Doing Business in Netherlands
Netherlands or Holland, as we know it, is a small but strong economy in Europe. It lies at a strategic location, that helps it to connect to all the major countries in the world. It owns a world-class airport and top-ranked seaports, that act as a link not only for commuters travelling to different parts of the world; but also as an important logistics hub for global business houses. Almost 90% of the Dutch people speak English language which helps to create a friendly, open environment for customers and expats coming for business and tourism purpose to Netherlands. The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency offers assistance and free services that create an efficient and welcoming atmosphere for companies looking to start, expand or move their businesses here. It has a vibrant start-up ecosystem. Its world-class research institutes, supportive R&D tax credits and many strategic public-private partnerships make it a huge hub for R&D innovation; thus attracting a cream of students and working professionals looking for a smart choice to settle and create a career. It is also one of the most connected and wired countries in the world.
The Netherlands at a Glance
- The Netherlands is a low-lying country; with about 27 percent of its area, where 60 percent of its population live, below sea level. This distinctive feature led to the country’s name: in Dutch Nederland, in English The Netherlands – which literally mean “low lands.”
- The highest point in the Netherlands is Vaalserberg in the province of Limburg, i.e. 321 meters above sea level
- The lowest point in the Netherlands is Prince Alexander Polder, northeast of Rotterdam, i.e. 6.76 meters below sea level
- The Dutch are the tallest people in the world. The average Dutchman stands at 1.82 meters, while women average nearly 1.69 meters.
- The GDP per capita of Netherlands is € 34,661 (US$45,584) and Average income is € 32,500 gross.
- The Netherlands Ranked No. 8 in Europe by Bloomberg’s “Best Countries for Business,” is truly a world-class business destination.
- Holland’s strategic location at Europe’s front door provides the perfect springboard into the European market—with access to 95% of Europe’s most lucrative consumer markets.
- Holland’s supportive corporate tax structure, highly educated, multilingual workforce, and superior logistics and technology infrastructure, the small and mid-sized to Fortune 500 leaders—have chosen the Netherlands as their gateway to Europe.
Doing Business in Netherlands
Doing business with the Dutch is a straightforward and easy affair. After all, the Netherlands has a positive reputation for embracing commerce, openness and tolerance. But to get a head start in your new business dealings, heed these handy tips about doing business in Amsterdam.
Be polite but informal in Dutch business culture
Compared to the business world in North America, Asia and even other parts of Europe, the Dutch can be remarkably informal at work. It’s very natural for management to interact in a friendly manner with all levels of employees, with everyone referred to by their first names. It certainly doesn’t infer a lack of respect by an employee if they refer to their manager or even CEO by the first name – it merely reflects a traditional aspect of Dutch culture in which everyone is regarded as an equal. Naturally, upon greeting a new business acquaintance for the very first time, it remains polite to use the appropriate common title (Mr, Ms or Mrs).
Be direct and honest
Despite (or because of) the informality of Dutch business culture, there’s rarely any beating about the bush when it comes to sharing opinions – from management to interns, expressing yourself is part of the workplace. Highly skilled migrants who’re new to the Netherlands can be shocked by such directness; especially if they’re used to biting their tongue or softening their opinions, in order to avoid causing offense or conflict. But Dutch society and workplaces are typically consensus-driven, so don’t be offended by the opinions of others and don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
Get ready to meet and discuss
A big part of that consensus-driven Dutch workplace is meetings. Lots of meetings. Deals are struck over coffee meetings, lunch meetings and sometimes even regular office meetings. Some meetings are simply held to arrange further meetings. Just remember point two (above), so after some friendly chatter until the coffee arrives, be direct and clear. That way all parties will come away feeling satisfied.
Stick to whatever is agreed
Somewhat stating the obvious, but a key element of the Dutch directness is a faith in the promised outcome, and that a spoken agreement is as trustworthy as one on paper. With that in mind, going back on your word or attempting to renegotiate at the last minute is likely to severely hinder future business relations.
Do chat about the weather, food or drink, travel, sport, news, etc; do enquire about weekend and evening activities and ask how family members are doing; do accept invitations to borrels – after-work social occasions typically with beer and wine –where you can network as well as chat about non-work matters; do consider joining organised business networks in order to attend gatherings with other business professionals looking to meet, chat and explore new business opportunities.
Find more information about doing business in Netherlands :
Business in the Netherlands
Dutch Chamber of Commerce
Holland Trade & Invest
Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Foreign Investment Agency