from the entrepreneurs.
More information on funding can be found in the the DIFME toolkit Module 2.
Sources of Alternative Finance
Check our DIFME THEMATIC EVENT 2 on our DIFME VIDEO page to learn more from the experts.