Like most expats, I arrived in Amsterdam connected to a multinational company: in my case, it was Canon. That gives a lot of security and infrastructure, in terms of human resources support, money and even social life. Work may be hard, but many issues around living in another country are largely taken care of.
So what happens if your company has a lay-off and you are caught in the crossfire? It’s almost as if the umbilical cord to your protector is cut and you are out in the world like everybody else, only with less knowledge about how stuff is done.
The natural reaction may be to head home and take your chances on the job market. However, if you have any urge to set up your own company or try to turn your passion into a business, now might just be the time to do it.
“…IF YOU HAVE ANY URGE TO SET UP
YOUR OWN COMPANY…NOW MIGHT
JUST BE THE TIME TO DO IT. “
I faced exactly this situation three years ago and decided to try my hand as a writer and publisher. I’d studied English Literature at University, yet stumbled into busy corporate life before I knew it, so my joy in writing had never found its outlet. This seemed to be the best way to combine my passion with the business lessons I’d learned in a 20-year career in sales and marketing.
What I didn’t know then is that Amsterdam is the perfect place to create something new, with so much practical as well as emotional support to be found. Hardly surprising: Entrepreneurship is in the historical DNA of Amsterdam. People here love it when you try out a new idea with energy and commitment.
Language is no issue, as many of the resources and meetup groups are available in English, and Amsterdam’s natural ability to communicate kicks in big-time. Even visiting the Chamber of Commerce is a breeze, thanks to smooth processes and fluent language skills.
I also found a special element that the Dutch call the ‘gunfactor’. It’s an intangible feeling that locals here get when they see someone really going for their dream, and the result is that people offer help and contacts when you least expect it.
Those in the creative world in Amsterdam are helping each other by taking a less competitive stance than in most cultures. If you do well and they can be a small part of it, then everybody’s happy. It’s a supportive attitude that
breeds creativity and daring.
Here are just five of the resources that I found along the way to setting up DJB Pubs, and developing ‘Amsterdam… The Essence.’ Check a few of these out and you’ll find all you need to get started on your way to being your own boss and making your dream business a reality
DAVID BECKETT’S TOP 5 RESOURCES
FOR EXPAT ENTREPRENEURS:
1. Kamer van Koophandel, (Chamber of Commerce) KVK.nl
Your first stop for setting up a company if you want to bootstrap it and not outsource this to a tax adviser. They can
give you all the information you need on the administration side of establishing your own company in the Netherlands – very progressive and supportive.
2. Expat Center, Amstelveen (expatcenter.nl):
If you want to outsource the setup of your company, or get advice in many forms, this is a good starting point.
3. The Hub (amsterdam.the-hub.net)
A shared workspace with an emphasis on sustainability. They offer, cost-effective shared workspace and a series of highquality events – and you get connected to a huge network of entrepreneurs immediately on signing up.
4. Meetup groups;
Global Business Development Network (Globalbdn.com), and Open Coffee (meetup.com/ocamsterdam). You arrive,
someone will start talking to you and within a couple of hours you’ll leave with a bunch of contacts and a whole lot of
renewed energy. Both English speaking.
5. Startup Weekend (amsterdam.startupweekend.org)
If you want to test out your ideas, this could be the place for you. It’s a hands-on, intensive weekend where you’ll meet
with loads of others on the same track as you.
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David Beckett has lived in Amsterdam for 14 years and is the author of ‘Amsterdam… The Essence’: available in print and via the iBooks store for iPad. His new book, ‘Three Minute Presentation’, will be launched in July. He is also creator of the Kitchen of Ideas©.