Checklist: from holiday daydream to owning your own business

While basking in the Italian sun, you sample some of the best limoncello you have ever tasted. Walking around Dubai, you come across the most gorgeous fabrics. You start dreaming about how wonderful it would be if these products were also available in the Netherlands. You keep thinking about these products after returning to the Netherlands. You spot a niche in the market and decide it is yours for the taking.

Start by conducting market research and determine whether there really is a niche in the market, so you can discover whether your plans are viable. If the results of your research are positive, you can get started on this checklist right away. The checklist contains the five main points to keep in mind in realising your holiday daydream. Once you have checked off all the items, nothing stands in the way of starting your own business.

1. Finding suppliers

You may have done some legwork already, speaking to a potential supplier during your holiday. If not, now is the time to find one. Decide in advance what your requirements are for a prospective supplier, for example, the speed of delivery and terms of supply, prepayment, or payment after receipt of the products. You can find foreign suppliers at trade fairs and exhibitions, through government networks, and other organisations or professional directories. Be sure to vet your foreign business partners. You should check, for example, whether they are listed in a foreign register.

Requesting samples

Be sure to ask your supplier for a sample in advance. You can use this sample to check whether the product meets your quality requirements and the statutory product requirements. You should do this before spending a large amount of money and risk getting stuck with a load of products you are unable to sell.

2. Checking laws and regulations

If you market a product in the Netherlands, special product requirements apply. Any products you buy in another EU Member State must comply with the European requirements for product safety, health, and environment. In some cases, additional requirements might apply to goods originating from other EU countries. This is the case, for example, if you import a spirit such as limoncello. If you import products from outside the EU, check whether you are permitted to sell the products in the Netherlands, and what requirements apply.

3. Arranging transport

There is more to transporting your purchased goods than merely getting them from A to B, including storage, transshipment, shipping documents, and customs documents. Sort everything out at an early stage, preferably during the quotation stage. Because transportation involves additional costs and risks. Read how to manage international transportation.

The checklist to go from  holiday daydream to business owner consists of:

  1. Finding a supplier
  2. Checking rules and regulations
  3. Arrange transportation
  4. Registering your business
  5. Finding customers

4. Registering your business

If you are involved in importing and selling products, you will likely be required to register with the Chamber of Commerce. The law states that you can be considered to operate a business if you independently provide goods or services to others with the intent to make a profit. If you prefer to test the waters first, you also have the option to start a part-time business as a sideline to your main job or studies. Decide what is the right time to register and check what you need to sort out. Good preparation gets you off to the right start!

5. Finding customers

In order to be successful, you need customers. But who are these customers, exactly? Where do you find them, and why would they choose you as opposed to a competitor? Do some research, and decide on your approach using a marketing plan to guide you.

Part of your marketing plan is promoting your business. Tell people you know about your product, because your friends, neighbours, and family members are your best ambassadors. Post messages on social media which are of interest to your target audience, attend networking events and send a press release to the local newspaper.

Turning their holiday daydream into their own business

Elaine van Beek and Altagracia Kotzebue were inspired to start their own business while on holiday – they share their experiences in this video. You can turn on English subtitles in the settings menu.

When your holiday dream becomes your business

Further preparation

Can you tick the items off your checklist and realise your dream by starting your own business? Next, do your due diligence and read more about starting your business and becoming a professional importer. You can also sign up for the email series Successfully starting your own businessand Successfully starting an import business (in Dutch). Are you still not sure you can realise your holiday daydream? Talk to one of our advisers. Contact the KVK Advice Team on 088 585 22 22.