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1. Learn about freelancing

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Identify your skills and strengths for freelancing.

! Beyond the thing you are great at, you’ll also need to market yourself, do sales, negotiate and manage your finances and much more…

Explore freelancing in Belgium, especially legal requirements.

! Watch out for visa statuses: if you are from outside the EU, you’ll need a “professional card”. 

 

! In Belgium, you have to register your activity from the start

 

! Some industries have a lot of regulations

Connect with resources and peers for support.

! Talk with freelancers already doing what you are seeking to do. This will help you make the most informed decision, and people are surprisingly friendly. You are not alone – though it can feel that way among a sea of employed people.

2. Choose an administrative direction

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Define your idea of (financial) success and any limitations (e.g. time and money).

! Not having a tangible goal to measure success by, what do you need to survive, live and thrive?

! Be cautious about free work

! Putting your health or finances at risk by not having clear boundaries

Choose a legal framework

There are three key options in Belgium: 

1. Sole Proprietorship
2. Limited Company
3. Payrolling

And there are extra options for part-time freelancing

Complete registration and startup formalities.

! Be prepared to add your activities under “NACE codes”

! Timeframes will vary depending on which format you choose – in Flanders it takes about 1 month to register a limited company.

E-book by Securex and Freelancers in Belgium: Start2Freelance

3. Protect yourself financially

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Understand your tax obligations and/or hire an accountant.

! VAT exemptions apply

! Belgium is complicated; be sure to get information for your region (Brussels, Flanders, Wallonia!)

Sign up for a social security provider

! This is compulsory for self-employed

! Register the right month to avoid paying social security for “un-used” months; January, April, July & October. You may start working before and invoice later.

! Startup costs can retrospectively be deducted as professional costs 3 months before starting.

We recommend our community partner Securex

Obtain insurance to protect your business

! Professional liability insurance protects you in case something goes wrong

! Guaranteed income insurance gives you peace of mind if you cannot work.

! Extra pension saving is deductible and comes with a tax benefit, but there are other options for saving for your pension.

! Ask for quotes from multiple brokers

 

Article by Curvo: How Belgian Freelancers Can Retire on Their Own Terms.

We recommend insurance providers ING and Securex

4. Set up financial systems

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Open a dedicated business bank account.

! Muddling personal and business expenses. If you mix the tax authorities have the right to look into your account

Define how you’ll invoice and receive payments.

! There are a few legal things that need to be on every invoice, make sure you have a template before you need it. 

! Make sure you understand your VAT status

! Don’t miss out on tax benefits for copyright invoicing if you are a creative freelancer

Articles by Accountable: Learn about invoicing

We recommend copyright invoicing expert: Creative Shelter

Set up a system to manage your finances and paperwork.

See the offer of our community partner Accountable

Check out tools tips by our member Sanne Van Broeck

5. Create your offer

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Research your ideal clients and the problems you can solve.

! Clearly define Who, what, how, why, why you?

Define how you will work as a freelancer 

Ask questions like do you want one long-term or several short-term clients? Will you work in a transactional vs. relational way? One size fits all vs. tailormade, online vs. offline. Will you teach, do operational tasks, or advise? Or a mix? 

 

Decide on pricing strategies.

! Most freelancers start with an hourly, or day rate – but move away from that as soon as you can if possible.

6. Find and sign your first client

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Decide where and how you will attract clients and start doing this.

! Don’t try to be at too many places at the same time.

Find an agreement on terms and conditions

! Not creating clear expectations with clear, legal definitions

 

! How to deal with overtime, extra requests and revisions

 

 

Sell it! Close the deal!

! You will need to talk about money. This can be unexpectedly uncomfortable. 

 

! Strike a balance between building a great relationship and selling your services.

 

7. Deliver your first project

Do this:

Watch out for: 

Resources:

Let your expertise shine and aim for a happy client.

! As the saying goes, it’s impossible to be fast, cheap and good simultaneously!

 

! Underpromise and overdeliver 

 

! Communicate a lot

Ask for tips in the Freelancers in Belgium group

Send your first invoice to get paid.

! Legal requirements for what an invoice has to include.

 

! Make sure to agree when you’ll invoice in advance.

 

! Watch out for excuses for late payments, stop working if you are not getting paid!

Article by Accountable: Free invoice template

Reflect on your progress and refine your approach.

! Get client feedback and ask for references and referrals

 

! Take time to consider improvements

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