You’ve been dreaming about it for years — stepping off the plane into the sunshine, getting a cheap apartment near the beach, and opening your new business in Spain. Whether Barcelona, Madrid, or Granada is the city you plan to call home, the food, relaxed style, great weather, and innate creativity of this country are all reasons you want to launch your startup here. Even before coming up with your business name or choosing the right graphic designer for your website, you knew you’d end up working from Spain.
Like opening a business in any foreign country, starting a business in Spain can be a bit of a challenge. Whether it’s taxes, legal issues, or cultural differences, as long as you’re informed, you can move past these challenges and create the business you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s how:
1 Pick the right niche
If you’re going to be opening up a business in a new country, then you need to do your market research right. Spain has a very different culture from that of the US, so it’s worth visiting the country and hiring a data analyst to understand your buyer personas. In fact, 65 percent of companies that exceeded lead and revenue goals have updated their personas within the last six months.
You also need to think about budgeting for this move. It’s not just a fun trip to Spain: you’re going to incur costs such as airfare, renting out a new office, and spending money finding the perfect employees for your team.
2 Get a visa and work permit
Unfortunately, when it comes to being able to start a business without too much documentation, that’s only a right available to Spaniards and EU citizens. Usually, all you need is a simple number that identifies you if you aren’t Spanish–but if you’re an American, there are extra steps you need to take. Considering that the majority of digital nomads live in Spain, you’re sure to find lots of other American entrepreneurs once you get the documents you need.
According to TransferWise, you need to go to the Spanish Embassy closest to you and fill out a Spanish work permit application. This includes: (1) a business plan, (2) evidence that you have the money you need to support both yourself and your company, (3) evidence of your skills and experience in business, (4) copies of business contracts and the like, (5) applicable licenses and registrations, and (6) information about how you can help out the local economy by providing employment to Spaniards.
3 Become a sole trader
When you’re first opening your business, you have two options: to start your business as a sole trader, or as a limited company. According to A Place in the Sun, it’s best to be a sole trader, in large part because it’s so easy: “The simplest way to run a legal business in Spain is as a sole trader, or an ‘autónomo”, as you can either trade in your own name or as a business name. With the relevant documents, your business can be registered within around 15 days of the papers being signed, but you might need to obtain an opening license if you have business premises.”
Of course, don’t forget to have a specialized attorney take a look at the documents. Aaron Kelly, an attorney featured in HG Legal Resources, is the kind of business lawyer you should be looking for, and make sure they’re bilingual, too. Spain has the third-largest enterprise population in the EU, so there will be plenty of people you can consult.
4 Consider hiring a “gestor”
Spain, like many European countries, has an intense bureaucracy when it comes to running businesses–which can mean losing a lot of money when it comes to taxes and fines if you don’t know what you’re doing. According to the Typical Non Spanish blog, it’s smart to hire a “gestor,” who’ll help you manage finances, taxes, and contracts. Remember, too, that when it comes to being an employer, employee rights are highly protected in Spain, which means you’ll need to discuss “the different types of contracts there are (permanent –indefinido – or temporary -temporal-) but also on the hiring and firing procedures.”
It may seem like a headache, to have to hire someone to help you with all these complications, but it’s worth it. After all, the average cost for a pint of beer in Spain is 2 euros, and the weather’s sunny, and rent is cheap enough that you can walk to your office from your apartment.
By following these tips, you’ll know what you need to do to start your business in Spain. So do your research, get those bags packed, and get ready for your new life!
Why have you chosen Spain as the country to start a new business or startup?