There are dozens of lucrative business opportunities in Europe for entrepreneurs who are looking to strike out on their own. You can even start your own business in Europe as a foreigner. Many of these business ideas require very little capital to begin and are very easy to run from home. To get started, you’ll need an understanding of:
- The needs of European customers
- The top business opportunities in Europe
- How to make your European business a success
The European Customer
If you want to run a profitable business, the first step is to know your customer, and while cultures and tastes vary from one country to the next, there are a few major themes to keep in mind for starting a business in Europe.
Europeans Are Primarily Urban
According to Eurostat, at least 75% of Europeans live in urban areas. This means that most Europeans work in office jobs, have a certain amount of disposable income and are constantly looking for ways to save time. They are also able to collect packages from parcel lockers, making online shopping an accessible option.
Europeans Typically Have Small Families
According to data from the World Bank, the average European family has 1.5 children. This has several implications for people looking to start a business:
- Families have more money to spend per child and are willing to invest in their education.
- A large portion of the European workforce consists of people from elsewhere.
- There is a need for professionals to care for the elderly.
Europeans Are Tech-Savvy
According to Statista, 91% of European households have access to the internet. Furthermore, mobile internet use accounts for 49.19% of web traffic. This means that if you start an online business in Europe, you will have 715 million potential customers if you optimise your site for mobile devices and provide different language versions of your site.
Europeans Are Environmentally Conscious
The 10 “greenest” countries in the world are all located in Europe, according to research from Yale and Columbia universities. By rank, these countries are:
- United Kingdom
In the article (published by Forbes), it is noted that a love for nature goes hand in hand with eco-conscious living, so you can count on the fact that top business opportunities in Europe must prioritise environmental responsibility.
The European Economy
The European continent consists of 44 countries, 27 of which are members of the European Union. Thanks to their close proximity and small size, trade between European countries is common and fairly easy to do. While Europe (like most places) used to be primarily agrarian, Europe today—particularly Western Europe—is primarily based on a knowledge economy.
To start an international business in Europe, you will need a VAT (value-added tax) number which allows you to trade in the European Union as well as a local tax number and corporate registration in each country where your business operates. You will usually be required to have an office space or residential address in each country where your company trades.
To run an online store, you will need a secure global payment gateway and merchant services that include 24/7 customer support, fraud protection and chargeback mitigation features. An established merchant service provider in Europe, like Unicorn Payment, will also be able to advise you about taxation and your other obligations when running an international business.
Top Business Ideas in Europe
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the top business opportunities in Europe. Most—if not all—of these business ideas can operate as online businesses with a little help from local employees.
Online Clothing Store
Selling clothes online is a great way to reach young people—the demographic most likely to browse apparel on their desktop or smartphone. While most of your customers will be young female students and professionals with a disposable income, be sure to cater to men, working mothers, children, teens and mature-aged adults as well.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation reveal that more than 50% of Europeans are overweight and over 20% are obese. As awareness about the importance of physical activity increases, top business opportunities in Europe can harness the trend by selling athleisure wear to health-conscious Europeans.
Sustainable Clothing Store
As mentioned earlier, Europeans care about the planet. Unfortunately, most of the major clothing labels use fabrics that are anything but sustainable. Help meet the need for eco-friendly, fashionable clothing by starting your own eco-wear brand.
Busy urban professionals often don’t have much time to prepare food—particularly if they are at the office all day. This creates an opportunity for creative entrepreneurs to fill the gap with a food truck or food business that lets customers order online. Remember that you’ll be serving a health-conscious and Earth-conscious population, so keep it healthy, delicious and green.
Meal Prep Business
Prepare meals for singles, couples and families that don’t have time to cook for themselves. You could offer options for one meal per day up to entire-week meal plans. Make sure to offer a delightful variety of healthy, culturally-appropriate meals presented in recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Healthy Snacks and Drinks
Professionals, gym-goers and families are always looking for healthy snacks. Make the choices easier by selling locally-made snacks and drinks. The most popular categories of healthy snacks include dried shake protein and micronutrient powders for exercise and snacks in biodegradable packets for kids.
People always need food services that cater to business functions and social events. You could specialise in a particular event type, like weddings, or develop menus that can be adjusted to events of all sizes and descriptions.
Individuals who do have time to cook value trustworthy, clean, organic food. Consider selling organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed dairy and grass-fed free-range meats. If you don’t produce the ingredients yourself, you could deliver mixed organic boxes direct to your customers’ doors.
Supplements and Herbs
Along with an awareness of health comes a high demand for natural supplements. Many Europeans like to use alternative products such as herbal remedies and essential oils along with conventional medicine and selling these goods could be a lucrative business.
Other Products to Sell Online
Many entrepreneurs get started by selling products. Aside from those already mentioned, you could also sell:
- Laptop accessories
- Electronic gadgets
- Eco-friendly products
- Party supplies
- Pet supplies
- Subscription boxes with recurring billing
What you might find is that selling existing products gives you a business idea for your own brand. If you can do it better than the competition, you could potentially start a profitable business.
Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and party for convenience, many Europeans are now looking for services they can receive online. While these top business opportunities in Europe could technically be provided from any part of the world, local knowledge and speaking the local language is essential for providing the best possible service to your customers.
E-health is rising in popularity as an alternative to attending a clinic. Virtual doctors can listen to patients describe their symptoms and suggest analyses for the patient to complete as well as provide advice on simple issues such as baby care, nutrition, family planning and aged care.
*Please note that individuals providing e-health services must be qualified and registered.
Financial services such as bookkeeping and accounting are a necessary part of running a business. Meet the demand of entrepreneurs by providing professional accountant, auditing, tax consultation and bookkeeping services from the comfort of your home.
Busy professionals often need help with small tasks such as researching a topic or placing a call. Becoming a virtual assistant is a great idea if you are at the computer all day working or studying and can give a few hours to assist a professional at the same time.
As stated earlier, European parents have small families and are happy to invest quite a bit of money in their kids. Meet the demand for enrichment and support by providing virtual and in-person tutoring to European children and teens, as well as private language classes for adults.
Professionals today tend to have more job changes than previous generations and are looking for a sense of fulfillment. Train as a career coach and offer virtual consultations to people around Europe.
Europeans love to celebrate, and those who don’t have time to plan may be happy to hire an event planner. To get started, take a short course in event planning and build a network of complementary professionals like photographers, caterers and decorators. Then, offer event packages online.
Language Translation and Interpretation
Due to the large number of languages spoken in Europe (over 200!) and the close proximity of countries to one another, translation and interpretation services are always needed. The top languages spoken in Europe are:
- Russian (140 million native speakers)
- German (95 million native speakers)
- French (90 million native speakers)
- Turkish (78 million native speakers)
- Italian (60 million native speakers)
- English (60 million native speakers)
- Spanish (43 million native speakers)
- Polish (36 million native speakers)
- Ukrainian (27 million native speakers)
- Dutch (22 million native speakers)
Provide Ecommerce Services
Many companies have joined the online marketplace and need help promoting and growing their business. There is a high demand for businesses that can help to get online companies started and boost their presence in search engines. Consider the following possibilities for starting a new company:
- Market research agency
- SEO/content writing agency
- Website builder
- Online marketing agency
- PPC agency
- Social media consultant
- Graphic design
- Data analyst consulting
- Email automation
- Tech support
If you have previously had success in any of these fields, there will be a high demand for your services. Be sure to create a website in the European languages you wish to target and register your business with the appropriate organisation.
Build a Platform or Create Software
Some of the top business opportunities in Europe are created by filling a gap in the local market using a popular third-party idea. Customers always appreciate something local or at least national that’s made in their language and appropriate to their cultural norms. Take on the giants and provide a service European customers will love:
- Create an online course platform.
- Create new online marketplaces or ecommerce platforms.
- Create a cyber security software program.
- Create a keyword planning tool.
- Create a user feedback app.
- Create a time tracking app.
Start a YouTube Channel or Blog
When it comes to business opportunities, few people consider becoming YouTubers or bloggers. However, a growing number of people in Europe and abroad are coming to make their fortunes that way. To succeed as a YouTuber or blogger, you’ll need to produce high-quality written or video content on a regular basis that appeals to a niche audience. You can then make money through advertising, affiliate marketing, guest posting and merchandise.
Consider these topics to make your blog or YouTube channel into a profitable business:
- Sponsored or independent product reviews
- Information for pet owners
- Parenting tips and ideas
- Natural product recipes
- Sustainable living ideas
- Home and garden ideas
- Survival skills
- Educational videos and activities for kids
Currently, there is an abundance of written and video content available in English but far less produced in other languages. If you manage to hit the top 10 most widely spoken languages in Europe, your potential customer base will be huge.
Work Hard and Make Your Dream Job a Reality
The top business opportunities in Europe are waiting for you. If you are a keen entrepreneur or a worker or student who is wanting to make some extra money, consider the items on this list and pick the one that provides the best match to your interests, skills and experience.
Remember that you will need to register your small business in all of the European countries where you will trade and satisfy ecommerce regulations before you can start making money. Then, focus on building the best business you can, earn your customers’ loyalty and reap the rewards.