Realize your dream of having your own company – it’s really not that complicated to do. What do you need to taken into account when becoming self-employed? We have compiled the most important tasks and helpful tips for starting a company in Switzerland for you here. From the business idea and selecting the right legal form, to insurance and pensions – we go through the most important steps in founding a company together with you. Let’s get started!
Founding a company in Switzerland is comparatively easy. Special permits are only required for industries that are regulated by the federal government (professions in healthcare, education, or the social sector) or the cantons (e.g. professions in architecture, transportation, or the law). This guide will lead you step by step with knowhow and recommendations through the various phases of becoming self-employed.
A good business idea is the basis for founding a successful company. Despite this, you don’t necessarily have to have a new business idea that is uniquely your own to start your own company. The majority of founders start with products and services that are known. The big advantage here is that if you have worked successfully for many years in a certain field, then you know the central needs and problems of the market. Close contact with customers is a revealing source of information when it comes to improvements, product innovations, and gaps in the market. Industry insiders also have the right network and know potential customers and suppliers. Ideally, you also work in an ambitious team which supports you in growing your company.
Do you already have some initial ideas for a company name? Does the company name you have in mind breach any copyrights? You also need to make sure that a corresponding domain (e.g. www.axa.ch) is available. Depending on the marketing concept, you should also check whether you can create social media profiles with the name. Important to know: Depending on the legal form you choose, you may have to include certain elements and observe certain requirements for the company name.
The most important rules for creating a company (name of the owner of the company) can be found in the following provisions:
If your company name violates the rules on company founding, then it cannot be entered in the commercial register. You want to check before you start your company whether your company’s name complies with legal provisions? Submit your proposal to the responsible cantonal commercial registry office for a preliminary review.
How is it going with the financing of your company? Have you considered money from investors or business angels? Would you like to take out a loan from a bank? Are you starting your company with equity, for example through a withdrawal of assets from your pension fund? Start-up founders have many options at their disposal for financing their business model. Determine your need for capital and obtain advice. You can get professional advice from business coaches, start-up platforms like startups.ch , or your preferred bank, for example. The Swiss government does not grant any direct financial support for the founding of new companies. The only exception is unemployment insurance. It provides support measures for unemployed persons who would like to start their own company.
Is your financial cushion sufficient if orders dry up? Since you cannot rely on any unemployment benefits, we recommend you budget a bridging reserve for at least six months. Too scarcely planned finances can be devastating: in the case of bankruptcy, self-employed persons are liable with their total assets.
As the owner of a sole proprietorship or partner of a partnership, you are considered to be self-employed.
Here, there is a range of options to choose from – whether it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. If an individual is managing a business in the commercial sense under his or her own name and on his or her own behalf, this constitutes a sole proprietorship. This legal form is popular in Switzerland and the gateway to self-employment for many start-ups. It can be changed to a corporation at any time.
As the owner of a sole proprietorship or partner of a partnership, you are considered to be self-employed:
The alternative: you found a corporation and are employedby your own company.
The legal form of the company determines your position under social insurance law.
Have you chosen to establish a sole proprietorship or partnership? You have taken the first step! Under social insurance law, you have thus chosen the path of self-employment. This is because in Switzerland you are considered to be self-employed once the compensation fund of your place of work has reviewed your application and approved your self-employment. Various criteria apply depending on the industry. An entry in the commercial register is not enough for approval of self-employment.
To review an application, the compensation fund requires documentation of your self-employment, which is why the application is made retroactively. Include documents with your application that prove you are self-employed. These may comprise, for example, offers and invoices, advertising materials, or a description of your activity.
From the perspective of the compensation fund, self-employment has the following four features:
For the self-employed, the duty to pay contributions starts in the first January following the founder’s 17th birthday. If there is gainful activity, contributions must be paid. If you work beyond retirement age, then you remain subject to contributions.
The next step: social insurance. We recommend calculating the costs as normal expenses in your budget. The self-employed pay contributions for Federal Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV), and Loss of Earnings benefits (EO) entirely themselves. On top of this are a percentage of the family allowance amount and administrative costs.
Once you register with the compensation fund, you have already dealt with another important matter of the founding phase – insurance. In addition to social insurances for entrepreneurs and any employees of the company, there is a second type of insurance: business insurance. Here, there are various offers available for companies.
What we highly recommend is voluntary accident insurance. How great is the risk of an accident during your work? Mandatory health insurance only covers the treatment costs in the event of an accident. As a rule, accident insurance covers medical care, reimbursement of costs, and monetary benefits (daily benefits, disability pension, compensation for bodily injury, helplessness allowance, survivors’ pensions).
An important step for founders is planning occupational benefits (BVG). BVG is voluntary for the self-employed. Thanks to a large number of professional and industry associations, you can insure yourself at an occupational benefits institution that is right for you. As an alternative, you can also join an industry-specific pension fund or the National Substitute Pension Plan BVG.