Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Focus What to Know Before Starting a Business in Europe

What to Know Before Starting a Business in Europe

If you've always dreamed of starting an international business, you may feel that Europe is the easiest place to begin. Many people speak English, and the business processes are similar. However, presentations, relationship-building, and decision-making can differ widely from what you might be used to in the United States.

Many Europeans won't do business with you unless they know you can behave and act correctly. By knowing how the Europeans handle things, you can establish your credibility.

Gaining International Business Skills

Before opening a business in another country, you'll need the right skills. Consider studying international business. This degree will provide a strong foundation for your endeavors. It will also help you see the big picture when it comes to issues and solutions. You'll learn about economics, finance, management, marketing, and other subjects, so you won't be missing out on any foundational classes. It can be hard to pay for school, so you may need to take out private student loans to cover the cost of your education. By taking out loans, you might be able to start your education sooner rather than later so you can jumpstart your career. Having loan money often means you aren't financially required to have a job, leaving more time for internships.

Brush Up on Your Knowledge

In the United States, people often focus on limiting the length and number of business meetings. But once you're in Europe, you have to stop thinking like that. Instead, these people like time to digest ideas, debate, process, and reflect on information. A lot of decision-making and trust-building happens during meals. You can expect dinner to take a while since it's about more than just eating and drinking. They believe that discussing things can lead to better results. Try not to micromanage the time you have there and stay patient. If you ostracize your partners, you might end up breaking the deal.

Europeans measure how worthwhile you are by your knowledge of current events, the world, and historical events. To be successful, you need to be intellectual, able to discuss nearly any topic, and well-educated. Stay informed before traveling so you can converse knowledgeably. Try to bring something new instead of repeating the latest events. You can impress your potential business associates if they feel like they learned something from you, even it is unrelated to your company's products or services.

Stay Formal

If you're traveling to Europe, try to be more formal than casual, as they like good table manners, formal greetings, and handshakes. Do your research on the appropriate etiquette. While the country is more formal, you also don't want to stand out. Europeans don't usually wear showy accessories or clothing, so look for neutral or dark colors, and don't go for any bling. Look for classic bags, leather shoes, and watches. Save your fun accessories for once your back in the United States. It's important to think before you speak, just like you should think before going abroad. It might seem similar, but if you don't know the differences, you could inadvertently break a deal.

Document Actions
EU Alerts

EUbusiness Week no. 851
Time to speed up climate action
→ EUbusiness Week archive

The Week Ahead no. 481
Fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea - Green City Accord - Commission's 2021 work programme - Sakharov Prize 2020 Winner - EU Green Week

Subscription options