Starting your own business: here’s what to expect

More and more Belgians want to start their own business. So, it’s possible that you’re considering the same idea. Do you still have doubts? Would you like to know what’s involved? Starting your own business is a big step, so think it through very carefully. Use this article as a guide.

Is starting a business right for you?

Only start your own business if you are 100% sure about it. Life as a self-employed entrepreneur is very different from being an employee.

According to figures from Unizo and UCM, 120,478 new sole proprietorships and companies were established in 2023. While this is a significant increase, the same report shows that many businesses also shut down.

This indicates that while many people want to become entrepreneurs, it's far from easy to instantly create a successful business. Entrepreneurship involves risks, and you need to be aware of that. If this scares you, starting your own business may not be for you.

Making your dream come true

But when is the right time? How do you know if starting a business is for you? It often begins with a dream—the dream of becoming your own boss and making your own decisions. You are in charge of your own company.

Do you dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
Do you dream of becoming an entrepreneur?

This means you can also determine your own work-life balance. You choose how many hours you work each week. However, it’s important to note that life as an entrepreneur can be very busy. You will work long hours, and at times, there won't be much free time left.

Perhaps you've always wanted to be a hairdresser, personal coach, or barista. In that case, starting your own business is a logical step. It’s an opportunity to earn money from your passion and your strengths.

This can bring you satisfaction, both now and in the future. You can grow your business, hire your own employees, and no two days will be the same. Maybe that’s exactly what you need!

Starting a business: the first steps

If you want to start your own business, begin by thoroughly evaluating your idea or concept. This is the very first step. Hopefully, you’ve found a gap in the market, but always consider that there might be little demand for what you want to offer or sell.

For instance, you can conduct a small market analysis. Don’t be intimidated by this; the analysis doesn’t have to be complicated.

You need to determine who your target audience is, what your potential customers are looking for (and how you can meet their needs), who your competitors are, and what you need to launch your business (startup capital, retail space, inventory, etc.).

To map everything out as accurately as possible, you can send out surveys, use social media, take a look at your competition, and search for useful information on the internet.

You need to set up a business plan.
You need to set up a business plan.

Starting your own business including a business plan

Starting your own business can be done in various ways. There are two main types of business structures: a sole proprietorship and a corporation.

A sole proprietorship is set up by an individual. In this case, there is no clear separation between your personal assets and those of your business.

A corporation is equivalent to a business with legal personality. It is an independent enterprise that stands entirely on its own legally. A corporation has its own rights, obligations, and most importantly, its own assets that are separate from the assets of its partners. You can read more about this on the Xerius business portal website.

If you want to start a small business and choose a sole proprietorship, you are not required to create a business plan. However, for certain types of corporations, a business plan is necessary. If you need startup capital or want to apply for a loan, the bank will want to review your business plan.

Financial plan to get the numbers right

A business plan—also known as a company plan or entrepreneurial plan—serves to track the progress of your business. It helps you understand the direction your business is heading. In this plan, you introduce your company, state your goals, and outline how and within what timeframe you intend to achieve them.

Your business plan should also include a financial plan. This part details the financial status of your business, essentially the numbers. You need to demonstrate whether your business has a chance of success.

A business plan is a guide for you as an entrepreneur. So, even if you are not required to create one, it’s still beneficial to do so.

A VAT identification number is legally required when you start a business.
A VAT identification number is legally required when you start a business.

Administration to get in order

Starting a business involves a lot of regulations. Without taking care of this administrative work, you cannot start your own company. Here's what you need to do:

  • Request a business number from the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). To do this, you must register at a recognized business counter.
  • Activate this business number as a VAT number.
  • Apply for the necessary permits depending on your business.
  • Take out mandatory and supplementary insurance (such as liability and disability insurance).
  • Hire a good accountant.
  • Open a (business) bank account.

Essential extras you need to arrange

Above, we've listed what you must do by law to start a business. If you don't, you can't start your business. Besides these obligations, there are other essential extras you need to handle.

What do you need to sell your products or services? Do you need suppliers, and if so, which ones? To keep your accounting and administration in order, you'll need specific software. This will help you pay taxes correctly and file your VAT returns on time. Learn more about paying taxes and VAT.

Daily operations are crucial to consider. Will you start your business from home, or do you need a premises? How will you balance your business with your personal life, and what service will you offer your customers?

Make all these aspects concrete and put them into a clear plan. Otherwise, things might go awry.

Scoring with your own business name

Since your business feels like your baby, you need to think carefully about the perfect name for it. Your company's name should perfectly fit your project!

Start strong by choosing an excellent name for your business.
Start strong by choosing an excellent name for your business.

Tips for a great business name:

  • Come up with a business name that is unique and distinctive.
  • Ensure it is easy to remember.
  • It should have a positive sound.
  • Play with language and vocabulary.
  • Avoid using numbers or hyphens (although it sometimes works).

Use our business name generator

The chances are high that you’ll spend days pondering over a good business name—everyone knows that feeling. Fortunately, you can avoid gray hairs with our free business name generator.

The purpose of our generator is to help you come up with a name for your business, domain, or product. Describe what your business does, choose the language for your business name, and experiment with style and type.

Then, AI generates business names that align with your preferences. This way, you start your business with the right, memorable name. You get 10 unique suggestions. If you like one, immediately check if the corresponding domain name is still available.

Starting your own business: go online!

If you want to start a business in Belgium, launchingyour own website is essential. We're not even talking about an online store. Today, no entrepreneur can do without a website. We constantly search for information on the internet and always have our smartphones in hand.

"Your own website is a marketing tool that never sleeps."

You need to stand out on the same internet. Instead of distributing flyers or handing out business cards, your website serves as an online address where potential customers can find and visit you 24/7.

Don't underestimate the importance of having your own website, as emphasized by the economic news site Business AM:

"A good website can be seen as a marketing tool that never sleeps. While you and your team are offline, your website remains active and accessible to visitors.

On your website, customers can find information, discover new products, and research your service or product. Your website continuously works to keep your business in the spotlight."

What you need to go online

If you want to create your own website, you need three important things:

  1. Your domain name: this is your online address. Every website has an internet address. Visitors reach you through your domain name (such as Make sure your domain name matches your business name.
  2. Your hosting: this is the foundation for your website. All your texts, photos, and other media are stored with your hosting provider. With online website builders like Combell SiteBuilder, hosting is included.
  3. Your website: this is the business card for your company or hobby. You need a website to make a good impression!

What about privacy legislation?

Earlier, we mentioned that starting your own business is only possible if you follow the right rules and regulations. If you have a website and/or webshop, you need to consider additional rules.

This is primarily because internet visitors enjoy international protection regarding (online) privacy. This is why GDPR rules were established.


Let us explain how to make your website or webshop GDPR-compliant.

To comply with the rules, you need to include a privacy policy on your site. A privacy policy is crucial for safeguarding your users' privacy and protecting your organization's reputation.

Being transparent builds trust with your visitors. Customers want to know with whom you share their data, such as providers, advertisers, or government agencies.

What you must include in your privacy policy:

How you store personal data (e.g., via cookies).
With whom you share the data.
The retention period of the personal data.
The security measures you take to protect collected data against loss, misuse, or disclosure.

If you want to create your own privacy policy and cookie banner, we recommend iubenda. This compliance software, led by a team of international lawyers, is a sister company of Combell. With iubenda, you can generate all the necessary documents and tools, and they automatically stay in line with legal changes.

As a starting entrepreneur, you can rely on the hosting services of Combell.
As a starting entrepreneur, you can rely on the hosting services of Combell.

Combell is your IT-partner

To succeed with your website, you need a reliable hosting provider. Your provider is responsible for your hosting and the underlying infrastructure of your website.

As the Belgian market leader in hosting, we have been working hard every day since 1999 to be and remain the most reliable partner for every business. We do this with experienced experts and top-quality infrastructure (such as data centers).

Combell stands for:

Security: Combell meets many quality standards and continuously invests in the safest systems.
Performance: from data centers to network cables, we use only the best materials.
Support: the main goal of our team is your satisfaction. You will notice this quickly.

Take a look inside our data center:

Starting a business also means: focusing on promo and marketing

In addition to establishing your business online, you need to focus on marketing and promoting your business. Customers need to know you exist as soon as possible! 🙂

Immerse yourself in the world of social media and online marketing. Create business accounts on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. These channels allow you to advertise your business in an accessible and cost-effective way.

In the beginning, you’ll need to find budget-friendly ways to promote your business. Word-of-mouth is important, but you can also distribute flyers, attend networking events, and develop small promotional campaigns.

Thanks to Flexmail by Combell, you can start email marketing right away.
Thanks to Flexmail by Combell, you can start email marketing right away.

Email marketing with your own email address

Did you know that as a Combell customer, you get your own email address for free? This not only makes you look professional to your contacts, but with our email marketing toolFlexmail, you can also easily (and for free) stay in touch with your visitors through newsletters and promotional emails.


If you want to make additional investments now or later, start with lead generation. With tools like Leadinfo, you can discover which companies visit your website. Combell customers can test Leadinfo for 14 days for free and even get a 15% discount on the packages afterward.

Good luck starting your own business!

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and that the information and tips will help you if you ultimately choose to start your own business.

Take everything thoughtfully and carefully, but proceed step by step. This way, you give yourself both the opportunity and the time to start, build, and grow your business. Who knows, you might be able to hire employees or make interesting investments in the future. 🙂

If you need anything related to IT, you can always count on Combell! There's no doubt about that.

Frequently asked questions about starting a business