I came across an interesting report entitled “2018 Best Countries Rankings” conducted by the global marketing communications company Y&R’s brand strategy firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School. The sub category “Best Countries for Entrepreneurship” placed Germany number one, before Japan (2), United States (3), United Kingdom (4) and Switzerland (5). The attributes that scored the highest for Germany making it an attractive country for entreprenurship in this study include a well-developed infrastructure, transparent business practices, educated population, skilled labour force, connectivity to the rest of the world, technological expertise and well-developed legal framework. The areas that scored lower include easy access to capital, entrepreneurial and innovative.
This study and its results were of a great interest to me because 1.5 years ago I moved to Germany from the UK and therefore had to also move my business to Germany. This was a good decision to make this transition. By moving my business to a new country my business expanded to a new and important market for the events industry. There are fundamental differences between the UK and Germany that offer great opportunities but also some challenges (especially for small businesses) so I wanted to share with you my experience and what’s next for my business.
I registered my business in the UK shortly after I started trading. I had to decide whether to work as a sole trader or register a Limited company so I chose the latter. In the UK it’s very fast, simple and inexpensive to register a company, making the barriers to entry very low. The reason I chose to trade as a company is my wish to grow the company and not being perceived as a “one-man band”.
For those who are new to my blog and work, I started in 2011 during an event internship in Munich. I won a full scholarship from Regent’s University London to study BA International Events Management and moved to London. London gave me the opportunity to grow my event network and introduced me to the savvy digital community of bloggers. I was constantly learning and networking with event planners and bloggers and until 2014 wasn’t quite sure how to monetise an event blog but I knew I wanted to do something big. Then in 2014 I started running the Event Planners Talk Twitter chat and in 2015 live events.
For every full time blogger it’s a natural transition to expand the scope of services, so as an event blogger it was a natural transition for me to launch my own event series.
Since 2015 I worked with Convention Bureaux, venues and an airline on these events and was able to host between 2 – 5 events per year. My aim is in the near future to turn it into a yearly event, but this is still in the making!
Furthermore, I also do content marketing for other companies in the MICE sector, including blogging, social media management, paid advertisement, digital PR and social media campaigns. With budgets shifting from print to digital this is so important to have a strong online presence and many companies are slowly doing this transition and investing more and more in digital.
So that’s about my business so far. You might know me as the blogger behind The MICE Blog or the host and organiser of Event Planners Talk or you know some of my clients, these are my three hats that I wear. While at the moment I don’t have full time employees, I work with wonderful freelancers who support me at peak times.
My move to Germany
I lived in the UK between 2011 and 2016, and shortly after registering my business I moved to Germany with my family.
The process of registering a business was very easy and inexpensive in the UK, but when I moved to Germany I realised the obstacles to establish the same entity in Germany, equivalent to a Limited company.
Therefore, I decided to keep my Limited UK company and founded a new company in Germany where the UK Limited is a shareholder, which is possible through the EU law. It turned out that this would create a limited liability company in Germany by profiting from simpler rules in the UK when it comes to founding companies. It would also have been possible to register a branch of the UK Limited in Germany without founding a new German company, but that structure turned out to be less tax efficient compared to the above.
There are several advantages doing business in Germany and these include high standards in business culture, ethics, law, regulations, reliable business partners and high spending power of clients. Furthermore, Germany has high geographic diversity. For example Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg are all major business hubs in comparison to the UK where most business activity takes place in London.
There are some challenges as well, especially when it comes to admin work. VAT should be reported from 17,500 EUR revenue, and from 80,000 GBP in the UK adding much of admin work for small business in the early stage. There are also additional expenses in Germany for instance for notary, register fees and tax advisors due to stricter regulations and a more complex tax system. Language is another challenge. But overall, when you get the set up right from the beginning, the process it straight forward.
Major industry events in Germany
Germany has a dynamic MICE market which I learn more and more about every day. I don’t have statistics figures, but I’m confident to say that after the UK it’s the second biggest for the events industry in Europe. Many automotive, insurance, financial, tech and medium-size companies (known as the Mittelstand) are headquartered in Germany.
Since I moved to Germany the number of events to attend here keeps me busy. The year started with Best of Events International in Dortmund. The event took place in the second week of January. Some might say it’s too early as not everyone is back from holidays yet or need to catch up on all activities from end of last year, but I think that was perfect to motivate and get back to work, see colleagues and discuss future business. As the saying goes “the early bird catches the worm”.
Not until long and March was here and the most important leisure trade show ITB Berlin. But it’s not only leisure anymore, because the MICE programme that takes place along the trade show is constantly growing and generating interest both from buyers and suppliers. If January was too early March is the perfect timing to be back on the road for trade shows.
Now we’re in April and in one month it will be time for the next big trade show, IMEX Frankfurt. If we can call BoE and ITB rather small and boutique gatherings, IMEX is a giant of the MICE industry and brings people from all over the world to Frankfurt for 4 days.
These three are the most international events, but there are many more regional events, each month and all over Germany.
What’s next for The MICE Blog
My blog is evolving, social media is evolving, client needs are evolving so it’s time for a small restructuring. The main challenge, and feedback I’ve got from clients is that they see me as an “influencer” or freelancer, but in fact that’s only 20% of the time I spend on sponsored posts or live event coverage. Most of my time goes into running Event Planners Talk events and managing social media accounts for my clients.
Based on this feedback and real client needs, I’ve decided to separate my private brand and corporate services. All my private content will stay under The MICE Blog umbrella, but all corporate account management will shift to Event Planners Talk brand, which will transform to a digital marketing agency for the MICE industry. The scope of services will include account management, blogging, digital PR, digital campaigns, social media training, live events, live coverage from events and more. If you’d like to know more about it at this stage then please get in touch.
Germany proved to be a dynamic market place where to start a new business venture and grow it internationally. Given the resources and my experience in the digital space that’s the right time to do it.
The chat and events will stay as they are at the moment. They will grow to a day long conference that provides a platform for international MICE professionals to stay on top of industry news and forge new business opportunities. Watch this space!
Photo by Thomas Loris, Blitzboxx