Do not miss the signals
It is important to act when you recognise the signs. Take a close look at your business, or let someone do it for you. How viable is your company? Find a solution for the problems you have identified and make a plan to turn the tide. If you act quickly, you stand a better chance of overcoming your financial problems.
Find a solution
When your company hits a (financial) rough patch, finding financing is not always the solution. Ask an external consultant to help you find out what the real problem is. Maybe you will have to market your product or service differently, or to a different target group. Do market research. The market is constantly changing. Is your product or service in tune with those changes? Use focused campaigns to spark interest for what you have to offer.
Using your company assets
You need money to make a new start with your company or to explore new markets. Try to raise this money from your own assets. One way to do this is by cutting costs wherever possible, so-called bootstrapping.
Do you need an external money boost? You may be able to re-finance your existing credit. Talk to your bank, or use (a mix of) alternative funding sources, such as crowdfunding, leasing, credit unions, and others. Perhaps you can ask your family and friends to co-fund you. To build trust, it is important, when you want to ask a bank or other third party to invest in you, to have some money yourself.
Decree on Assistance to the Self-Employed (Bbz)
You can apply to your local council to provide a loan under the Decree on Assistance to the Self-Employed (Besluit bijstandverlening zelfstandigen, Bbz). To apply, you will have to meet some conditions.
If you have too much debt to be able to pay back, even though your company is, in essence, sound, debt restructuring may be the solution for you and your creditors. Especially if your business is not a legal entity, debt restructuring is often a better solution than bankruptcy.
If you and (a significant part of) your creditors can agree on a financial plan, for instance, repaying a significant part of your debts, or distributing equity among your main creditors, you may be able to avoid bankruptcy by using the WHOA. The WHOA allows you to continue your business, on condition that you adhere to the agreements you have drawn up with your creditors and that have been approved by court.
You cannot put your company on hold
It is not possible to put your company on hold. According to KVK and the Tax Administration, having a business means having business activities. If you do not have business activities, deregister your company. If your company is a legal entity, you must dissolve it before you can deregister. So long as your business is registered, your legal obligations continue. Depending on your legal structure, you have to file tax returns, keep business records, and file annual accounts with KVK. You also have to honour any contracts with suppliers and customers you have entered into.
The advisers of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Financing Desk can help you when you find yourself in troubled waters. They can also bring you in contact with other organisations, such as:
- Ondernemersklankbord: a national network of experienced ex-entrepreneurs and experts. They can help you take a good look at your business and its management. The advisors are volunteers, but they will ask you for a donation to the Ondernemersklankbord Foundation.
- MKB Doorgaan: a national organisation that helps SMEs and self-employed professionals keeping their (essentially viable) business up and running. The first meeting is free of charge.
On the website of Bureau WSNP (Bureau Debt restructuring for Natural Persons Act) you can find information (in Dutch) about organisations that specialise in assisting (former) self-employed professionals who have debts.
If it does go wrong
- Stay in charge of your company. Take steps as early as possible, and don’t wait for the bank to revoke its credit or a supplier to impound your assets.
- If you can no longer pay your staff’s wages, you must report insolvency to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV).
- Always file your tax returns on time. If you cannot pay your taxes, report your insolvency for taxes and premiums to the Tax Administration. This way, you can prevent receiving an assessment for the estimated tax plus a fine from the Tax Administration.
Unemployed due to closing of your business
If you are 55 years of age or older, and you have become unemployed because your business has ended, you may be able to apply for a benefit to the local council under the Decree on Assistance for the Self-Employed (Besluit bijstandverlening zelfstandigen, Bbz), or the Older and Partially Disabled (Formerly Self-Employed) Persons Income Support Act (Wet inkomensvoorziening oudere en gedeeltelijk arbeidsongeschikte gewezen zelfstandigen, IOAZ). One of the conditions for applying to the IOAZ is that you are still registered in the Business Register, so you must apply before you end your business.