Become self-employed, step by step

Become self-employed, step by step

 Becoming self-employed is not something to take lightly. Before you begin, answer a few key questions to make sure you know where you stand and have everything you need. With this step-by-step plan, you will confidently and successfully become self-employed. 

  • In what do you want to become self-employed?
  • Which company type should you choose: sole proprietorship or company?
  • Do you want to become self-employed as a main or secondary occupation?
  • What costs do you have to incur to become independent?

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1. In what do you want to become self-employed?

Before setting up your business, it is of course crucial that you know what you want to do as a self-employed person. Some important questions to answer, are:

  • In which sector do you want to work?
  • Do you want to sell products or services, or maybe a combination?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Can you rely on inspiration from others?
  • Is there sufficient demand for your offer and the way you present it?
  • Who is your audience and how do you reach them?
  • Do you want to start as a freelancer or would you rather select a different status?


To answer all these questions in a substantiated and structured way, it is best to draw up a business plan. Even if a business plan is not mandatory - for example if you set up a sole proprietorship - you still gain a lot of valuable information from it.

In wat wil je zelfstandige worden?

Which company type is best: sole proprietorship or company?

Since the reform of company types in 2019, there are a lot fewer company types than before, a major simplification.


Although there are a few different company types, the biggest decision you have to make is whether you want to start a sole proprietorship or a company. An overview of the advantages and pitfalls:


2.1 Advantages of a sole proprietorship

  • A sole proprietorship is very easy to start and run. Accountancy is quite simple and there is little involved in the start-up process.
  • There’s no required starting capital, you can start immediately with what you have.
  • Since you’re the only owner, you can make all decisions yourself. You are also very flexible in how much you pay yourself monthly.

2.2 Pitfalls of a sole proprietorship

  • You remain a natural person and therefore pay personal income tax on all your income. Personal income tax is quite a lot higher than company tax, meaning you end up paying a lot more.
  • The fact that you remain a natural person also makes you personally liable when issues arise. You are not protected and you bear all financial risks yourself.
  • Selling your business is more difficult with a sole proprietorship. Moreover, you then pay the higher personal taxes on the profits from your sale.

2.3 Advantages of a company

  • Advantageous corporate taxes mean that you have more left over at the end of the day.
  • Liability is limited and you are better protected because the legal entity of your company is liable, not you as a natural person.
  • The articles of association drafted when you start your company regulate your way of working and create transparency. Moreover, you can easily hand over your company to someone else when you want to. You don't even need a notarial deed for it.

2.4 Pitfalls of a company

  • You have to engage a notary for the starting procedure which requires more starting capital. It’s also a more complex process to get everything running smoothly.
  • Stricter accounting requires more support and makes payments more complex than with a sole proprietorship.
  • You pay yourself a predetermined wage, but all your profits and additional income remain tied up in your company for several years before you can enjoy them at a lower tax bracket.

Download the infographic

Do you want to become self-employed as a main or secondary occupation?

You don't have to jump in the deep end to become self-employed. Depending on your business plan, your vision for the future and your own preferences, you may prefer to start as a secondary occupation, regardless of whether you opt for a sole proprietorship or company.

A short comparison between starting a main or a secondary occupation:

Hoofdberoep of bijberoep kiezen?

4. Welke kosten komen kijken bij zelfstandige worden?

Als je zelfstandig start, hou je het best rekening met een aantal kosten. Hoewel de exacte details afhankelijk zijn van uiteenlopende factoren - ondernemingsvorm, sociaal statuut, inkomen, invulling - krijg je sowieso te maken met deze kosten als je zelfstandige wordt.

  • Oprichtingskosten: voor een vennootschap heb je startkapitaal nodig, als eenmanszaak betaal je bijvoorbeeld je inschrijving bij het ondernemingsloket.
  • Administratieve kosten: als je vergunningen nodig hebt of na je oprichting bijkomende NACEBEL-codes aanvraagt, betaal je administratieve en verwerkingskosten.
  • Sociale bijdragen: per kwartaal betaal je sociale bijdragen aan je sociaal verzekeringsfonds. Hoe je sociale bijdragen worden berekend, hangt af van verschillende factoren.
  • Boekhouder: een goede boekhouder bewaakt de deadlines voor je btw-aangiftes, berekent je personenbelastingen en kan je waardevol advies geven.
  • Verzekeringen: vooral in hoofdberoep, maar ook in bijberoep investeer je het best in enkele slimme verzekeringen. Welke verzekeringen jij nodig hebt, hangt af van je jobinhoud en statuut.
  • Belastingen: op elke factuur die je uitschrijft, betaal je btw. Die hou je dus altijd zelf apart in afwachting van je btw-aangifte en de daaropvolgende betaling. Daarnaast betaal je ook vennootschaps- en/of personenbelastingen, afhankelijk van je ondernemingsvorm.

Krijg advies

Niet zeker welke ondernemingsvorm het best bij je past? Heb je verdere vragen? Krijg dan vrijblijvend advies van de experts van Brainbridge om slim zelfstandige te worden.

Deals voor startende zelfstandigen

Met ons zelfstandigen-initiatief "The Bridge" willen we zelfstandigen kortingen bieden op de aankoop van belangrijke diensten of producten.
Dit scheelt de zelstandigen die bij ons zijn aangesloten een mooi bedrag per jaar dat ze voor andere leuke dingen kunnen gebruiken.

  • Het is eenvoudig en snel: claim uw deals snel en gemakkelijk!
  • We kunnen deals voor u sluiten voor een breed scala aan producten en diensten.
  • Met The Bridge deals wordt je zelfstandige leven supergemakkelijk
  • Het is gratis 

Heb je nog vragen of wil je graag meer info? Contacteer ons!

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