Types of enterprise

The phrases type of enterprise and legal form are used interchangeably. What is at stake is the legal form in which the company, organisation or institution is cast. Some knowledge of the different types of enterprise is not only important if you intend to start a business yourself. It is also worthwhile to find out about the legal form if you work for or with a different business. Then you know who is authorised to take decisions and who is responsible if something goes wrong.

When do you start an enterprise?

  • When you accept and execute contracts or intend to do so.
    Every entrepreneur operates within a type of enterprise. If you do not make a choice, the law will treat you as a sole trader.
  • If you receive a project subsidy
    Project subsidies are almost always only given to legal forms with a legal entity. This means that as a private person (the legal term is ‘natural person’), you are not financially liable, but you are not authorised to take decisions on your own either. You apply for a grant, travel or study allowance if you are a natural person.

Which type of enterprise is appropriate for me?

In choosing the right type of enterprise, four aspects are important: financial liability, capital, cooperation, and income tax/social security. Financial liability is the hardest of these aspects.

Types of enterprise with or without legal entity
There are two kinds of legal forms: a legal personality with and without legal entity. If your legal personality is with legal entity, creditors cannot lay any claim to your private possessions. If your legal personality is without legal enitity, they can.

  • Types of enterprise with legal entity:
    The foundation, the cooperative association, the private limited company (BV) and the limited liability company (NV).
  • Types of enterprise without legal entity:
    The sole proprietorship, the partnership, the general partnership (VOF) and the commandite partnership (CV).

Starting up an enterprise

You have to visit the solicitor to start up a legal personality with legal entity, so that applies, for example, to the foundation and the private company. This is not necessary when you start an enterprise without legal enitity, but it is advisable to record agreements if you start an enterprise with other people. You can do that at the solicitor’s office too.

All enterprises must be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce.