Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Laila Oliveira
Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve aren’t the only cities with thriving businesses anymore. With due credit to immigration, tourism, business opportunities, and regulations, Portugal’s entrepreneurial landscape is quickly changing. It makes you wonder whether your business idea would fit right in. Here’s our take on the top 15 business ideas to launch in Portugal!
We’ll take it slowly. First, let’s guide you a bit more about why the economic environment is favorable for entrepreneurs. Are there policies to help launch new companies? What are the tax laws and policies? Next, we’ll help you explore the best cities with opportunities for startups that can cater to Portugal’s large audience.
Stay with us till the end to learn more about Portugal’s D2 Business Visa and how it can allow you and your family to live in Europe’s stunning tourist hub. Happy reading!
The Business Landscape in Portugal
Portugal has undergone remarkable economic growth in the last decade. With new policies and investment possibilities, people from all over the globe have taken this chance to participate.
This change is the result of consecutive strategic management decisions to boost the economy while striving for continuous development. Year after year, we have seen an increase in the number of tourists that visit every year. Do we thank the breathtaking scenery or the government’s policies?
To be fair, it’s a combination of both. Immersive cultural experiences, stunning natural views, and the introduction of new visas have made all of it possible. The top industries that contribute to the business landscape in Portugal are tourism, hospitality, manufacturing, and a bit of agriculture.
As for exports, Portugal’s top exports include cars and parts ($4.21B), refined petroleum ($2.67B), leather footwear ($1.72B), and rubber tires ($1.28B). These items are mainly exported to Spain, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. While the country’s imports are mainly sourced through Germany (€962M), France (€486M), Netherlands (€420M), and China (€393M).
A huge majority of expats come to Portugal solely to find work. Yes, a huge chunk is retirees and digital nomads. However, the startup ecosystem naturally attracts many entrepreneurs who wish for their businesses to grow.
Why is the economic environment favorable for entrepreneurs?
With the rising demand for experiential travel and a better quality of life, people visiting Portugal and living there have growing needs. The World Bank ranks Portugal as the 39th best country out of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business Index. That leaves countries like Italy, Belgium, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and others far behind.
Let’s not forget about one very important point. Portugal’s strategic location and membership in the EU help businesses access a larger market and aim for growth in Europe and beyond. Since the country is situated strategically on the western edge of Europe and near the Atlantic coast, the ease of doing business increases.
Additionally, the well-developed transportation infrastructure makes it easier to transport goods across borders as well as domestically. And since Portugal already benefits from trade agreements and partnerships, smooth business interactions are common.
Last but not least, the introduction of the D2 Business Visa and the Golden Visa allows for easier integration into the business landscape.
When you start researching deeply regarding the business landscape, it’s easy to realize that it is easy to make a profitable investment in Portugal.
Opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups
A supportive ecosystem can take you a long way! The Portuguese government has been actively supporting startups through initiatives such as funding programs, mentorship, and networking events.
We have also seen a rise in the availability of venture capital and private equity funding thanks to Lisbon’s growing tech scene. Not only does this facilitate the creation of new companies, but it also helps scale their operations.
Entrepreneurs also have access to various networking events and business conferences like Startups World International Conference 2024 and the Web Summit. Some of these events are attended by startup owners from all over the world!
The Portuguese government also introduced Empresa Na Hora, which is a service that aims to simplify the company formation process. It offers pre-approved company names and allows you to create a company faster. Of course, there are more steps to it, and you can get help from experts to learn more.
Another factor that indirectly helps entrepreneurs and location-independent professionals is the D8 Digital Nomad Visa. Digital entrepreneurs can benefit from this long-term residence visa to research the ecosystem deeply without making permanent decisions such as opening a physical company.
Here are some of the best cities to start a business in Portugal:
How to get the D2 Business Visa?
We can feel the entrepreneurial energy in you kick in! The D2 Business Visa is majorly popular with investors from the United States, the UK, or close countries like Spain, Brazil, and France.
The D2 Business Visa allows you to carry out business operations in Portugal. If you already have a list of business ideas to launch in Portugal, all you have to do is follow the legalities and obtain the permit to follow your plans.
The requirements to apply for the Visa are as follows:
- Proof of means of subsistence (€7,980 for the first adult, €3,990 for the second adult, and €2,294 per child);
- Incorporation of the company in Portugal (mention qualifications of members, share capital, distribution of quotas, and appointment of manager and accountant);
- Attach a formal business plan (must include the business objective and structure, the location of the establishment, the target audience, and the expected revenue);
- Proof of accommodation (lease agreement);
- International Medical Insurance.
The list may seem exhaustive, but it’s all worth the wait when you track your progress! If you need help figuring out the legality or coming up with a strong business plan, get in touch with experts from Viv Europe to guide you along the way.
How can I take my business to Portugal?
After you’ve studied the market and conducted a thorough SWOT analysis, you will take the next step to create the business plan. To start a business in Portugal, this must be in accordance with Portuguese rules and regulations.
For your business ideas to launch in Portugal, you must then open your company legally. It’s ideal that you do this in person, but it is okay if you are unable to do so. You must authorize a lawyer to help you do this.
To register your brand in Portugal, you can apply online through the Empresa Online portal. However, you will require a permit and your NIF Number. At this point, you should be aware of taxation laws and the cost of doing business in Portugal.
- Understand the process in detail by reading our article How To Take My Business To Portugal: An Entrepreneur’s Guide.
15 business ideas to launch in Portugal
Now that we’ve got all the technical information out of the way let’s focus on what types of businesses thrive in this landscape!
Online Retail and E-commerce Ventures
This one doesn’t come as a surprise. Online retail has taken the world by storm in the last decade. With growing consumerism trends and an increase in fast-shopping experiences, e-commerce services are only increasing every single day.
Portugal’s growing literacy and growing expat population also contribute to the trend of online shopping. Additionally, even tourists appreciate when they can shop a wide range of products conveniently without having to step into crowded malls. They may be there for a short amount of time, but the demand for goods is never-ending!
E-commerce also includes services like Uber Eats and Glovo that simplify the process of dining out when people aren’t in the mood to cook.
Gourmet Food and Beverage Businesses
Portuguese gastronomy is not to be taken lightly! Since people take their food very seriously, this is definitely one of the best business ideas to launch in Portugal. Tourists and locals alike have a growing demand for excellent gourmet food experiences.
We’ve seen this demand domestically for years. But, if you’ve noticed travel trends recently, people have also started to travel internationally to eat at famous restaurants. Especially if you make it big on Instagram!
Portugal itself is a country that fosters rich culinary traditions and a growing interest in gastronomy. You can tap into the local food culture or even introduce your own local culture to Portugal.
With the increase in tourists and expats, and consequently multiculturalism, people often love it when they can dine in more than one cuisine.
Health and Wellness Startups
As the health and wellness market grows globally, people have started focusing more on their well-being than they used to. This isn’t limited to physical health but also mental health, which is equally important.
This business idea can be online or physical, according to your plans. If online, it can include fitness programs and follow-through guides for physical wellness. Along with nutritional guides and access to mental health support for holistic well-being.
Another fantastic step could be to turn this idea into a physical location where expat retirees, mid-age adults, and young adults can join in for weekly programs.
Creative Arts and Design
It’s all about the experiences! Portugal’s rich cultural heritage and appreciation for art make it an excellent market for creative businesses. Whether it’s traditional crafts or modern designs, having a space to let creativity flow is severely underappreciated.
This may also help tourists be more involved in their travel experiences rather than just enjoying the beach. Not that there’s anything wrong with having fun on the Algarve’s stunning beaches, but it’s good to have more activities that can add value to people’s travel experiences.
Imagine how memorable it would be for people to take home a little crafty project they made on their trip to Portugal!
Let’s Move to Portugal
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Tech and Software Development
If you’ve heard anything about Lisbon, you know it is Portugal’s most significant tech hub and also happens to be the country’s capital. Lisbon is where all the magic happens.
But the main business hub is now slowly expanding and making its way to other cities. A huge majority of expats still prefer Lisbon over any other city, thanks to how developed it is. However, things are changing, and it is a fast-paced environment.
With a pool of highly skilled professionals and government initiatives supporting innovation and digital solutions, we can see things changing dramatically fast in this sector.
AgriTech and Agriculture Innovation
Portugal has a strong agriculture sector which can benefit from technological advancements. AgriTech startups can introduce innovations to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and yield of crops.
We can notice similar trends in other parts of Europe; companies have started focusing more on organic farming. The concern of organic farming arises from the need to be more environmentally conscious.
Think along the lines of smart farming technology and organic produce solutions. While it may seem like the GDP contribution for agriculture is insignificant, there’s so much room for growth.
Another fantastic business idea to launch in Portugal is adventure tourism. The country’s diverse landscapes and outdoor natural attractions make it an ideal destination for this form of tourism.
A few companies are already working in this sector, but with the steady growth of millions of tourists yearly, there’s so much potential!
This gives an opportunity to capitalize on Portugal’s natural beauty. You can start by researching surfing, snorkeling, cruises, hiking, eco-tourism, etc.
Home Renovation and Interior Design
Say hello to Portugal’s booming real estate market! Whether tourists and expats will be interested in water sports or not is another debate. When people plan to visit or relocate to Portugal, the need for interior design and home renovation undoubtedly arises.
Currently, the market offers a mix of contemporary and modern housing. And there’s a demand for more innovative and stylish housing options.
The construction sector is already working day and night to build more hotels and accommodation facilities to prevent a major housing crisis. Construction is incomplete without thoughtful interior design to maximize the utility of existing spaces.
Fintech and Financial Services
The increase in digital adoption also provides an excellent space for fintech startups to launch their services. We know how important it is for expats and investors to move money here and there.
Financial services, such as digital payments and financial planning, catering to the needs of businesses and consumers can thrive in this evolving market.
Given the complexities and the need to follow GDPR compliance, implementing this business idea is a bit more complex. But if you have the right expertise, it’s a great opportunity to make use of.
E-Mobility and Green Transportation
We’ve heard about these concepts in the last few years, but there’s a very urgent and growing need to shift to green transportation methods.
Launching electric vehicle services, eco-friendly transport solutions, and bike-sharing platforms aligns with Portugal’s environmental goals.
Currently, the public transport system includes metros in Lisbon and Porto, buses, trams, and taxis. People often rely on public transport and avoid buying a car if they live in cities with narrow streets. With the need to shift to non-renewable energy sources, e-mobility is a great market to explore.
Portugal is popular for having one of the strongest textile industries in Europe. Although it may seem intimidating, a sustainable fashion brand is a great business idea to launch in Portugal.
Consumers are increasingly conscious of their ecological footprint, which presents an opportunity to offer eco-friendly and ethically produced clothing. Start by conducting market research to create your own unique designs, after which you can partner with a local manufacturer to bring those designs to life.
Since excellent textile infrastructure is already present, producing sustainable, good-quality clothing will be easy if you have the right resources.
Marketing can make or break any business. It’s almost 2024; every business aims to achieve a sustainable and strong online presence that brings results. Launching a digital marketing agency can help other companies to grow their platform in more than one way.
By investing in this sector, you will be helping local businesses navigate the online business landscape, optimize their reach, and stay on top of their game.
This sector also helps create one of the highest numbers of jobs for specialists and digital marketing strategists.
Language and Cultural Exchange Programs
Next up on the list of business ideas to launch in Portugal, we have something for language and cultural exchange programs.
The country’s growing popularity as a travel destination and also as a retirement destination makes it an ideal setting for such a business. Within this scope, you can help launch initiatives that link locals with international visitors for language learning and cultural experiences.
This is a great way to serve the growing expat population that is looking for an easier way to learn about the local culture. Cultural exchange programs will also promote community engagement, which is an integral part of life after relocation.
Elderly Care and Home Healthcare Services
Free Portuguese public healthcare is definitely a blessing. Nevertheless, many residents of Portugal opt for private healthcare services simply because they are faster and more convenient. So, why not start a business that makes it even more convenient?
For a country with a steadily aging population and demand for elderly care, Portugal has a gap in the market of premium elderly care services. This can involve providing assisted living services, as well as home care services.
Think along the lines of providing medical monitoring and personalized care plans or even consultations from qualified doctors online!
A pet owner’s love for their furry or feathery friends is a universal phenomenon, which is why pet services are a great business idea to launch in Portugal. Services can range from pet spas and grooming to pet daycare and the like.
With increasing pet ownership trends, you could even launch an app that connects pet sitters to pet owners. And with proper planning, you could combine this with the gastronomy sector and establish a cozy pet cafe. This would be aimed at pet owners who can do activities with their fur babies and socialize with other like-minded individuals.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to providing convenience and care.
Do you need help with your business plan in Portugal?
You don’t need to have it all figured out. When starting to think about business ideas to launch in Portugal or even making a profitable investment in Portugal, you must take your time. These 15 ideas are great to kickstart the brainstorming process!
Join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, and get insights from expats who have already relocated. There’s so much you can learn from people who already live there, and it can help you analyze gaps in the market.
When you’re ready to get started on this dream project, book a meeting with experts from Viv Europe! We’re here to assist you with the D2 Visa application, NIF Number, creation of your company, and everything that follows!