The European Union is a community of over 500 million people, representing a huge potential audience for any online business. Europe currently uses a number of different languages, making content localization a necessity for any global business. This is one of the primary reasons why many European companies have embraced the world of e-commerce, as they have a large pool of customers to sell to.
Despite the obvious benefits of running an online business in Europe, operating a website or online store there can be fraught with legal and logistical challenges. For instance, EU law requires that all online businesses maintain a physically based presence in the EU, requiring the company to have an EU office, or at least one of their employees lives and works in Europe.
So, if you’re thinking about dipping your toes in the European waters, be sure to prepare for the unique challenges that this massive market presents. Here we answer the most common questions about running a web business in Europe:
Is Digital Nomads a Good Idea?
If your business goal is making money online, you’d be best served by entering Europe through the UK or Germany. Both countries have a strong entrepreneurial and technological vibe, which is highly conducive to internet-based businesses.
The UK has one of the world’s most vibrant and innovative digital communities, boasting a huge pool of tech-savvy millennials who are just waiting to be tapped into via your marketing strategy.
Germany is home to a huge number of extremely wealthy tech entrepreneurs, many of whom are keen to enter the world of e-commerce. With its world-class universities and highly-skilled workforce, it’s an attractive option for those looking to succeed in business.
Do You Need to Localize For The EU?
If you’re looking for global markets, there are more than 60 countries that the EU enables to do business with, so it would be a mistake to limit your search to just the EU. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll keep our answer to this question limited to just Europe.
If your target audience is solely within Europe, you can get away with a simple English-language website and completely disregard any other language. Unless you have the budget for full-time translators for every single language, you’re going to have to find a way to localize content for the Europeans.
Thankfully, there are technology platforms that can vastly improve the translation experience for free, as well as provide other valuable services to users. TranSee, for example, is a professional translation service that provides high-quality machine translations coupled with human reviews, ensuring you deliver the right message to the right audience.
Will Being An Agency Help?
One of the greatest things about being an independent freelancer is that you get to choose your clients and work conditions. This is especially beneficial if you want to enter a new market or have a specific expertise that you want to promote.
You can use your independent status to your advantage by setting up a specialized agency that focuses on online marketplaces like E-commerce. Representatives from the agency will be able to negotiate the best possible terms with the shop, handle the logistics of getting the product to the customer, and ensure that the whole process runs smoothly.
Being an agency will also give you the flexibility to be able to work remotely, which many of today’s entrepreneurs and freelancers are doing. It may be tough to get started, but with the right incentives and a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit, it’s an option that many independent contractors are looking into.
Is Setting Up A Physical Presence In Europe A Must?
As we’ve established, EU law requires that online businesses establish a physical presence in the country, meaning that you must have an office or store front in one of the member states.
For those looking to make a quick buck, you can get by with a virtual office and storefront, but for anyone who wants to actually see the community that they’re supporting, a physical presence is essential.
Luckily, Ireland and the UK are both ideal places to set up a business, with Ireland granting company registration, tax registration, and full jurisdiction of businesses operating there. If you decide to base yourself in the UK, there are a number of high-quality office spaces that focus on providing support to startups and growing businesses. Whether you want to be in London or the surrounding areas, there’s plenty to choose from.
Do You Need To Register With The EU?
As we mentioned above, EU law requires that all businesses operating in the digital sphere have a physical presence in one of the EU member states. You don’t necessarily have to register with the EU, but you are going to have to work with one of their accredited service providers.
This accreditation gives you the legal basis to establish and operate a business in one of the EU countries and makes you subject to their laws and regulations. In the simplest terms, this means that if you deal with customers in one of the member states, you’ll be required to collect sales tax in line with their laws and rules. The same goes for employees and contractors as well.
Do You Need To Open A Bank Account?
If you’re looking to get some funds to grow your business, the first thing you’re going to need to do is open a business account at a bank. Without one, you’ll be unable to make cash withdrawals or deposits, purchase equipment, or negotiate contracts.
Luckily, this is a process that’s easy to complete and allows you to get started selling into the EU straight away. All you need is a credit card and a valid email address to open the account. From there, you can enter the EU and set up your online business without any additional hurdles.
In order to stay competitive, many companies are opting to outsource as much as possible, letting specialized service providers handle the logistics of running an international business. With so much uncertainty due to the pandemic, companies are looking for ways to reduce costs and be more autonomous.
Hopefully, these tips will help you in your quest to grow a profitable business in Europe, enabling you to live your best life and make the most of your time there.