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European Fastlane Business Thread

monfii

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Hey,

It's me, Monfii.

It appeared to me today that the context and culture between the US and Europe are strikingly different. A bunch of material I found in the books and on this forum has proven invaluable, but not all advice can apply in the context of doing business in Europe, for two main reasons.

1. Laws and regulations: you can't come to Europe and just open your business. You first need to make sure you have diplomas, authorizations, registered your activity to the correct agency that will control you, enough funds, the correct company structure, the scale of a dragon, and the blood of a unicorn.

2. Culture: US companies are ruthlessly efficient in working with people that will deliver value for them and don't care about diplomas. Americans like what is new and are generally oriented towards buying stuff and having huge houses, huge cars, huge phones, etc. Americans want innovation, and want to be the first ones in their neighborhood to get the latest technology. That's why GAFAM companies are all American, and none of them are European. That's why Americans are so productive, and why everyone wants to sell in America. But Europe is different. People do much more stuff by themselves (from lawn care to marketing services) and buy much less in general. We are not as creative and innovative at the entrepreneurship level. After all, Europe is mainly known to be the leading authority in terms of regulation, not in terms of ease of business, or innovation (although Denmark does not score badly).

Applying fastlane thinking and US business principles don't work as smoothly in Europe. Almost no one freelances, one-person companies are much harder to create and much more weird to come by if not in the context of a craft (chocolate-making, plumbers, electricians...). The cultural and regulatory business context was built for behemoths that can pay for lawyers to comply with the law.

The result is that doing business in Europe is a double-edged sword. It's much harder to get started because the environment does not want you to start. Companies will be scared to do business with you because Europeans don't like to be disrupted, nor what is new, even if it is better. Furthermore, the slowlane is comfy, you get 1 or 2 months of holidays per year, free healthcare, parental leave, and a company car. There is no "European dream", and people will be angry at you for even wanting to be rich. The law forces you to invest 20 000 euros to open a stupid consulting company, and you get taxed for only thinking about opening a business.

That being said, competition is not as intense as in America. If you know what you are doing and apply US ruthlessness to your competitors, you can go ahead and dominate your market. Just don't become a monopoly or the EU Commission will come for you (unless your name is Airbus).

So we opened this thread to give European entrepreneurs the chance to ask European-related questions. Topics are:

  • European opportunities: Europe, despite being a regulatory pain in the a$$, is also the biggest single market in the world! Get access to almost 500 million customers instantly! Become a government contractor (they have big budgets), sell alcohol to 16 year-olds, or move people from country to country by bus or plane. You can't sell guns though, sorry.
  • European sourcing: you thought you had to source products in China? Try doing so in Turkey, Ukraine, or better, Bulgaria.
  • European regulations and laws (basics)
  • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
  • European culture
  • Best European countries to start a business
  • Best European countries for taxes
  • American businesses that do not have European equivalents and how to start them
  • European business resources
  • Anything else related to doing business in Europe (whether buying or selling).

Voila!

I hope Europeans can help each other and build trade routes inside their own continent instead of reaching for China or the US.

We did invent capitalism and entrepreneurship, after all ; )

Monfii
 

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The Racing Driver

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That being said, competition is not as intense as in America. If you know what you are doing and apply US ruthlessness to your competitors, you can go ahead and dominate your market. Just don't become a monopoly or the EU Commission will come for you (unless your name is Airbus).

At the end of 2020, I became an EU citizen and moved to Portugal. Living here for several months, I can say that you can really see and feel the more relaxed attitude to business here compared to the US and Asia (where I used to live).

I'm curious, can we talk about the Brexit and its impact on the EU? Do you think it will be beneficial to the UK or Europe? Are any opportunities that may arise from it?

I ask this because I'm also a UK resident and was wondering if there are any business benefits to being in a European country, but not in the EU? Like Switzerland, the UK and Norway.
 

monfii

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I'm curious, can we talk about the Brexit and its impact on the EU? Do you think it will be beneficial to the UK or Europe? Are any opportunities that may arise from it?

Of course. I think it's a lose-lose game. The French lost their market to export dairy products, and the UK lost their market to export fish.

It's just an example. There are millions of other products concerned.

I have read furthermore that x% of UK businesses had given up on their EU customers because exporting had suddenly become so damn complicated and expensive.

So here are the opportunities: make yourself whatever used to be imported, and find new markets for whatever used to be exported. I think the UK would be really open to start trading with anyone which is not EU. They seemed to be very oriented towards countries they had historical ties with (US, India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, etc).

This is kinda stupid though, since the UK is so close to Europe. So if you can manage to find a way to simply export goods from Britain to the EU, your services would be greatly appreciated.

For the EU, the opportunities will mainly be to find new markets to export their products. I doubt anything Britain used to export is not already made by someone else in the EU (instead of importing from the UK, you may need to import from Spain for example).

In the end, I think the EU is losing much less than Britain, due to size on one hand, and due to the fact that people, companies and agencies moved out of the UK to the EU, and not the other way around.

The big winner though, is China. China and Britain have extremely severed historical and economic ties (think HSBC). They have enough economic power to influence UK GDP by several points. The pressure they can now apply on the UK will be much bigger since the UK lost both diplomatic and economic support from the EU.

So there are opportunities, but the losses are much bigger. The British forgot it's not 1850 anymore.
 

The Racing Driver

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Of course. I think it's a lose-lose game. The French lost their market to export dairy products, and the UK lost their market to export fish.

It's just an example. There are millions of other products concerned.

I have read furthermore that x% of UK businesses had given up on their EU customers because exporting had suddenly become so damn complicated and expensive.

So here are the opportunities: make yourself whatever used to be imported, and find new markets for whatever used to be exported. I think the UK would be really open to start trading with anyone which is not EU. They seemed to be very oriented towards countries they had historical ties with (US, India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, etc).

This is kinda stupid though, since the UK is so close to Europe. So if you can manage to find a way to simply export goods from Britain to the EU, your services would be greatly appreciated.

For the EU, the opportunities will mainly be to find new markets to export their products. I doubt anything Britain used to export is not already made by someone else in the EU (instead of importing from the UK, you may need to import from Spain for example).

In the end, I think the EU is losing much less than Britain, due to size on one hand, and due to the fact that people, companies and agencies moved out of the UK to the EU, and not the other way around.

The big winner though, is China. China and Britain have extremely severed historical and economic ties (think HSBC). They have enough economic power to influence UK GDP by several points. The pressure they can now apply on the UK will be much bigger since the UK lost both diplomatic and economic support from the EU.

So there are opportunities, but the losses are much bigger. The British forgot it's not 1850 anymore.
Good points. Having lived in HK for most of my life, I can really say that Sino-British relations have really reached a new low.

I know quite a few people living in the UK who are considering leaving. Lots want to retire somewhere warmer like Spain or Portugal. Maybe I can help them with that.

One of the biggest challenges (or opportunity for multi-lingual speakers) here in Europe is dealing with the various languages. Some languages like French and German are spoken in various countries here, whilst Portuguese for instance, is spoken mainly in Portugal, and by very few people percentage wise. I'm learning a bit of Spanish on the side (mainly for travel to Latin America), but it could be useful for doing business in Spain.
 

monfii

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Maybe I can help them with that.

Most def. Help them find a place to live and a club to meet like-minded old people. Tell them about how taxes would now work or connect them to someone competent that knows these sorts of things and get your commission.

When I was leaving in Poland, I had found a company making banks out of helping foreigners settling in Warsaw. I suggested my friend in Colombia to do the same for Bogota as she was looking to escape the slowlane.

Honestly, it is easy to do, and the value you provide is enormous: trust, and simplicity.

-----------------

No offense but the UK is the worst country in the world on my list, closely followed by France and New Zealand. I dont know who the hell would want to live there.

-------------------

Yes, languages is definitely a barrier, and this is GOOD as it decreases ease of entry. While you can easily do business in English in the Netherlands, good luck doing so in Germany or Spain.

That being said, just hire a translator and go ahead. That guy from Nomad Capitalist said to hire an attorney and create yourself a network this way. Not a bad idea.
 

Hadrian

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Interesting thread. Will be following.

I don't know much about economics but I know Brexit may well lead to the breakup of the UK in the next 25 years... Scotland will be re-joining the EU, maybe Wales too, and in Northern Ireland there are now more Catholics than Protestants and they will want a united Ireland when they reach voting age. It's gonna get messy!

I know the EU council and parliament look like a series of lifeless terminator style Beaurocrats... but for me the EU is the place to be because its about being young, mobile and cool and being able to travel and work wherever you like and enjoy a continent full of adventures... that's what the EU really means to us Europeans!

Business-wise Ireland isn't too bad to get started with very little pre-requirements and lots of start up courses, grants and assistance.. but that's where it ends.. they cant see anything on a HUGE scale... hence the guys from Stripe (Worlds youngest Billionaires) were laughed at and forced to head for the USA....

Maybe I shoulda done that too... :bulb:
 
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DMNinja

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Following @monfii . I have great respect for what you're trying to do in this thread, which also rang a bell imediately, since I thought "Things are indeed done different in the US". I do want to start something (that I coincidentally just posted here) and I'm so glad to have caught this being posted at its inception.
Being a new entrepreneur, I have so many questions, and I don't want you to spend your time answering, so I'll ask the most pertinent ones:

  • European sourcing: I feel there's a market for EU-manufactured products in general. So what do you mean by your statement in the OP?
  • Where can I learn for myself about the following
    • European regulations and laws (basics)
    • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
    • Best European countries to start a business
    • Best European countries for taxes
  • European business resources
Thank you for the time, work and effort you've put into this forum.
-Constantine
 

Madame Peccato

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Do NOT ever come to Italy to do business. It saddens me to say so, because it's a great place for everything else (high quality of life, most places are beautiful, people are friendly), but the bureaucratic system + insane taxes are going to choke out anyone who doesn't have a massive money supply to burn through.
 

jpn

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Hey,

It's me, Monfii.

It appeared to me today that the context and culture between the US and Europe are strikingly different. A bunch of material I found in the books and on this forum has proven invaluable, but not all advice can apply in the context of doing business in Europe, for two main reasons.

1. Laws and regulations: you can't come to Europe and just open your business. You first need to make sure you have diplomas, authorizations, registered your activity to the correct agency that will control you, enough funds, the correct company structure, the scale of a dragon, and the blood of a unicorn.
This hasn't been my experience and varies country by country. In my EU country I can start a business for 25 euro in 15 min. Or a corporation for a few hundred euro in a day or 2. Compared to most of the world pretty easy.

Some sectors may be harder, but thats the same in every country. Including most states in the US.
2. Culture: US companies are ruthlessly efficient in working with people that will deliver value for them and don't care about diplomas. Americans like what is new and are generally oriented towards buying stuff and having huge houses, huge cars, huge phones, etc. Americans want innovation, and want to be the first ones in their neighborhood to get the latest technology. That's why GAFAM companies are all American, and none of them are European. That's why Americans are so productive, and why everyone wants to sell in America. But Europe is different. People do much more stuff by themselves (from lawn care to marketing services) and buy much less in general. We are not as creative and innovative at the entrepreneurship level. After all, Europe is mainly known to be the leading authority in terms of regulation, not in terms of ease of business, or innovation (although Denmark does not score badly).
There are many companies in both the US and EU that care about the value you deliver. A degree can be a filtering mechanism to make it easier to find people that can deliver value. But if you can demonstrate that you can deliver massive value, a lot of companies don't care about your degrees.

The US has a stronger ecosystem when it comes to bringing innovation to scale. But at the entrepreneur level, I don't really see a massive difference. The (countries in the) EU innovates plenty, but there is less experience/skill in bringing it to scale. Also scaling within the EU tends to be harder due to linguistic differences and different preferences.

A lot of this sounds like excuses by people who've never actually started a business.

EDIT
I'm coming across as negative perhaps. I really like the idea of the thread: how can Europeans help each other. What bothers me is the complaining about how "hard" it is. It hasn't been my experience and I think focussing on "how hard" it is vs how to get it done is the actual problem.
 
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jpn

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  • Where can I learn for myself about the following
    • European regulations and laws (basics)
Unless you go into an obviously regulated industry, you don't have to think too much about these. Otherwise Google is your friend. All relevant laws should be published in every EU language. And a lot of partners you'd work with would help you too. For example, if you're dealing with food, you'll probably use a co-packer who would help you figure out the right regulations.
    • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
Get an accountant/bookkeeper. They will fix this for you, or advise you how to do it correctly yourself.
  • Best European countries to start a business
The country where YOU as an entrepreneur have the highest chance of success. Where you have, or can create, a network, speak the language, understand the people. It's easier for me to start a business in my home country because I know people there. I speak the language and understand how to deal with the people. That matters most. Start where you have the highest chance of success. It may mean that is more expensive to register a business, but it will make it easier to be successful and solve problems as they arise.
  • Best European countries for taxes
Same as the previous answer. Start where you can be successful, tax optimization is for later.
  • European business resources
If you're doing something innovative, consult with a "subsidy advisory" there are a lot of National and EU funds to stimulate innovation and no-cure/no-pay agencies to help you apply for them. You can also apply yourself of course, but those agencies can point out the opportunities for you.
 

monfii

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Following @monfii . I have great respect for what you're trying to do in this thread, which also rang a bell imediately, since I thought "Things are indeed done different in the US". I do want to start something (that I coincidentally just posted here) and I'm so glad to have caught this being posted at its inception.
Being a new entrepreneur, I have so many questions, and I don't want you to spend your time answering, so I'll ask the most pertinent ones:

  • European sourcing: I feel there's a market for EU-manufactured products in general. So what do you mean by your statement in the OP?
  • Where can I learn for myself about the following
    • European regulations and laws (basics)
    • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
    • Best European countries to start a business
    • Best European countries for taxes
  • European business resources
Thank you for the time, work and effort you've put into this forum.
-Constantine


Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I can't guarantee everything you are about to read is correct. Do your own research, please.

Hey!

1. What I mean in my first post is that there isn't only China in this world. You have many different manufacturers of many different products in many different countries, in and out of the EU.
Turkey is a massive producer of home appliances and clothes, for example. Why going to China and not sourcing there? Now I am going to be honest with you, I don't exactly know what else is made in what EU countries, which saddens me a lot. It's something I want to learn in the future. I think many manufacturers in Belgium at least, deal with China while they could be dealing with someone else, closer to them. I have found a couple of EU B2B marketplaces but nothing of the likes of Alibaba.

Check this out: Medium

I personally think that there are billions to make in intra-EU import-export because it is super inefficient. Trucks drive half-empty, the existing B2B and B2C marketplaces suck, and i know for a fact that the Greeks export their olives to be sold in Spain, and that the Spanish export theirs to the rest of Europe.

Another story that highlights how motivated Europeans are to do business:
Two weeks ago, I sent an email asking for a list of Spanish manufacturers to the representatives of the Spanish chamber of commerce in Belgium, telling them I wanted to "import Spanish-made products and sell them in Belgium".

Do you know what they answered?

"We can surely provide you with such a list, but you have to pay 100 euros for administrative fees".

Euhm...no? How's that for an answer?


2. The best is to travel. However, I'll help you out:

  • European regulations and laws (basics): What are we talking about here? Do you mean sourcing products within the EU trade zone, or from without? It all depends on the trade treaty the EU has with that country. Now, there are a couple of things to know here.
    • In terms of regulations, the world is European. Because the EU market is so huge, producers apply EU hygiene regulations to their worldwide orders because it is easier. Microsoft decided to apply RGPD rules worldwide for example, and you can find many of these examples. Sometimes though, it's not the case. When the EU signed the CETA with Canada, Canadians started brand new beef farms destined exclusively to the EU market (hormone free, etc). I know there are control, and I think that producers on an industrial scale must register to export in the EU, but I am really not sure of this, so better check it out.
Believe it or not, the EU is not the bureaucratic elephant many believe it is (i know, i am currently working there). They do a good job simplifying their own policies and making their communication as clear as possible. The only problem is that they suck at marketing, and so the GOLD content they produce does not get out, on one hand because they dont know how to communicate, and on the other because it doesn't interest mainstream medias.

This website is a good start: Negotiations and agreements - Trade - European Commission

If you are sourcing products inside the EU itself, not to worry about laws and regulations since you have the four-movement freedoms: freedom of people, goods, services, and money.
  • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
You need to be familiar with VAT in general. Selling B2B and B2C is different for example.

Basically, you pay VAT once your export to a country reaches more than x euros per year.

Let's say you are selling chairs to consumers. If you live in Spain and sell your chairs in Spain, you pay VAT in Spain. If you sell two chairs in France (online), just consider these people like if they were Spanish and pay VAT in Spain.

If you start selling thousands of chairs every months in France, the French government will ask you to get a VAT number in France and you ll have to pay VAT to the French government.

Check this out: Cross-border VAT rates in Europe

  • Best European countries to start a business
Rule number 1: don't go to France (although they are improving).
Rule number 2: Look at the ease of doing business index: Ease of doing business index - Wikipedia

However, the best thing to do is to travel to that country. After two weeks or so of walking around and asking questions, you ll have a good idea of how really easy it is to start your business.

This is how I considered starting a hostel in Latvia: I talked to the owner. And this is also how I didn't start anything in Poland, but the law does not suit small businesses (but is awesome for big corporations) and the financial system is completely remote. But I knew that because I went to live there.

For any online company, I strongly recommend to chcck out the Estonian e-rsidency program: How to Start a Company Online in EU | e-Residency
  • Best European countries for taxes
The Nomad Capitalist blog has good infos, but you can learn a mountain of info with just google.

From what I know, Bulgaria is awesome, because corporate tax is 10%, personal tax is 10%, dividend tax is 5%, no tax on capital gains, and to become fiscal resident, you only need to spend 183 days in the country, or buy a property (which you can get for 10 000 euros or less).

3. European business resources:

I know what I know because I learned a bit at uni but i also read myself A LOT. I can't say what exactly, I just dived into the rabbit hole and read blogs, websites, articles, newspapers, etc.

Check edx or coursera, maybe they have some courses on doing business in the EU. But to be fair, there is a lot of resources online, probably enough.

The best, once again, is to travel and talk to people. Talking to locals and business people will give you info I'd be happy to pay for if people let me. For example, when I was in Colombia, I was talking to the owner of the hostel, that guy was crazy, he had several hostels and was in the export of fruits. He bought fruits by the tons from farmers that didn't know better and sold them to the US for profits.

When I was in Poland, I was talking to the manager of the hostel (once again...) and he was ready to hire me to do SEO and marketing for his website in exchange to let me sleep for free in the hostel. I turned it down cuz i ultimately found a job.
 

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monfii

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What bothers me is the complaining about how "hard" it is. It hasn't been my experience and I think focussing on "how hard" it is vs how to get it done is the actual problem.

Isn't "getting it done" what I am trying to do?
So we opened this thread to give European entrepreneurs the chance to ask European-related questions.

This hasn't been my experience and varies country by country. In my EU country I can start a business for 25 euro in 15 min. Or a corporation for a few hundred euro in a day or 2. Compared to most of the world pretty easy.

Yes, the Netherlands is one of the best countries to do business in. That doesn't mean other countries are equally good.
 

DMNinja

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Thank you for your replies!
From what I read most doesn't apply to the market I'll be doing business in, but it was a great insight overall.

@jpn is absolutely right. I am worrying about things that are irrelevant at this point. Cyprus is a well-established place to build a business in. Tons of Russian corporations have moved there, due to favorable tax laws. So there's no need to bother myself.

@monfii thank you for the disclaimer. I wasn't looking for pretty and packaged answers anyway :p What you've pointed out to me will be of use if/ when I want to release a product though. This thread, if nothing else, is a place that EU-Based entrepreneurship can be discussed. EU has its own sets of challenges and discussing them helps us see things from different perspectives. After essentially finishing the cents commandments in unscripted (again), I can see that it's a sound business to be in!
 

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Djioul

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Hey,

It's me, Monfii.

It appeared to me today that the context and culture between the US and Europe are strikingly different. A bunch of material I found in the books and on this forum has proven invaluable, but not all advice can apply in the context of doing business in Europe, for two main reasons.

1. Laws and regulations: you can't come to Europe and just open your business. You first need to make sure you have diplomas, authorizations, registered your activity to the correct agency that will control you, enough funds, the correct company structure, the scale of a dragon, and the blood of a unicorn.

2. Culture: US companies are ruthlessly efficient in working with people that will deliver value for them and don't care about diplomas. Americans like what is new and are generally oriented towards buying stuff and having huge houses, huge cars, huge phones, etc. Americans want innovation, and want to be the first ones in their neighborhood to get the latest technology. That's why GAFAM companies are all American, and none of them are European. That's why Americans are so productive, and why everyone wants to sell in America. But Europe is different. People do much more stuff by themselves (from lawn care to marketing services) and buy much less in general. We are not as creative and innovative at the entrepreneurship level. After all, Europe is mainly known to be the leading authority in terms of regulation, not in terms of ease of business, or innovation (although Denmark does not score badly).

Applying fastlane thinking and US business principles don't work as smoothly in Europe. Almost no one freelances, one-person companies are much harder to create and much more weird to come by if not in the context of a craft (chocolate-making, plumbers, electricians...). The cultural and regulatory business context was built for behemoths that can pay for lawyers to comply with the law.

The result is that doing business in Europe is a double-edged sword. It's much harder to get started because the environment does not want you to start. Companies will be scared to do business with you because Europeans don't like to be disrupted, nor what is new, even if it is better. Furthermore, the slowlane is comfy, you get 1 or 2 months of holidays per year, free healthcare, parental leave, and a company car. There is no "European dream", and people will be angry at you for even wanting to be rich. The law forces you to invest 20 000 euros to open a stupid consulting company, and you get taxed for only thinking about opening a business.

That being said, competition is not as intense as in America. If you know what you are doing and apply US ruthlessness to your competitors, you can go ahead and dominate your market. Just don't become a monopoly or the EU Commission will come for you (unless your name is Airbus).

So we opened this thread to give European entrepreneurs the chance to ask European-related questions. Topics are:

  • European opportunities: Europe, despite being a regulatory pain in the a$$, is also the biggest single market in the world! Get access to almost 500 million customers instantly! Become a government contractor (they have big budgets), sell alcohol to 16 year-olds, or move people from country to country by bus or plane. You can't sell guns though, sorry.
  • European sourcing: you thought you had to source products in China? Try doing so in Turkey, Ukraine, or better, Bulgaria.
  • European regulations and laws (basics)
  • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
  • European culture
  • Best European countries to start a business
  • Best European countries for taxes
  • American businesses that do not have European equivalents and how to start them
  • European business resources
  • Anything else related to doing business in Europe (whether buying or selling).

Voila!

I hope Europeans can help each other and build trade routes inside their own continent instead of reaching for China or the US.

We did invent capitalism and entrepreneurship, after all ; )

Monfii
Thanks for the interesting thread. Of course there are huge opportunities and know-how in Europe !

Just a question: why do wou think that France is one of the worst places in EU to start a business ? I know that the tax system is not so encouraging, the admin procedure are complicated as hell, and the mentality is... French, right. :smile2:
As I am about to start a business in France, I am curious to see your explanation.
 

Domgee

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Hey,

It's me, Monfii.

It appeared to me today that the context and culture between the US and Europe are strikingly different. A bunch of material I found in the books and on this forum has proven invaluable, but not all advice can apply in the context of doing business in Europe, for two main reasons.

1. Laws and regulations: you can't come to Europe and just open your business. You first need to make sure you have diplomas, authorizations, registered your activity to the correct agency that will control you, enough funds, the correct company structure, the scale of a dragon, and the blood of a unicorn.

2. Culture: US companies are ruthlessly efficient in working with people that will deliver value for them and don't care about diplomas. Americans like what is new and are generally oriented towards buying stuff and having huge houses, huge cars, huge phones, etc. Americans want innovation, and want to be the first ones in their neighborhood to get the latest technology. That's why GAFAM companies are all American, and none of them are European. That's why Americans are so productive, and why everyone wants to sell in America. But Europe is different. People do much more stuff by themselves (from lawn care to marketing services) and buy much less in general. We are not as creative and innovative at the entrepreneurship level. After all, Europe is mainly known to be the leading authority in terms of regulation, not in terms of ease of business, or innovation (although Denmark does not score badly).

Applying fastlane thinking and US business principles don't work as smoothly in Europe. Almost no one freelances, one-person companies are much harder to create and much more weird to come by if not in the context of a craft (chocolate-making, plumbers, electricians...). The cultural and regulatory business context was built for behemoths that can pay for lawyers to comply with the law.

The result is that doing business in Europe is a double-edged sword. It's much harder to get started because the environment does not want you to start. Companies will be scared to do business with you because Europeans don't like to be disrupted, nor what is new, even if it is better. Furthermore, the slowlane is comfy, you get 1 or 2 months of holidays per year, free healthcare, parental leave, and a company car. There is no "European dream", and people will be angry at you for even wanting to be rich. The law forces you to invest 20 000 euros to open a stupid consulting company, and you get taxed for only thinking about opening a business.

That being said, competition is not as intense as in America. If you know what you are doing and apply US ruthlessness to your competitors, you can go ahead and dominate your market. Just don't become a monopoly or the EU Commission will come for you (unless your name is Airbus).

So we opened this thread to give European entrepreneurs the chance to ask European-related questions. Topics are:

  • European opportunities: Europe, despite being a regulatory pain in the a$$, is also the biggest single market in the world! Get access to almost 500 million customers instantly! Become a government contractor (they have big budgets), sell alcohol to 16 year-olds, or move people from country to country by bus or plane. You can't sell guns though, sorry.
  • European sourcing: you thought you had to source products in China? Try doing so in Turkey, Ukraine, or better, Bulgaria.
  • European regulations and laws (basics)
  • European accounting and VAT system for cross-country selling (basics)
  • European culture
  • Best European countries to start a business
  • Best European countries for taxes
  • American businesses that do not have European equivalents and how to start them
  • European business resources
  • Anything else related to doing business in Europe (whether buying or selling).

Voila!

I hope Europeans can help each other and build trade routes inside their own continent instead of reaching for China or the US.

We did invent capitalism and entrepreneurship, after all ; )

Monfii
Brilliant. Happy to provide any assistance with anyone interested in doing business in Switzerland. Extremely easy to set up a business. Only question is the amount of capital available to start. i have read both books and completely agree that there are different market dynamics in NA vs Europe.
 

monfii

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Thanks for the interesting thread. Of course there are huge opportunities and know-how in Europe !

Just a question: why do wou think that France is one of the worst places in EU to start a business ? I know that the tax system is not so encouraging, the admin procedure are complicated as hell, and the mentality is... French, right. :smile2:
As I am about to start a business in France, I am curious to see your explanation.
Well, yes, basically, you outlined it.

We would have hoped that the current gvnmt would be a bit more pro-business, but it has not been the case as much as what was anticipated.

If you add the monstrous regulations, the unions, the frequent protests paralyzing cities, the political intelligentsia promising to tax the rich at every election, the very-high minimum salary, the resistance to change and innovation from the consumers, and the natural distaste for rich people...well, that's a lot!

We could also cite Brexit which is going to impact the economy + few French people speak English (although it's better now) so it's harder to go international.

Why would you cope with this when Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland are literally next door?

I recently heard that RTL was selling M6 and co cuz the French media market had become too regulated....

I think France is great for massive companies: Carrefour, Airbus, Total, LVMH, Kering, Bouygues, Air Liquide, and that guy* that bought Canal+ some years back, forgot his name now....

Edit: I forgot the gilet jaune and the antifa movements that come destroy your window every saturday lol and the vegans that attack butchers in their butchery....ok i'll stop here, sorry

Second edit: Vincent Bollore!
 
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The Racing Driver

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Brilliant. Happy to provide any assistance with anyone interested in doing business in Switzerland. Extremely easy to set up a business. Only question is the amount of capital available to start. i have read both books and completely agree that there are different market dynamics in NA vs Europe.

@Domgee Is it easy for EU citizens to move to Switzerland and start a business? Because I know EU citizens need some kind of permit to stay there long term. What are the capital requirements to start like?

I think Switzerland is a lovely, clean and safe country, but I find all the differences in rules and taxes between the Cantons a bit confusing.
 

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Thanks for the complete picture. Unfortunately, you got a lot of things right with this description.

I would also add the education system which is from the Middle-Age and doesn't encourage you to develop yourself after you finished your degree(s). "School gives you all the tools. Now that you are done with studying, close these books and just be productive. Don't worry, you know everything!"
If you add this to the "Engineering school's Mafia", you get a system which is closed and elitist. That's the main reason that I moved to Switzerland after my diplomas. Impossible to find a job with a pure University degree (even if I had previous industry-related experiences).

Well, yes, basically, you outlined it.

We would have hoped that the current gvnmt would be a bit more pro-business, but it has not been the case as much as what was anticipated.
Not at all... I was also expecting it as "Start-Up nation" was one of their keywords.
If you add the monstrous regulations, the unions, the frequent protests paralyzing cities, the political intelligentsia promising to tax the rich at every election, the very-high minimum salary, the resistance to change and innovation from the consumers, and the natural distaste for rich people...well, that's a lot!
Thanks for stopping the list here ! :happy:

Why would you cope with this when Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland are literally next door?
I am strongly considering considering moving my company to Switzerland. Now it is located in France as it was founded by my Dad a few years ago.
I am checking and comparing both solutions right now.

Edit: I forgot the gilet jaune and the antifa movements that come destroy your window every saturday lol and the vegans that attack butchers in their butchery....ok i'll stop here, sorry
It's a never-ending list, I agree.
Anyway, there are some advantages of being in France and as it is my native country, I know it much better than Switzerland (even if I lived there during 5 years).
As said before, I will check both possibilities but I will most likely start the business in France and then consider moving (or creating a new one) in Switzerland.

Did you already start a business in France ?
 

Djioul

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I am also interested to read the answer from @Domgee

@Domgee Is it easy for EU citizens to move to Switzerland and start a business? Because I know EU citizens need some kind of permit to stay there long term. What are the capital requirements to start like?
Move to Switzerland : easy and not easy... It is quite easy when you have a job. If you want to go there as an entrepreneur or jobless, might be more complicated, but not impossible.
Still more difficult than the neighbour countries (Italy, Germany, Austria, France...).

Basically, you need to get a permit, yes. There different kinds of permit which are directly delivered by the Cantons.

I think Switzerland is a lovely, clean and safe country, but I find all the differences in rules and taxes between the Cantons a bit confusing.
Yes, this system is quite disturbing when you come from a country which is very centered (like me, in France). But it gives more flexibility to the Cantons to cover their needs which is not so bad in the end.

I did not dig very deeply but I am sure you can find some information on the web:

Swiss portal for companies creation

Looks like you can even set up a company while living abroad (in French)
 

Domgee

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@Domgee Is it easy for EU citizens to move to Switzerland and start a business? Because I know EU citizens need some kind of permit to stay there long term. What are the capital requirements to start like?

I think Switzerland is a lovely, clean and safe country, but I find all the differences in rules and taxes between the Cantons a bit confusing.
If you are EU, then it depends specifically on what type of business you are looking to launch and which of the EU countries you come from. The tax situation is relatively simple, you pay a national tax and then a specific tax for the Canton in which you live. The biggest difference is the tax rate by community. For example huge difference between Zug or Geneva. You can always work with Swiss Directors who will sit on your company board and provide the necessary fiduciary representation. For details on how it works, there is a site called startups dot ch. STARTUPS.CH | Start your business now I am not affiliated in any way with that site but they have all the current details. It is the site I used to register my first company. Everything is also extremely efficient, responses with hours or a day or so.

Yes you need permits and to follow the regulations, but they are straightforward and easy to implement.
 

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Ing

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Germany.
Yes, its easy to found a business.
Go to the local government and sign in. Ready.
Stop. You want to deal ? With which things? Bricks is ok!
Food? No. Regulations.
Wantto build a wall with the bricks? No. First 3,5 years bricklayer education and title, than build your wall!

Fridge? No problem. Oh, want to install the fridge. No. 3,5 years electrician education, title...

I wanted to install air conditioning 2 years ago. I surrendered after 4 months.
Just now I wanted to make an online shop for supplements. Dropship. Gess. No food dealing education, no title. Baaa...( I had that title 30 years ago, but my motivation faded...)

So when you have a good running business anywhere and want to entrepreneur in Germany, yes, you can hire a bricklayer, a air conditioning technician, a ... and make your business.

I ll now stop ranting.
But starting in Germany is tough and frustrating. Or be in IT. Germany isn’t so fast to regulate everything fast. So the chances are new technologies, wich haven’t much old fashioned structures.
Mine Bitcoins. They nearly know about it jet.

Or make your own, small thing under the radar.
 

monfii

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Thanks for the complete picture. Unfortunately, you got a lot of things right with this description.

I would also add the education system which is from the Middle-Age and doesn't encourage you to develop yourself after you finished your degree(s). "School gives you all the tools. Now that you are done with studying, close these books and just be productive. Don't worry, you know everything!"
If you add this to the "Engineering school's Mafia", you get a system which is closed and elitist. That's the main reason that I moved to Switzerland after my diplomas. Impossible to find a job with a pure University degree (even if I had previous industry-related experiences).


Not at all... I was also expecting it as "Start-Up nation" was one of their keywords.

Thanks for stopping the list here ! :happy:


I am strongly considering considering moving my company to Switzerland. Now it is located in France as it was founded by my Dad a few years ago.
I am checking and comparing both solutions right now.


It's a never-ending list, I agree.
Anyway, there are some advantages of being in France and as it is my native country, I know it much better than Switzerland (even if I lived there during 5 years).
As said before, I will check both possibilities but I will most likely start the business in France and then consider moving (or creating a new one) in Switzerland.

Did you already start a business in France ?
First, congrats, you speak pretty good English!

And unfortunately no, I have not started a business in France, less even in Belgium (but I am getting there).

Nonetheless, I dont want to discourage you. It is possible to start a business in France ofc, it wouldnt be the 5th worlwide economy otherwise ; ) it just may be a bit harder than in other countries.

Remember also that there is no perfect country (besides Estonia). Each have their advantages, and their disadvantages.

Wish you good luck with your venture!
 
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d0min0

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Germany.
Yes, its easy to found a business.
Go to the local government and sign in. Ready.
Lol, my experience was the opposite. That's why, while living in Berlin, I started my company in the UK.

In Germany, to start an LLC, you need to pay something between €100-€500 in fees to a few middlemen (notary at least), sign a ton of paper, physically go to the local Chamber of Commerce to hand over the registration package and then wait for a couple of weeks until your company is registered. And not to mention communication with the Tax Office, which is done via snail mail...

Meanwhile, one can start an LLC, register for a VAT number, open a bank account and do all the necessary stuff in the UK remotely within a week (maximum two).

Of course, that scheme makes it a bit more complex to optimize taxes in the long run. But it's an excellent scheme for starting and testing your business model without a large amount of seed capital or sweat equity.

Speaking of the original topic.

I live in Berlin now, but being originally from Russia and spending one year in the US, I concluded that the biggest challenge in the EU for Fast-Laners is poor financial services. That inhibits not only business growth – think customers spending less because almost no one has a classic American-style credit card. But also business owners. One needs to build a massive pile of cash before leveraging it and making money to create money.
 

Ing

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Lol, my experience was the opposite. That's why, while living in Berlin, I started my company in the UK.

In Germany, to start an LLC, you need to pay something between €100-€500 in fees to a few middlemen (notary at least), sign a ton of paper, physically go to the local Chamber of Commerce to hand over the registration package and then wait for a couple of weeks until your company is registered. And not to mention communication with the Tax Office, which is done via snail mail...

Meanwhile, one can start an LLC, register for a VAT number, open a bank account and do all the necessary stuff in the UK remotely within a week (maximum two).

Of course, that scheme makes it a bit more complex to optimize taxes in the long run. But it's an excellent scheme for starting and testing your business model without a large amount of seed capital or sweat equity.

Speaking of the original topic.

I live in Berlin now, but being originally from Russia and spending one year in the US, I concluded that the biggest challenge in the EU for Fast-Laners is poor financial services. That inhibits not only business growth – think customers spending less because almost no one has a classic American-style credit card. But also business owners. One needs to build a massive pile of cash before leveraging it and making money to create money.
Maybe you didn’t get the little irony of my post!
 

Djioul

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First, congrats, you speak pretty good English!

And unfortunately no, I have not started a business in France, less even in Belgium (but I am getting there).

Nonetheless, I dont want to discourage you. It is possible to start a business in France ofc, it wouldnt be the 5th worlwide economy otherwise ; ) it just may be a bit harder than in other countries.

Remember also that there is no perfect country (besides Estonia). Each have their advantages, and their disadvantages.

Wish you good luck with your venture!
Thanks for your compliment about my English and your supporting words !

I don't know if you can still consider France as the 5th economy...
Anyway, as I said in another post, I don't want to use the disadvantages of being in France as an excuse. As you just said, no place is perfect.
Let's get it done !
 

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I live in Berlin now, but being originally from Russia and spending one year in the US, I concluded that the biggest challenge in the EU for Fast-Laners is poor financial services. That inhibits not only business growth – think customers spending less because almost no one has a classic American-style credit card. But also business owners. One needs to build a massive pile of cash before leveraging it and making money to create money.

Fewer people have credit cards but almost everyone uses a debit card instead. I think that Europeans just prefer to pay with cash that they actually have. It doesn't necessarily mean that they spend less. And even if they do, I actually prefer this over living in a country where it's normal for the vast majority of people to have crazy amounts of debt and even REQUIRE a credit history to be considered trustworthy lol.
 

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I feel European at heart, being born in Italy and growing up there. Now in the UK.

People don't understand when I tell them that I will never move back to Italy. Love the country, love the people, love the food and atmosphere but god forbid you want to create anything, so many hurdles that just shouldn't be there.

People in the UK don't realise how good we have it here, somewhat held back by people needing (and wanting) to be told how to live their life but there is some of that everywhere. At least you can register a company for £13 and shut it just as easily, we have lending schemes for startups and more help that you could ever need if you know where to look. Most business is above board so it's not all dodgy handshakes, nepostism, promises and corruption. And the labour market is pretty flexible.
 

d0min0

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Hey, thx for your post!

Could you please extend on this?

Cheers

Well, let's say it's relatively easy to open a simple checking and savings account or get a credit card (charge card, in fact) for a private person or business. But when it comes to advanced stuff, like reaping cashback rewards from your business credit card or taking a mortgage to finance a property to start building a small Airbnb empire, the picture is sad. Here in Germany, banks are still in the 1800s and prefer to bear a reputation of money keepers rather than a vehicle for making money.

Fewer people have credit cards but almost everyone uses a debit card instead. I think that Europeans just prefer to pay with cash that they actually have. It doesn't necessarily mean that they spend less. And even if they do, I actually prefer this over living in a country where it's normal for the vast majority of people to have crazy amounts of debt and even REQUIRE a credit history to be considered trustworthy lol.
Agree; that is true from the private person point of view. But from the business perspective, that represents an enormous challenge.

With the EU population being almost 1.5 times larger than the US pop., consumer spendings in the EU, before Covid hit, were six times smaller ($2,141 bln vs $13,353 bln; source – tradingeconomics.com). As of now, the discrepancy is probably even bigger, as most of the EU countries still in lockdown.

My point is, in the EU, there's no culture of spending more than you earn. And I don't argue whether it's good or bad. I just pointed out this very noticeable difference, which is IMO is the major reason businesses have fewer opportunities to make money and grow.

But even though it all sounds like a rant, I'm actually trying to say that there is so much opportunities in Europe for unscripted entrepreneurs that sometimes it feels like you only need to make the first step, and there will be money rainfall :)
 

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