Start business in Sweden – your first checklist

Are you looking to start a business in Sweden, but don't know where to begin? Here's our checklist of the first things you'll need to know.

  Write a business plan

The document that sums up your new company is the business plan, or affärsplan in Swedish. It should include:

  • What the company’s main source of income is
  • Who the typical clients will be
  • How you are planning to market your service or product
  • An estimate of expected income, called budget of results
  • Expected costs, called liquidity budget (likviditetsbudget in Swedish)

 Get a grasp of upcoming costs

Registering a company in Sweden is quite cheap, especially if you choose the company type “enskild firma” (sole proprietorship). But in order to get most businesses off to a good start, you’ll more often than not need some kind of initial capital.

You’ll have to cover your living costs before the business starts to generate income and profit. If you’ll have to make necessary purchases during the start-up phase, you’ll have to cover that too. Many first-time become business owners finance their start-ups with their own savings, but there are other ways; bank loans and company loans (e.g. Almi), to name a couple.

 Come up with your company name

Your company name is your brand. It’s an important detail in order to make it easy for your customers to find you – and for you to stand out from the competition. So choose your company name wisely; it should say something about what the business does, but at the same time not be too specific, making it harder to expand your proposition further down the road.

Also, make sure that the name hasn’t already been taken. Google it and check it with Bolagsverket, the Swedish Companies Registration Office. Make sure that you're able to get a domain name that suits your company name, preferably with the .se suffix (TLD).

 Choose the right company type

It’s up to you to choose what company type your new business should be. In Sweden, the most common types are:

  • Sole proprietorship, called Enskild firma or Enskild näringsverksamhet in Sweden
  • Partnership/Joint-stock company, called Handelsbolag in Sweden
  • Limited company, or Aktiebolag in Swedish

Some of these factors may influence your decision:

  • Are you planning to run the business on your own or with associates?
  • Are you selling products or services?
  • How capital heavy is the business model, does it for example require large stock and warehouses?
  • Do you have enough share capital available upon start-up?

 Register your business and apply for “F tax”

Now it’s time to get to work and register your company. Sole proprietorships only need to be registered at Skatteverket, the Swedish Tax Authorities, whilst limited companies and partnerships need to be registered at Bolagsverket (the Swedish Companies Registration Office) as well. And don’t forget: Register your domain name before somebody else takes it!

If you start a sole proprietorship, you should also apply for “F-skatt” (F tax – for those whose only source of income is their business) or “FA-skatt” (FA tax – for those who also have employment “on the side”).

F and FA tax “for the self-employed” are forms of Swedish corporate taxation and mean that you are approved to pay your own taxes and social fees anytime a customer hires you to do a job. If you don’t have F tax, the customer must take this into account when paying you. Basically, F tax takes this responsibility off the customer.

Applying for Swedish F and FA tax is free of charge and often the only thing required when starting a sole proprietorship. Besides the registration at Skatteverket of course.

 Invest in an accounting software

In Sweden, every business is obligated to keep accounts (Bokföringsskyldighet) according to the Swedish Book-keeping Act Bokföringslagen. You could manage your own books or hire an accountant, but either way you’ll need some kind of accounting software (ERP) in order to keep track of your numbers.

If you’re new to Swedish, we’ll recommend a software that not only follows Swedish laws, but also supports the English language.

 Decide how to be paid

Ok, so, you’ve got a business idea and you know what your product or service is. But how will you receive payments? The smoother and easier it is to buy from you, the better the customer experience will be as a whole.

Many Swedish businesses offer their customers a variety of payment methods. Also, it’s important to look at the possibilities to connect your incoming payments to your accounts in order to minimise the risk for errors and tedious manual work.

 Check if your start-up needs permits and/or qualifications

Before you begin your new life as self-employed in Sweden, it’s important to make sure you’ve got all the necessary permits. If you for example are planning to open a restaurant or handle animals, you can be certain that you need to apply for one or several permits. Some business areas also require formal qualifications, for example if you’re planning to run your own business as an electrician.

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