There were 693 thousand registered companies in the Netherlands on 1 January 2004, 7 thousand more than one year previously. In the preceding two years the number of companies decreased.
Companies by legal form
Nearly half are one-man businesses
Last year, nearly half of all companies were one-man businesses, 28 percent were private limited companies, and 18 percent were partnership firms. Thirteen percent of all companies had their main activity in agriculture. In 1993 this was still 20 percent.
The total number of companies has risen by nearly 90 thousand since 1993. The number of partnership firms rose most strongly, by 50 thousand. Nearly 8 percent of these were new restaurants and cafés.
Economic growth and technology
The economic growth in the nineties along with the rising demand for services in combination with flexibility and independence were important factors for the growth in the proportion of one-man businesses and partnership firms in the last ten years.
Developments in ICT have made it possible for small businesses to reach more customers while keeping costs relatively low. A computer with an Internet connection, a mobile phone and the technical skills to operate them are often enough to go into business.
Strong increase in one-man construction businesses
In the construction sector, many sub-contractors and skilled workers have their own businesses. The number of one-man businesses in this branch has doubled since 1993. Many of these are companies without employees
Most small businesses today are active in the business services sector today. This sector counts more than 103 thousand companies, mainly lawyers, accountants, advertising and temp agencies and consultancies. This branch alone accounts for 53 thousand one-man businesses and 16 thousand partnership firms. The increase in the number of private limited companies in business services in the last ten years (from 15 to 34 thousand) was almost entirely caused by private companies in which only one person works.