start a business in brussels article

Start a business in Brussels, easier than you think!

You have a project in mind and have always dreamt of bringing it to life? Then we’ve got good news for you: Brussels is the place to start a business!

There are a lot of structures out there that can help you make your project idea come true, and even guide you along the way. So what are you waiting for?

Before you start: join an incubator.

You have an idea but don’t know how to put it into practice? Belgium has what we call incubators (see a non-exhaustive list). Under certain conditions, incubators take you within their start-up program. They each have their specialties or policies, e.g. GreenBizz has developed an expertise on sustainable projects. Molengeek, our neighbors, is also one of them !
You also have local economy offices, which are like smaller incubators helping you to launch your project. Some local economy offices also specialize in a topic or area, e.g. Village Partenaire in Saint Gilles, focuses on circular and sustainable economy startups.
Incubators and local economy offices support the development of your project until it becomes a business: they offer personalized and grouped sessions that cover all the issues you need to be aware of while you launch your own business: building a business plan, prospection training, financing your project…
They also offer you the resources that you typically don’t have at the start: meeting rooms, office furniture, service providers such as lawyer advise, recruiter, salesperson… In other words, incubators recreate a business environment, only in a smaller scale so that you can get used to it.
In some cases, you can be mentored by a well-experienced businessman or -woman all the way through and beyond the support period provided by the incubators. And we haven’t mentioned you the best part yet: incubators and local economy offices are public institutions, so they do not cost much – if not nothing at all!

Test your business

We are not done with incubators. Once you know all there is to know about creating your own business, a lot of incubators will allow you to test your activity for a certain period of time (between 6 months and 2 years!). Again, you have to fulfill certain conditions but if you do, you can try as many things as you want: this is what a test phase is for! And you’re legally protected, so you don’t need to go on looking for another job anymore.
What is the objective of this test phase? To give you time to find you viability threshold. This is based on the lean start-up model: you build your business by experimenting it.

After your business is created

Once you have launched your business, it’s not like you don’t have anything else to learn, and it’s a good thing! Because a lot of other structures exist out there to help your business grow and your project thrive. What do we have here?
  • First, just because you’re out of your incubator doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to do with them anymore. They often keep offering trainings and information sessions for you to strengthen your skills.
  • Entrepreneurs’ unions: once you officially become self-employed, you’ll get a status through a union, which job is also to offer counsel, support and services to their members. For example: UCM, UNIZO, but also SDI.
  • Business clubs and communities, such as BNI, Make Sense, Réseau Entreprendre, Wonderful Women, etc. allow you to network and settle your activity within a business community.
  • Co-working spaces of course! Where else can you find a bunch of creative, innovative and daring people? Here at Le Phare du Kanaal, we have decided to dedicate time to our sailors so that they can often meet, exchange, and form a strong community. Here’s a list.
As you have probably realized by now, being self-employed does not mean that you’re all by yourself out there. Quite the opposite: from the small seed in your brain to the extraordinary tree you’ll plant and make grow, people will be there to surround you and support you. And you’ll surround and support them as well. What are you waiting for? Join the community of Brussels’ game-changers and start a business in Brussels! Have you got any more questions? Through the initiative of (formerly Atrium, Impulse and others), the city has developed a phone number and website especially for entrepreneurs (only those who want to start a business in Brussels) called 1819.
Ready to do the big jump ? 😉


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