Expat Entrepreneur: Margit Tera on running a business in the Netherlands
Estonian Margit Tera shares her secrets for running a successful business in the Netherlands.
Name: Margit Tera
City of residence: Hoofddorp
Name of company: Tera Languages
Date of company launch: 2006
Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
Tera Languages is a private language school for children. I provide English language courses to children aged 4 to 12 and one-to-one classes. For emigrating or relocating Dutch families I offer special courses as preparation before attending international schools. During spring-and summer holidays children are welcome to join “Springlish days” or Summer school.
What do you like about doing business in the Netherlands?
I think that Dutch people are open-minded and willing to try new things, which makes starting a business easier. At the same time they’re quite direct, so listening to their opinion really reflects on your weaknesses and strengths. My clients have given me a few good tips!
What do you find most frustrating about doing business in the Netherlands?
The most difficult part of the process has been setting up the business--filling in all the forms and finding information. I thought I spoke good Dutch until it was time to read contracts and tax laws…
What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
Understanding Dutch tax system hasn’t been easy, also finding the right premises and marketing my business has been a challenge.
How has the economic crisis affected your business?
It has affected me, as about half of my clients are Dutch expats who are planning to relocate. I guess many companies stopped sending their staff abroad to lower their costs, so I also have fewer students than a year ago.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in the Netherlands?
Find someone who has set up a business before--get in touch with them and you’ll save a lot of time and energy! I’m eternally thankful to a few friends who have helped me to set up the business; I couldn’t have done it without them. If you’re passionate about your business yourself, it will attract the clients. Be patient and enjoy your work!
How does running a business in the Netherlands compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
This is the first time I’m running a business, so I can’t make any comparisons.
What challenges did you face as an expat woman starting up a business in the Netherlands?
I don’t think starting a business in the Netherlands is more challenging to woman than it is to a man. You must have people to support you and just believe in yourself!
Would you like to add anything?
I think the secret to a successful business is having fun and enjoying the progress. If you’re not pleased and happy with your service/product, why should your clients be? Have fun!
Joining Expat Voices
To add your voice to Expat Voices in the Netherlands, simply download the Expat Voices questionnaire via this link and return it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . You can choose to take an Expat Artist, Expat Entrereneur or Expat Writer questionnaire if this is more relevant to your lifestyle. We'd love to hear what you have to say about life in the Netherlands!