Becoming a software freelancer in Finland
Here you can find the FAQs about becoming a software freelancer in Finland, running a company, customer acquisition and more. Please note that the answers are Finland specific.
When has the company be set up the latest?
You can start looking for projects even if you haven’t established a company yet or are still employed. Setting up a company (LLC) is fast and easy these days, so you can do it once you’ve found your first project.
Sole trader or limited liability company?
Our advice is to establish a limited liability company (Oy) to be able to offer your freelance services and protect your personal assets from a legal perspective.
Working as a sole trader (toiminimi) gives you unlimited liability and all your personal assets (e.g. home, car and personal savings) are up for grabs if the worst happens. In case of a limited liability company, the liability is limited and the company can declare bankruptcy if worst happens, and your personal assets are immune from the liability of the company.
It is also a taxation question. Sole trader is a good option when the business is small (<30 000 €). When the company's income grows, limited liability company is the most flexible choice from taxation and profit distribution's perspective.
How much does it cost to establish a company?
The online registration for limited liability company is ~275€ . This is a business cost, so later when your company is registered and accounting and bank account are setup, you can claim this ~275€ back from your company. Why? Because you paid it from your personal bank account even though it was a business cost.
How difficult is it to find projects?
In general, developers who have 5+ years of work experience and a proven track record find projects quite easily. Of course, one's personal criteria for the projects vary and can make the search more difficult.
There are several freelance brokers that are happy to network with you and offer you projects. Witted Partners is one of them. With us, you can either tell our agents what kind of projects you’d prefer (ideal industry, technologies, project length and location) and just relax while they will search and present you the projects that suit you the best. If you want to take a more active approach, you can take a look at our available projects and let us know if some of them spark your interest – our agents will then tell you more about the gigs and if you wish, connect you with the end client.
Witted Partners has millions euros worth of onsite and remote projects up for grabs for freelance software professionals and designers on weekly basis. The projects are typically 6+ month-long on-site projects with 100% allocation, but as always, there are exceptions.
How do I promote myself?
Selling your expertise is a great skill to learn. That way you can gain extensions to your projects or get new ones from the same client. The skill also helps you with customer acquisition in general. If you decide to cooperate with freelance brokers, they will sell your expertise on your behalf.
How about the hourly rate?
In Helsinki, an average hourly rate for a senior developer is 80-100€.
With Witted Partners, each consultant is responsible for determining their hourly rate themselves. However, the reality is that at the end of the day the client will decide whether to pay the price or not so the price should be somewhat in line with the market prices. If you're unsure of how much you could charge, Witted Partners talent agents will gladly share their insight on the market prices and how much other developers with similar skills and experience have been charging.
How long gaps should I expect in between projects?
This can vary a lot but the ideal situation is none, meaning that the next project would start immediately after the previous one ends. As an entrepreneur you also have the freedom to have some time off in between projects if you wish.
We at Witted Partners have a great rotation mechanism. When your current project is about to end or you want to, for one reason or another, move to the next project, our agents will start looking for a new project for you. You can see all our available projects through the tool we have built for independent contractors and notify us that you’re open for new adventures. It’s easier to plan the future when you have a window to the market.
What if I start in a project and I end up hating it, could I just end the contract?
You raise your hand, express how you feel and prepare to rotate. To avoid any weird situations, the best way is to contact your Witted Partners agent/person responsible of the project and talk it through and decide together on the best actions.
Would it be easy to go back to full-time employment after freelancing?
If you are a senior developer with 5+ years of work experience and a proven track record, YES. There's a shortage of developers in Finland so good developers find work easily. The hardest part in going back to full-time salaried work is giving up the things you get used to: the freedom and the bigger income that come with entrepreneurship.
Would I be able to learn new skills/tools on the job?
Maybe. As an entrepreneur you are responsible for keeping your skills up-to-date, the client is not obliged to support your learning as they have hired you to do one thing: to deliver a lot of things in a short period of time with high quality. Of course the client might use tools that you're not familiar with, and those you might have to learn on the job or in your free time.
What are the most common ways of taking money out of the company besides wage?
- Fringe benefits, that are not strictly speaking wage
- Shareholder loan, (although, payback to the company is required)
- Renting your own space for the company
How to take money out from the company in the most tax optimal way?
The circumstances for every company are different but generally speaking, in short term one should pay oneself salary up to 26% and take the rest as dividends. Any extra money taken as salary will move you higher up on the progressive income tax scale. In long term, it is more optimal to leave the capital in the company and raise the mathematical value of the stock. This way one can later raise more dividends (the absolute sum/limit is 8% of the stock value or up to 150 000 €). Moreover, one should use all of the fringe benefits.
What and how much taxes would I pay?
As an entrepreneur, you only pay 20% of corporate tax. In addition there are payments like Self-Employed Persons’ Pensions Act (YEL), some employment expenses and perhaps employers’ health insurance and corporate liability insurance.
To calculate how much you could make as an independent contractor, visit here.
Could I sell my work-related tools to my company?
Yes! You can sell tools such as laptop, phone, desk, chair, printer and offline storage devices to your company. By selling what you already have to the company, it's as if you're retroactively turning what used to be a personal cost into a business cost. You must sell them with their current fair market value, and it is up to tax administration to determine if the price was fair.
Your company won't get any VAT refunds from the items it buys from you. This is because you, as the natural person, are not registered in VAT-register.
How do fringe benefits work?
You can offer yourself all the same benefits that employees have access to. Up to the tax-free limits (marked inside parenthesis), it'll be only a business cost.
- Lunch benefit (~50€/month)
- Sport and cultural benefit (400€/year)
- Commuting benefit (3400€/year)
- Phone benefit (20€/month)
- Internet subscription
- Vehicles such as bike or car
- Massage benefit
How about bookkeeping?
Bookkeeping isn’t rocket science (the learning curve is not nearly as steep as coding). Especially the technical aspect of doing the books is pretty much learning basic accounting principles and putting the right account number in one of the two columns. These can be learned in a matter of days or weeks. However, the laws covering accounting are numerous. For an entrepreneur, it’s always beneficial to learn about these laws as your business skills also increase but for anyone who does not have a deep understanding of bookkeeping, it might be smart to outsource and avoid often obvious mistakes that will cost money in taxation.
By outsourcing you'll save time and money. In addition, you'll get support. Usually solo-entrepreneurs spend enough time by themselves. A good accountant is someone you can lean on and ask questions that are also related to your business’ finances in general.
Who'd pay for my trips to the customer office in another city?
As you are self-employed, you will get expense compensation through your company.
How about holidays and days off?
As an entrepreneur you have the freedom to choose to take as much time off in between projects as you wish. If you're in project, the holidays and days off are negotiable with your client. The holidays will be unpaid by the client but will be paid through the employer, which in this case is your own company. So yeah, you’re getting a paid vacation in the sense that you’re paying it yourself through your company.
A good rule of thumb is that as an entrepreneur you’re working on total compensation which includes everything – and you’re free to spend as much or as little vacation as you will, as long as your customers permit.
Would I get parental leave? How does it work?
Also entrepreneurs get support during parental leave and can take maternity or paternity leave just like everybody else. Kela provides the same parental allowances for entrepreneurs as for employees.
The allowance for parents is determined on the basis of annual income. The annual income is calculated for a reference period of 12 calendar months prior to the calendar month that precedes the start of the entitlement to allowance for parents.
The annual income for self-employed persons includes the confirmed income under the Self-Employed Persons’ Pensions Act (YEL) for the 12-month reference period. The annual income does not include wage income from one’s own company or income from self-employment. If the confirmed income under the Self-Employed Persons’ Pensions Act (YEL) has changed during the reference period, the average confirmed income is used. You can read more here.
As an entrepreneur, you work for yourself so legally you agree on the parental leave with yourself. In practice, however, you must also agree with your client if you are in project when the leave would take place.
OK, I’m sold on the idea of software freelancing – what should I do first?
Get in touch with us - we’ll help you to get started and find you your first project!
Witted Partners makes becoming a software freelancer easy
Setting up a company – We’ll plan the start together with you so that there is no break in the billed work. We can start looking for projects for you even if you haven’t established a company yet or are still employed. Setting up a company is fast and easy nowadays, and there’s no rush with it; we can do it together when you’ve found your first project.
Customer acquisition – Don’t waste billable hours on the lookout for projects, our agents will handle customer acquisition for you! You set your own terms, such as hourly rate and the specs of your ideal project (industry, technologies, duration). Our agents will search for suitable projects for you accordingly.
Running the company – There are over 2500 Nordic software freelancers in our community, and they have recommended several accountants, insurances and tools for fellow independent contractors. We will gladly pass on the tips so that your journey as an entrepreneur would start smoothly.
Becoming an entrepreneur
- How much could you make as a software freelancer?
- Why become a software freelancer?
- Five steps to becoming a software freelancer
- FAQ: Becoming a software freelancer in Finland
After starting a business
Running a business