Step-by-step plan starting as a self-employed person

Would you like to officially start working as a self-employed person, or have you just started doing so? If so, describe your activities, type of enterprise, company name and use that to register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. After that, you should set up your administrative records and cover your entrepreneurial risks.

1. When do you form a company as a self-employed person?

You can tackle working as a self-employed person in various ways. You can accept assignments and you can have your client pay you a salary. In that case, you get paid through a payroll firm and you do not have to keep records yourself or run a company. In addition, you can send an invoice for one-off assignments, which you declare with your income tax return. Are you regularly going to be carrying out assignments that you would like to invoice? If so, that is seen as a ‘permanent business’ and you must then officially register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, KvK). You can start working as a self-employed worker without employees (zelfstandige zonder personeel, zzp’er) or perhaps you would like to employ staff.

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Commissioned work

2. Determine your activities

What do you want to do within your company? Does that just involve one type of activity, or would you like to combine various things, such as performing, creating, designing, teaching? You can register several activities. If you are going to register with the Chamber of Commerce, you must declare these activities.

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Business plan

3. Choose a type of enterprise

You usually start as a self-employed person with a sole proprietorship. You can only have one of those. Therefore, if you are undertaking a variety of activities, these will all fall under that one sole proprietorship. If it is a big success (profit), a private limited company (bv) can be an option. In addition, it is also not unusual in the arts and cultural sector to set up a foundation (stichting) if you frequently want to apply for subsidies – as a self-employed person you can also send an invoice to your own foundation.

4. Choose a good company name

Choose an appropriate and clear company name, which will set you apart. You will keep records under this name and you will use this when contacting the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst), Chamber of Commerce and your clients (on invoices). Please note: you have one company name, but you can use several trade names. In this way, you can easily use several brands or distinguish between the services/products you provide. Because you can only have one sole proprietorship, it is wise to make sure that the name which you use to register with the Chamber of Commerce is in keeping with all the other trade names/brands you want to use. Tip: you should also check straight away whether the web address that you would like to use is available.

5. Register with the Chamber of Commerce

Make an appointment with the Chamber of Commerce. Here you will state that you want to form a sole proprietorship and the types of services or products you are planning to provide and in which sector (your activities). So-called SBI codes will be linked to this during the registration. In terms of activities, your company can fall under one or several SBI codes. You can changes this at any time after your registration. When forming a company, it will be determined whether you are eligible for a VAT number (btw-nummer). Tip: make sure that you are properly informed about the requirements for forming a company by looking at the Chamber of Commerce website.

6. Setting up records

If you are starting a company, you are also responsible for keeping clear and proper records for this. Make sure that you have a single set of records for all your activities for your sole proprietorship. You also keep records for the turnover tax if you have been allocated a VAT number. If you are starting a sole proprietorship, make sure that you keep proper time records in order to be eligible for tax allowance for self-employed persons (and possibly relief for new businesses). You are obliged to keep your business records for seven years.

7. Insure yourself

By insuring yourself against damage, liability and loss of income, you will reduce your entrepreneurial risks. Make a list of your risks in the short and long term. For example, consider business liability insurance, invalidity insurance and pension provisions. In addition, there are special insurance policies for the arts and culture sector, such as machinery and equipment insurance for your valuable items.

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Insurances

Liability

8. Drawing up general terms and conditions

You can also reduce your entrepreneurial risks by drawing up general terms and conditions. This is not compulsory. They deal with expectations and liability between the provider and the client. You can have these recorded by the Chamber of Commerce, publish them on your website and include them, in any case, with quotations and/or contracts. See whether you can make use of examples from your professional association, have a lawyer take a look at them or outsource this.

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Legal advice

9. Optimising findability

Once your company has been formed, you also have to be (and remain) findable for potential clients and customers. Arrange your own website, for example, or a profile on social media channels. You can also make a marketing plan in which you set out in concrete terms how you plan to put your product or service on the market.

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Marketing