Self-employed as a main or secondary occupation
So you are considering becoming self-employed as a main or secondary occupation? Great, this is a good first step towards entrepreneurship! Ultimately, you decide how drastic this step will be for you. Below we list the conditions andto do’s that follow from your choice.
As a self-employed person, you can perform assignments as your main occupation or as a secondary occupation. If you want to be 100% independent, your self-employed activity should be your main activity. Your independent activity is then your most important activity. You thus do not have an employment contract with an employer.
If you are not quite ready for this leap, your self-employed activity can also be your secondary occupation. In that case, you combine your self-employed activities with a job as an employee (for at least 50%).
How do I get started?
Before becoming self-employed, either as your main or a secondary occupation, you must first complete the necessary administrative formalities. You have to arrange a number of things yourself. You can rely on a recognised business counter for most other things (The recognised business counters | FPS Economy (fgov.be)).
An overview of your first tasks as a self-employed person who is starting a business:
- Open a checking account. As a self-employed person, you must have a checking account in the name of your business with a Belgian bank. A tip: keep your private and professional transactions strictly separate.
- Check your permits. For some industries you need a permit, such as an alcohol or food permit. Check this in advance with your municipality or professional federation.
- Register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. This is an obligation for starting entrepreneurs, as is applying for a (unique) company number.
- Activate your company number as a VAT number. That way you can easily collect and pay VAT.
- Check whether you need additional permits or registrations. Check whether additional obligations apply to your profession, such as an export or environmental licence or specific regulations for service professions.
- Join a social insurance fund and a health insurance fund. That way you have social protection as a self-employed person and you are also in order with the health insurance.
- Establish a company. Unless you prefer to operate as a sole trader.
- Which (fixed) costs do I have to take into account?
Drawing up a robust business plan is always a good idea before starting your business. In addition to the necessary budget to keep your business running on a daily basis, you should also foresee some extra (fixed) costs:
- Start-up cost. Setting up a sole proprietorship costs approximately €160. This increases to approx. €1,500 for a company.
- Social security contributions. You enjoy social protection in exchange for these contributions. These are calculated based on your net taxable income.
- Provincial taxes. Each province applies its own rates which are in the range of €60 to €130. The larger the surface of your company, the higher the bill.
- Taxes. Self-employed persons with a sole proprietorship pay personal income tax on the total of their income from their main and secondary occupation. Do you prefer to establish your own company? In that case, you will be taxed on your profits.
- Insurance. As an entrepreneur (natural person or company) you must insure yourself against unforeseen setbacks such as illness, fire, accidents at work, and so on. Some insurance policies are mandatory, others strongly recommended.
- Accountant. Admittedly, this doesn’t come cheap. But you know what they say: a good accountant is worth his/her weight in gold.
Am I eligible for student-entrepreneur/student-self-employed status?
Are you a student but do you have the ambition to start your own business? In that case, you can take advantage of a specific status under specific conditions.
To avoid confusion: the status of student-entrepreneur is not the same as the status of student-self-employed. Many universities (of applied sciences) offer student-entrepreneurs specific facilities to better align their study obligations with their self-employed activities, giving them the option to reschedule exams or internships, for example. The support you receive strongly depends on the institution in which you have enrolled. Student-entrepreneur status has no legal consequences.
The status of student-self-employed, by contrast, is an official fiscal status. Self-employed students are between the ages of 18 and 25, have completed a full study programme at a recognised educational institution and have or intend to pursue an independent professional activity. As a student-self-employed, you enjoy more favorable tax rates under certain conditions. The general requirements to start out as a self-employed person also apply to you.
More information about these two options. Check: Student-entrepreneur status | Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (vlaio.be).
Curious about your financial picture as a self-employed person in main or secondary occupation?