Working for yourself: a dream that many people secretly have in the back of their minds. But where do you start, and where can you go if you run into something? We take you into the success story of Melissa Riem Vis from The Hague, director of APK-oké.

Melissa is at the head of APK-okay Netherlands. “Our company only performs APK inspections, no maintenance. In the regions where we are active, including The Hague, we are the only ones who do this. The idea is that we can inspect cars independently and the customer goes home with an honest opinion. So you don’t pay for repairs that were not necessarily necessary. In The Hague alone we now inspect about eight to nine percent of all cars that are MOT worthy. In comparison: a large undisclosed company approves about four percent. I am proud that we have built that up in ten years!”

With the spoon

The inspectors inspect the cars and Melissa is in charge of the day-to-day management of the company. It involves everything from marketing to customer service. “Everything that doesn’t have to do with the cars themselves”, Melissa laughs. From day one, Melissa was involved with the company, albeit in a completely different role. “I started as a receptionist. Over the years I have grown. I never expected that myself, but my previous employer already thought so, I heard! My father has always worked in the car industry, so that world was no stranger to me.”

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Melissa for her company APK-okay| Photo via Ondernemers Portal

Tips for entrepreneurs

APK-okay can be found in the Binckhorst. “This area has been under development for years,” says Melissa. “We have deliberately established ourselves here, despite all the planned work and changes. This has always been the car heart of The Hague, so we thought that was a great idea. Due to this changing area, we are in regular contact with the municipality and I sometimes went to meetings such as the OndernemersBreakfast. This is how I came into contact with

the Ondernemersportaal

: an online platform of the municipality. Here you will find all kinds of useful information for your company, for example about permits, parking, taxes and subsidies. Especially if you’ve just started or run into some problems, it’s great that you can come here.”

Stay at the Binckhorst

Melissa’s company has fortunately not had to endure too many difficulties and continues to flourish. “We have always been financially healthy, which is great. My wish for the future? A new branch, in Amsterdam, would be great. But above all I hope that we can continue to do business in The Hague on the Binckhorst, we would like to stay here.”

Help as a starter

“If you have a good idea, you should always try it”, Melissa advises if you are thinking about starting your own business. “If it fails, that’s okay, at least you tried. Check in advance whether there is room in the city or whether it is better to look at a suburban municipality, because there are currently few business premises.” Also nice to know: especially as a starting entrepreneur, the municipality will help you, says Melissa. “In The Hague, for example, you can apply for an exemption from the OZB (property tax) for the first five years, which we also did with the help of the Ondernemers portal. That helps, because in the beginning you incur a lot of costs while not much is coming in.”

Also starting or seasoned entrepreneur in The Hague? You can contact

the Ondernemers portal

completely free of charge for advice on rules, permits and procedures of the municipality and fun networking events.

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