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American entrepreneur aims to fill a niche in Brussels' coffee market
My colleagues and I are passionate about drinking and creating really good coffee, writes American expat David Morris. We realised that there weren’t many companies in Brussels offering a refined, top quality speciality coffee, so we decided to start our own, REM Premium. Our mission is to create the highest quality speciality coffee and deliver it fresh to our customers.
Belgium is now my home. I’m from Philadelphia, but after meeting my wife I moved to Europe and fell in love with the rich culture and European lifestyle. I’m raising my son here and for me it’s a great place to live. Belgians have a refined palate when it comes food and drink. They appreciate a good cup of coffee so it’s a perfect place for me to start my business.
It’s important to do your research ahead of time to understand the business structure that makes the most sense for the company you’re starting. Organisations such as 1819.brussels were very helpful to me and responded quickly to all my questions and concerns. I’ve funded the business through my own private funds for the initial start-up phase, and would certainly do it the same way again. Having limited capital will in turn limit your ability to grow quickly, but it forces you to be smart and creative, which is the most fun aspect of owning your own business.
It’s important to understand the language or have someone you trust who does. But it’s easy to find useful information and advice related to opening a business in English. The support at ING and the government programmes setup for entrepreneurs was all available in English.
Besides running REM Premium, I also work for a creative agency. On top of this I have a beautiful wife and child who are very important to me, so I try to put some rules in place to keep from working 24/7. Most days I try to start working by 6.30 and finish work by 19.00. This gives me the evening to dedicate to my family. I also try to keep weekends free for travelling and spending time with my son. For the moment, this setup is working quite well for me.
My advice to anyone thinking of setting up a business is to not be scared off by the stories you hear of the red tape involved. It can be a complicated process but you can leverage the resources set up for you to help you understand the best structure for what you’re trying to accomplish. I would also recommend working with an accountant at least for the first year so you can understand your obligations related to taxes. To use a cliché motivational phrase, “You only live once, so follow your dreams!”
This article first appeared in ING Expat Time