“Entrepreneurs who look outside the country make me very enthusiastic.”

Jury chairman: “Entrepreneurs who look outside the country make me very enthusiastic.”

You won’t make it abroad without curiosity, says jury chairman Danny Mekić. He himself doesn’t hesitate to approach a German CEO to ask about their insights into the local market. Use Mekić’s advice to further improve your submission for the VertrekNL award! 

Golden tips
1. Think big

“Entrepreneurship is a large, inspiring subject that gets a lot of attention. But here in the Netherlands, it’ll often be about entrepreneurship on a small scale. It’ll be about self-employed professionals or companies operating on a local level. And that’s fine, but I think it’s great when someone says: I’m going to take my concept abroad. Or: I’m going to start something in more than one country. Think big, even if that means you’ll have to figure out more on your own.”

2. Network with curiosity
“It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur abroad. You’ll be ten steps behind if you don’t have a network. Resources like the Chamber of Commerce sometimes don’t even exist. It helps if you make a habit of networking. Don’t establish contacts only when you need something, but always look around and talk to people. You really don’t need to be a born networker for that. I just developed that skill over time too. It helps to be curious. You could for example make an appointment with a local entrepreneur and ask them what you want to know.”

3. Increase your cultural savoir-faire
“A submission for the VertrekNL award should show an understanding of and an interest in local culture. Knowing the language isn’t always the most important thing. In France it can really earn you respect to speak the language well, but in Germany that’s much less important. You’ll discover unwritten rules like that when you make contacts. That way you can also find out whether the people there really have a need for your service or product.”

4. Make your visit useful to other companies.
“Getting started abroad is expensive. You need personal transport, hotel accommodations, et cetera. Of course, sometimes you can get subsidies when for example you’re getting started with export. You could also look for Dutch companies that also have interests in that area. They often hire consultancy firms to get to know the local market better. Maybe you can do some market research for them too during your stay, in exchange for travel expenses for example. Don’t be afraid to share knowledge and experiences, because you can often help each other along later. To me, helping is synonymous with life and evolution.”

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