How to Start an Online Business
Having an online business can be of great help for businessmen who are seeking to expand their business operations. Considering that the number of internet users is gradually expanding, performing a business activity in the online sector could definitely be a way to gain more popularity and increase the company’s revenues.
According to the data collected by the World Bank, at the level of 2017, a percentage of 49.72% of all the global population was connected to the internet. The data collected refers to all types of internet users and it takes into consideration all the means through which persons across the world are connected to the internet (computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, games machine, digital TV, etc.).
The procedure for starting an online business can, of course, vary from a country to another, but as a general rule all online businesses must go through standard incorporation steps. For example, investors should observe the procedure regarding the registration of a business from a legal point of view (registration with the local authorities, obtaining special permits, registering for tax purposes based on the type of company selected and others), the steps that must be completed when opening a website, which is necessary for all online businesses, and the payment methods used, provided that the company will sell various goods and products.
Investing in Europe
A good destination for setting up an online business is the European Union (EU) due to the fact that the investors will generally benefit from the same policies, considering that the Community has a harmonized legislation, which is applicable in most of its member states. This can have various advantages with regards to the trade of the products sold on the European market, but also to the taxation of the products.
Provided that the investors are represented by European businessmen, they will have additional advantages as they will be treated following the same rules available for the citizens of the respective country. In Europe, some of the best business destinations are represented by the following countries: France, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
We will present the case of starting an online business in the Netherlands.
Most of the online businesses available at a global level operate in the e-commerce sector. This means that they are registered as online shops and they will need to follow the same regulations available for brick-and-mortar shops. In the Netherlands, such entities have to be registered with the Commercial Register and they also need to be the holders of VAT numbers, regardless if they are incorporated as sole traders or corporate bodies.
Investors who are interested in starting a Dutch business in the online sector should know that the basic formalities are the following (and most of the steps are also available for other European countries):
- verify if the desired domain name is available – this can be done with the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands;
- the wanted domain name has to be unique at a national level;
- if the domain name is available, the businessman can purchase it;
- contact a web-designer, who will be in charge with developing a website based on the type of activity one wants to start;
- if the online business will be based on selling goods or products, the web developer must include payment platforms and secure payment methods that can be used by the company’s clients.
The Netherlands can be an attractive place for starting an online business, as the e-commerce sector is highly developed here. According to the data gathered by the Ecommerce Foundation for 2019, e-commerce industry in the Netherlands is characterized by a very rapid delivery system, and 49% of the online consumers have mentioned that one of the most important advantages of online shopping in this country is given by the “ease of ordering at home”.
Presentation website for your company
Another way to start an online business is by having a website that is used for presenting the types of services a person/company can deliver to its clients. The website can also be used as means through which clients can book appointments or a way through which the person/company can present its services, packages of services and the prices for all of them. This can be the case of those working as photographers, business consultants, lawyers, doctors and for numerous other types of business activities.
These websites can also be used by professional people working in different fields, such as dentists, or by companies providing other medical services. This activity has developed at a very rapid pace in the Middle East and businessmen can easily purchase a domain name following the legal requirements applicable in each country. The registration of a website can be completed in a single day and the minimum registration term is established at one year.
When opening a website, regardless if it is registered in Europe, Middle East, Asia or other regions of the world, the owner of the website (be it a natural person or a legal entity) has to sign a domain name registration agreement, which represents the legal basis through which the person gains the right of owning a domain name in a given jurisdiction.
The prices for purchasing a domain name also vary from a country to another, but the costs are generally very low and the most relevant difference in selecting a jurisdiction for starting an online business is given by the initial investment costs of starting a company (the capital for the wanted company type, the costs of permits and licenses, the fees required by the local institutions, taxation level and other similar aspects).