Belgium is generally a multicultural country, and Belgians are also accustomed to dealing with people from other cultures. Foreigners would be mostly accepted in Belgium, and it is quite easy to start a new business in Belgium. This post attempts to give you a view of everything you need to know at each stage of starting a new business in Belgium.
Key business values in Belgium
For successfully starting a business in Belgium, you should have a look in the following key Belgian business values:
- Regional loyalty
- Work-life balance
- Mutual trust
Strategies for Success when starting a business in Belgium
One thing you should consider when starting a business in Belgium is that you should rather maintain a professional distance with employees or business partners, and do not forget that in Belgium, excessive friendliness may be distrusted.
In addition, when presenting or having a conversation with partners or employees, you should do not present an over-optimistic business situation and push them for a quick decision or reply because it may be viewed as aggressive or confrontational actions.
Management Essentials in Belgium
If you think about the most important cultural attributes when starting a business in Belgium and operating it, they would be:
- Hierarchical structure
- Formal style
- Controlled time
- Direct communication
The most notable point here is the compromise, which is one of the objectives of the business in Belgium. This makes sense when you consider the linguistic divide within the country as well as the strong regional differences. Hence, your decision making tends to be slower since there is a need to find a solution that is workable for everyone involved.
You also expect Belgians to be formal and courteous. In management and business, they respect corporate hierarchy and those who have attained a senior-level position. Since they are private people, they rarely mix their private and business lives. This is also key management essentials when setting up a business in Belgium.
Additionally, Belgians are well-known to have a tendency to be individualistic and prefer to work alone rather than grouping in teams. When putting in a team environment or group work, their gracious good manners come forth, and they work collegially, although they still maintain their individual identity and succeed based on their individual bias. Therefore, if you prepare for setting up the business in Belgium, remember that group harmony must be developed between the team members.
When being entrepreneurship and leading a team, it is imperative that the entrepreneurs should actively promote group harmony and avoids discussions from turning confrontational. If it appears that the situation tends to become too tense, the entrepreneurs should remove the item from discussion until cooler heads prevail.
Funding startups in Belgium
One of the simplest and common ways of funding startups is to use your own funds. Use the below link to find out more benefits available in the form of Notional Interest deduction.
These are usually high network individuals or fund management agencies that manage the same. Angel Investors usually invest in companies at a very nascent stage. This funding can range from a couple of thousand dollars to millions of dollars. The following are a link to some websites that are great places to start looking –
Venture Capitalists: These investors usually buy into a company where there are tangible business model and cash flows to speak of. Crunchbase offers a list of the top venture capitalist investors here (https://www.crunchbase.com/hub/belgium-venture-capital-investors). Hummingbird (https://www.hummingbird.vc/contact) and Volta Venture (https://www.volta.ventures/) are two of the biggest VCs operating in Belgium. You can also visit their sites for more information on raising funds for your company.
Generally, companies can also benefit from special financing programs in Belgium. Small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from European financing if they meet the terms for the loan. Because Belgium has a federal structure, the availability of the loans may be variable from one region to another.
The application procedure varies upon the type of loans, and the maximum amounts committed are also subject to certain restrictions. Public programs that offer to finance to entrepreneurs when setting up a business in Belgium are available.
Tax Laws in Belgium
The reputational and multinational auditing and consulting firms – KPMG also has an overview of taxation in Belgium for foreigners who have income derived from Belgian-source, that they should have income taxes if they are levied on the worldwide income of Belgian residents and the Belgian-source income of non-residents.
In addition, the income taxes shall be calculated by a progressive tax rate ranging from 25% to 50% upon the income. However, the personal allowance would also be applied to deduct for income tax calculation purposes.
Also, you can explore more about Belgian tax, including residence rule, tax filings, taxable compensation, or tax exemption in the following link: https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2011/12/belgium-income-tax.html.
Legal Entities for business in Belgium
According to the International Tax – Belgium Highlights 2019 by Deloitte, these are:
- Limited liability company (SA/NV);
- Private limited liability (SPRL/BVBA);
- Cooperative limited liability (SCRL/CVBA);
- Partnership (SNC/VOF);
If foreign entrepreneurs consider setting up a business in Belgium, the limited liability company (SA/NV) or the private limited liability (SPRL/BVBA) should be concerned, because they are the most commonly used by foreign business in Belgium.
Accounting Standards in Belgium
Also, according to Deloitte, Belgian companies use GAAP for an annual account. Meanwhile, IFRS should also be mandatory for consolidated accounts of listed companies and optional for other companies. However, IFRS may not be used for annual accounts. Therefore, when considering setting up a business in Belgium, entrepreneurs should follow the aforementioned regulations.
For more information, please see in this link by Deloitte: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Tax/dttl-tax-belgiumhighlights-2019.pdf
Office space: Cost of renting in Belgium
According to many foreigners, the cost of living in Belgium is rather high. Specifically, if setting up a business in Belgium and an apartment for operation is mandatory, you must pay the quite high prices, ranging from EUR630 to nearly EUR1200 per month, upon the size of the apartment, the location (expensive area, such as Brussels, Antwerp, etc., or normal area).
In addition, for more details, you can find some reference on average prices here:
For more details on the costs of living, you can visit the following page