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Becoming self-employed

Setting up your own business in 5 steps

Take the leap to entrepreneurship without any worries

Starting your own business is an exciting event and naturally you want it to go smoothly. Use the step-by-step plan, read how you can start without a large start-up capital, or how much setting up a business will cost you.
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Setting up your own business in 5 steps
Start your own business in 5 easy steps
  • Prepare thoroughly
  • Choose the right status
  • Set up your business at a Securex enterprise counter
  • Join a social insurance fund as a self-employed person
  • Take care of your paperwork
Step-by-step-plan

Step-by-step plan to start your own business

If you have an idea and a business plan, you are ready to get started. Here we review all the steps you still need to take to set up your business.

You don't have an idea or a plan yet? Then first read on:

Start your business in 5 steps:

1. Get prepared

You ended up here, so you are already well prepared!

In addition to working out your idea into a plan, you should also check whether you meet the conditions to be able to practise the profession of your dreams. As a lawyer, for example, you must complete a three-year traineeship. If you work with food, for example, you must also hold the necessary certificates or permits.

In short, make sure that you are allowed to practice the profession. If you start up in Brussels or Wallonia, you will also need a degree in business management or sufficient practical experience, which is not the case in Flanders.

Read more about the requirements for having your own business

At this stage, it’s also worth checking whether you have sufficient financial resources to proceed to           step 2: choosing your company form or legal status. Normally, you will have already done this when drawing up your business plan. Do you still need help in choosing the right company form? Then you can (virtually) go to a Securex business counter or to your accountant.

2. Choose a company form or legal status

Are you going for a sole proprietorship or for a company? If you opt for a company, you will also have to choose the appropriate company form:

  • A private limited company (bv) – the former bvba.
  • A limited partnership (CommV)
  • A public limited company (nv)
  • A cooperative society (cv)
  • A partnership

Check here which company form is appropriate for you.

3. Setting up your business

In this step, everything becomes concrete:

  • Open a business bank account with a Belgian bank 
  • Apply for a company number at a Securex enterprise counter or do so yourself online
  • The counter also takes care of the mandatory registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) and can, if needed, also activate your VAT number.

This makes your own business official and known to the Belgian authorities. Did you know that, with Securex, you can already be fully up and running and legally compliant from as little as €199? Discover our starter packs!

4. Join as a self-employed person

Your business has been set up, but you have yet to join a social insurance fund. As a self-employed person, you are responsible for your own social security, this is no longer taken care of via an employer.

Depending on whether you start working full-time as a self-employed person, you will start either as a main or secondary occupation.

5. Arrange a number of practical matters

Before you get down to work, there are a number of things you should do. Let your health insurance fund know that you have started working as a self-employed person. If you have children, inform the child allowance fund that pays child allowances.

Finally, you can still protect yourself should things get a bit more difficult, such as liability in the event of conflicts or problems, or if you fall ill. As a self-employed person, you don't receive the same pension as an employee, so it’s wise to make extra provisions for this via a free supplementary pension for self-employed persons (VAPZ).

Once you have gone through all the steps, you will have set up your own business and started as a self-employed. Good luck!

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Starting a business without money

Starting a business without money

In the course of your self-employed activity, the aim is to generate sufficient income. However, at the start, you don't know how things will turn out. You don't have a crystal ball. Therefore, you might prefer to start without incurring too many financial risks.

It’s advisable to take a number of start-up costs into account. 

However, if you don't have to rent a business, buy expensive equipment or provide a large stock, it’s possible to start with little money.

Starting financially smart? Book a chat with one of our experts.

Starting your own business without (a lot of) money or risk

Start small, invest smartly

As a self-employed person, you may deduct professional expenses, but don't forget that this only pays off if you have sufficient income and pay taxes on it. In the beginning, only buy what you really need and avoid unnecessary expenses. The coffee shop around the corner is great, but many entrepreneurs start at their kitchen table.

Tip: Did you know that you can deduct the costs of setting up your business as professional expenses?

Opt for the appropriate company form

As indicated above, you can choose between starting up as a sole proprietorship or as a company.

One of the advantages of a sole proprietorship is that you don't need start-up capital. The start-up costs are also very limited.

For other company forms, there are major differences in terms of the start-up capital required and the costs associated with setting up the company. When you set up a company, there are five basic company forms:

  • A private limited company (bv) 
  • A limited partnership (CommV)
  • A public limited company (nv)
  • A cooperative society (cv)
  • A partnership

However, be aware that there are also interesting options such as a limited partnership (CommV) or a general partnership (VOF). Discover the different company forms, but be sure to ask your accountant or notary.

Are you still unsure? We can help you choose between a sole proprietorship or a company

Starting as a secondary occupation

As a self-employed person as a secondary occupation, you pay fewer social security contributions: for the first three years, you pay a provisional contribution of  €82,47 euro per quarter.  This is calculated on the basis of 20.5% on a (net) taxable income of €1,548.18. Thus, not a high risk. Supposing things go well, you will have to pay an adjustment after three years.

Main and secondary occupation

Setting up a business as a main or secondary occupation

You can't just choose. There are a number of conditions attached to the status of self-employed as main and secondary occupation. The essential difference, however, is that in Belgium you must always contribute to social security. As an employee, you do this through your employer; as a self-employed person, you do this directly by paying social security contributions every quarter.

As a self-employed person as your main occupation, you are fully responsible for your social security and you pay higher social security contributions. As a self-employed person as a secondary occupation, you pay lower social security contributions, however, you can only start with this status if you work at least 50% as an employee. As mentioned above, you will then make sufficient social security contributions via your employer.

Make the right choice: difference between main occupation and secondary occupation.

Costs

Costs of starting your own business

Costs of your business

As a self-employed person, you are responsible for the success and financial results of your business. However, in order to make a profit, you will anyway have to incur certain costs. You can split these into three large blocks:

  • Start-up costs
  • Operating costs: costs of running your business
  • Customer acquisition costs

We will go over them for you.

Costs of starting up your own business

Most of the costs go towards setting up your business:

  • Registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). This is done by the Securex business counters and costs €89.50 (no VAT applicable).
  • Activating the VAT number is also done by the enterprise counter and costs €60.00 (excl. VAT).

Finally, you also pay social security contributions from the start of your business and you may also need a number of licences. The cost of these depends on which permits you require. You can start up your business and be fully legally compliant from €199 thanks to our starter packs.

That is, however, if you don't have to go through a notary and/or provide start-up capital, which is the case if you choose a company. Read more about the different company forms.

Operating costs

Exactly what costs you will incur will depend on what you will do, but below you will find a brief overview of the possible costs you might face:

  • Equipment:
    It goes without saying that you will need equipment to be able to work. As a freelancer you may have enough with a laptop. However, if you start as a craftsman, those costs will be a lot higher. The same applies to the place where you will be working. Is that mainly at your kitchen table, or do you need commercial premises?
  • An accountant:
    It makes sense to have an accountant on board, but you are going to have to pay for that. However, you should not simply choose the cheapest accountant, but one who thinks with you. After all, a good accountant will save you a lot of expenses and will ensure that you can fully concentrate on your business..
  • Insurances:
    Some insurances are mandatory, such as fire insurance and, in most cases, you must also take out professional liability insurance. If not, there is no harm in considering it. As a self-employed person, it’s also worthwhile increasing your social protection for more difficult times.
  • Staff:
    If you immediately start with staff, there will be some costs involved. In consultation with your social secretariat you can make a series of wage calculations, so that you can incorporate this information in your financial planning.

Customer acquisition costs

At the start of your business, you can probably count on first prospective customers through your own network. However, at some point, you will also have to attract customers from elsewhere. And then, you will also have to invest. Think about:

  • Your own logo and corporate identity
  • A website, including a web partner, domain name and hosting 
  • Publicity and advertising
  • Anything you can do to reach customers.

Always weigh up whether the costs are worth the benefits, and make sure you include everything in your financial plan. Spending money to attract clients is sensible, just about every entrepreneur does so, but it’s important that you know what returns these expenditures will bring you. Only then can you find out which channels work best for you.

Set up your business via the Securex business counter Make an (online) appointment
This might also be of interest to you:
Sole proprietorship

When starting your own business, you have to choose whether to opt for a sole proprietorship or a company. Here you can read all about sole proprietorships.

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Company forms explained

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Social security contributions for the self-employed

Self-employed workers pay social security contributions to ensure their social rights, such as sickness allowances and pensions.

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