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Unlock success in Portugal with our top 5 tips for entrepreneurs! Navigate the business landscape effectively and thrive!

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by Laila Oliveira

Navigating the entrepreneurial landscape in Portugal requires a strategic approach that considers the unique characteristics of the local business environment. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out on your business journey as an expat, the top 5 tips for entrepreneurs in Portugal aim to provide invaluable insights and guidance!


From understanding the cultural nuances to leveraging economic opportunities, these tips are designed to help you survive and thrive in the Portuguese business ecosystem. Join us as we explore key strategies, cultural considerations, and practical advice to empower entrepreneurs seeking success in Portugal’s vibrant and dynamic market.

Does Portugal have an entrepreneurial landscape?

Yes, Portugal has a growing entrepreneurial landscape that has gained momentum in recent years. The country has tried to create a favorable environment for startups and small businesses with various initiatives and support programs. 

Lisbon, the capital city, has emerged as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, hosting numerous co-working spaces, accelerators, and events that bring together entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals.

Portugal’s government has implemented measures to support entrepreneurship, including tax incentives, funding programs, and initiatives to attract foreign investment. The country’s strategic location, relatively low cost of living compared to other European cities, and skilled workforce contribute to its appeal as a destination for entrepreneurs. 

While challenges exist, such as bureaucratic processes and economic fluctuations, Portugal’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to evolve, attracting both local and international entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow their businesses.

Opportunities for startups and small businesses in Portugal

Portugal offers a range of opportunities for startups and small businesses, making it an attractive destination for expat entrepreneurs. One of the main advantages of setting up a shop in Portugal is less competition. 

Unlike other nations in Europe and beyond, the business environment in Portugal is not as competitive. So anyone who is business-minded can thrive and succeed in their endeavor.

Something else worth mentioning is that Portugal gives you access to the entire Schengen zone as an entrepreneur. Establishing a business or startup in Portugal gives you the unique advantage of moving across the Schengen zone without restrictions. 

This, in turn, allows you to advertise and sell your business to a wider audience. It is no coincidence that more than one million companies have their base in Portugal, as per the recent census.

How do you get a Business Visa to Portugal?

Before starting a business in Portugal as a foreigner, you will need to have a business visa or a residence permit. However, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens don’t need a visa or residence permit; they only need to request a Registration Certificate from the nearest city hall. 

For non-EU residents, part of the planning phase will involve applying for a D2 Visa, often described as a business visa. In Portugal, two primary business registration methods exist: online and in-person.

Freelancers can register through the Portal das Finanças or at their local finance office. For sole proprietorships involving shares, quotas, and public limited companies, the recommended approach is to utilize the Empresa Online service, requiring a citizen card for the application. 

Another option involves seeking assistance from a lawyer or solicitor who can facilitate the process using a digital certificate (certificado digital). Alternatively, individuals can opt for in-person registration through Empresa na Hora, a service accessible nationwide at Espaços Empresa. Appointments can be scheduled in advance for this service.

Documents needed in general

Similar to applying for any other visa, there are several documents that you will need to present during the application process, which include the following.

  • Passport with at least six months’ validity beyond your intended stay.
  • Passport-size photos.
  • Flight itinerary.
  • Proof of accommodation arrangements.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Invitation letter from a business contact in Portugal.
  • Proof of financial means to cover your stay.
  • Proof of ties to your home country (to demonstrate your intention to return).

But that is not all; the aforementioned documents cut across different types of visas, and some of the specific requirements for the D2 visa include.

  • A business plan
  • Evidence of experience or expertise in that particular area of business
  • Proof that your business or idea is relevant and economically viable in the country.

For a new entrepreneur in the country, sometimes you don’t have all the data and information about the viability of that specific business. In that case, a good alternative to the D2 visa is the Startup Visa. This particular option allows you to apply for the start-up incubator, which is perfect for a first-time business owner who needs time to adapt to the business environment.


In-demand business sectors

With its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and strategic European location, Portugal is a sought-after tourist destination and an emerging hub for business and innovation. As the country continues to evolve economically, certain sectors stand out as promising and in demand. Let’s discuss a few:

  • Technology – Lisbon, particularly, has become a vibrant tech hub, attracting startups and businesses focused on software development, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. This is an industry that shows a lot of promise, even for the future.
  • Tourism and Hospitality – It wouldn’t be fair to fail to mention the bread and butter of the Portuguese economy. Although quite saturated, the prevalence of tourism in the country makes this sector desirable even for foreign entrepreneurs.
  • Real Estate and Construction – The real estate market in Portugal, especially in cities like Lisbon and Porto, is booming. Construction and real estate development businesses are thriving, driven by a combination of domestic demand and international interest.
  • Renewable Energy – In alignment with global sustainability goals, Portugal has invested significantly in renewable energy. The emphasis on wind and solar power creates opportunities for businesses involved in clean energy solutions.
  • Creative Industries – Portugal’s rich cultural heritage provides fertile ground for businesses in the creative industries. Whether in design, arts, or crafts, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to showcase and commercialize their creative talents. Cultural events and festivals contribute to the vibrancy of this sector.

Top 5 Tips For Entrepreneurs

Although Portugal has a good environment for starting and thriving in business, take a look at our top tips for entrepreneurs, which are guaranteed to help you along the process.

Navigating legal and regulatory frameworks

Let’s start off with one of the most important tips for entrepreneurs in any region! 

To run a successful business in Portugal, you need to work and operate within the laws of the land. Business registration and structure are some of the first things you must consider. 

Entrepreneurs in Portugal can choose from various legal forms, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LDA).

Regarding business registration, the Business Registry (Registo Nacional de Pessoas Coletivas) manages business registrations. Entrepreneurs must provide the necessary documentation, including identification, a business plan, and details of partners or shareholders. 

Another legal and regulatory framework that is equally important is taxation. You need to be aware of two key taxes as an entrepreneur in Portugal; corporate income tax and Value Added Tax (VAT).

Portugal has a corporate income tax system. Understanding the tax rates, deadlines, and allowable deductions is crucial. Consulting with a tax professional can help optimize the tax strategy. VAT applies to most goods and services. Businesses must register for VAT if their turnover exceeds a certain threshold. 

Compliance with VAT regulations is essential to avoid penalties. Something else worth mentioning is employment laws. Entrepreneurs must comply with Portuguese labor laws when hiring employees. 

Employment contracts should include essential terms, and employers must adhere to regulations regarding working hours, leave, and termination procedures. Other additional tips for entrepreneurs when it comes to legal and regulatory frameworks are;

  • Intellectual Property (IP) Protection
  • Data Protection and Privacy
  • Environmental and Industry-specific Regulations
  • Legal Assistance and Advisory Services

As an expat, understanding the legal and regulatory frameworks is easier said than done. You need to contend with different legal lingo you might not know. In that case, we recommend working closely with professionals who will walk with you along the journey.

Networking and building connections

In our list of tips for entrepreneurs, networking and building connections are paramount for entrepreneurs in Portugal, as in any other business environment. Establishing and maintaining a strong professional network offers numerous benefits that can significantly contribute to the success of entrepreneurs in Portugal. 

Networking opens doors to a plethora of opportunities. Entrepreneurs can discover potential clients, partners, investors, and collaborators through networking events, industry conferences, and business gatherings.

Also, it provides the perfect avenue for collaboration and partnerships. You can find complementary businesses or individuals with whom you can collaborate on projects, share resources, and mutually benefit. 

Active participation in networking events and business community engagement enhances an entrepreneur’s visibility. Building a positive reputation within the network contributes to brand building and can attract potential customers and investors.

Here are some strategies if you are looking to network and build connections in Portugal effectively:

  • Participate in Industry Events
  • Join Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce
  • Utilize Co-Working Spaces
  • Attend Networking Meetups and Workshops
  • Seek Mentors and Advisors

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Embracing innovation and technology

For any business in today’s world to stay competitive, drive growth, and contribute to the evolving business landscape, it is necessary to keep up with technology. Looking at recent trends, there is no doubt that businesses that use innovation and technology are doing better than others. 

Fortunately, Portugal has made strides in fostering a culture of innovation, and entrepreneurs can leverage various strategies to harness the power of technology for their ventures.

One way of taking advantage of technology in business and entrepreneurship is through digital marketing. Utilize social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization to reach a wider audience. 

E-commerce is growing in Portugal, so ensure your business has a robust online platform. Consider implementing data analytics tools to gain insights into your customer behavior, market trends, and operational efficiency. 

Remember, numbers don’t lie, and business intelligence solutions can help make informed decisions and optimize business processes.

Lastly, stay informed about technological trends. Regularly monitor global and local technological trends to identify opportunities relevant to your industry. Attend tech conferences, webinars, and workshops to stay updated on emerging technologies.

Market Research

When it comes to the top tips for entrepreneurs in Portugal, conducting proper market research has to be among the top. It is a crucial step for entrepreneurs looking to enter the Portuguese market. 

A well-informed understanding of the local business environment, consumer behavior, and industry dynamics is essential for making informed business decisions.

First, clearly outline the objectives of your market research. Understand whether you are entering a new market, launching a new product, or assessing the competition. The next order of business is to define your target audience in Portugal. 

Consider demographics, psychographics, and behavior patterns relevant to your product or service. Make use of existing data from public documentation and government registries to further your research in your area of interest. 

Also, conduct surveys or interviews to understand consumer preferences, buying habits, and expectations. Analyze social media trends and online discussions to gauge public sentiment. 

This way, you will be able to gauge the reception for the particular product or service you want to introduce. When it comes to market research, there are so many avenues you can explore as an entrepreneur in Portugal.

Do your due diligence, get the right information, and consult with industry-specific professionals before finally opening up your business. This proactive approach enhances the chances of success and sustainability in a dynamic business environment.


Managing Finances and Budgeting Wisely

Although often understated, this is one of the few tips for entrepreneurs determining success in Portugal or any other business environment. Sound financial management ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, costs are controlled, and the business remains financially healthy. 

Your business plan is one tool that will help you stay ahead of your finances. Develop a detailed business plan that includes financial projections, anticipated expenses, and revenue forecasts. Clearly outline your business goals and the financial strategies you will implement to achieve them.

Something else that will come in handy when it comes to managing finances and budgeting is coming up with a realistic budget. Create a realistic and detailed budget that covers all aspects of your business, including operating expenses, marketing, employee salaries, and contingency funds. 

Regularly review and update your budget to reflect changes in business conditions. Lastly, keep an eye on the cash flow of your business. Implement efficient invoicing and payment collection processes to ensure a steady cash flow.

Embracing Portuguese Business Culture

Concluding the top tips for entrepreneurs, let’s talk about something that is relevant if you want your business to succeed in Portugal. 

In recent years, Portugal has experienced notable changes in its economic landscape, transitioning from a conventional manufacturing and agriculture-focused economy to a more varied and service-centric one. 

The nation’s favorable business environment, strategic geographical position, and advantageous tax incentives have positioned it as an attractive and sought-after hub for foreign investment and entrepreneurial ventures.

Portuguese business culture is based on establishing genuine interpersonal relationships with prospective clients and business partners. Something else worth noting is that professionalism is also well appreciated. 

The use of business cards and formal titles is an integral part of the Portuguese business culture. Lastly, while work is important, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is valued. Portuguese professionals appreciate their leisure time and often prioritize family and personal lives.

Startup accelerators and incubators in Portugal

Startup accelerators and incubators are programs designed to support early-stage companies and entrepreneurs in developing and growing their businesses. Accelerator programs are typically short-term, ranging from a few weeks to a few months. 

Startups go through an intensive and focused program to accelerate their growth. On the other hand, incubators offer a more extended support period than accelerators. Startups can stay in an incubator for several months or even years.

Portugal has a growing and vibrant startup ecosystem supported by various accelerators and incubators that provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for early-stage companies. 

Let’s face it, the journey of developing a business from its infancy stage to where it is well established is often hard. Here are some of the popular startup accelerators and incubators you can use in Portugal:

  • Startup Lisboa
  • Beta-i
  • UPTEC – Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto
  • Portugal Ventures
  • Bright Pixel
  • Fabrica de Startups

Where do entrepreneurs in Portugal live?

The whole of Portugal is open for business. However, it is quite common for entrepreneurs to operate close to the major cities in the country. 

Larger cities like Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve are some places with a high concentration of foreign and local entrepreneurs. That said, the choice of where to live often depends on factors such as business opportunities, lifestyle preferences, and personal circumstances.

Do you need a Business Visa to Portugal?

For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in Portugal, we trust that the provided tips for entrepreneurs have offered valuable insights into the business landscape of Portugal. When you decide to initiate your new venture in Portugal, feel free to contact our team of experts at Viv Europe

We are committed to guiding you through every phase of the process, from applying for a D2 Business Visa to navigating the intricacies of legal and regulatory frameworks!

Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats. Read other expats’ stories and get inspired! 



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