If you’ve chosen to go self-employed in Malaga, you’ve picked the most adventurous option! SMES and solo entrepreneurs make up one of the fundamental pillars of the world of business in Spain, but despite their importance the tax set-up and competition make this a challenging sector. But if you’re talented, prepared to give it time and have a niche where you shine, working for yourself in Malaga can be very rewarding. After all, there aren’t too many places in the world where it’s possible to achieve such an amazing life-work balance. I’ve had my own business on the Costa del Sol for 20 years, a long journey that has taught me plenty of valuable lessons. In this article, I’d like to share some of them in the hope that they might be useful to you. Read on then for my top 10 tips for the self-employed in Malaga.
This obviously applies to being self-employed anywhere, not just Malaga. Within your sector, find your zone of genius, that area where you shine the brightest. Don’t just be another marketeer, coach or web designer. Go for a niche in that sector – for example, specialise in UX in marketing, focus on coaching restaurant entrepreneurs or make e-commerce web design your special area. Top tip – if you choose to work at a coworking space, be the only genius in your niche there.
Consider your business model
Decide on the right type of business for self-employed in Malaga.
- Are you going to be 100% self-employed or will you be a dependent self-employed (the majority of your work with one company)?
- Are you working online or offline (or a mixture of both)?
- Where are you tax-based? Don’t forget that if you live in Malaga, you’re automatically tax resident in Spain.
Top tip – do a proper business plan with financials, growth plans and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) test.
Yes, you can get by being self-employed in Malaga and not speak more than a smattering of Spanish. This is particularly true if you work remotely for non-Spanish speaking clients, but if you don’t speak the language you’ll come across all sorts of obstacles along the way. And when it comes to finding business in Malaga, most companies and entrepreneurs will sell in any language but only buy in their own. Top tip – invest in an intensive Spanish course and get to grips with the lingo once and for all!
Tap into the local market
The next in our top tips for the self-employed in Malaga draws on our previous one because if you learn Spanish you can take instant advantage of the local market. As an expat, you can also tap into your fellow foreigners giving you the scope of both worlds. In Malaga, by far your largest market is the local one and almost all sectors can cater for it. You can sell your vegan meal plans to the Spanish; advise a local company on its SEO policy; coach some Malagueño entrepreneurs on business plans. Think outside the box beyond the more obvious translation and language classes. Top tip – research the market and explore the need for your zone of genius in Malaga.
Get yourself out there
Unless you have a steady stream of remote clients that shows no sign of drying up for the next six months or so (lucky you!), you’ll need to drum up some business. Malaga has a long list of networking groups, some selective (e.g. women or tech only), others open to everyone. Some are free while others charge an annual fee or have a pay-as-you-attend policy. Top tip – arm yourself with business cards and perfect your elevator pitch.
Check out sources of funding and help
The next in our tips for the self-employed in Malaga also draws on your Spanish language skills because with them, you can access local resources. Grants and subsidies, free advice and courses, free coworking or office space… all available from local and regional institutions in Malaga. Top tip – make CADE Malaga and IMFE run by Malaga City Hall your first ports of call.
Be prepared for the paperwork
Spain is notorious for red tape and although things have improved massively over the last decade, nothing quite prepares you for the paperwork. Not just the initial setting-up link but also your quarterly and annual tax and IVA returns… Invest in professional advice on this so that
- You do everything correctly and above board.
- You take maximum advantage of the tax breaks and deductions available.
Top tip – open a separate business bank account to use for receiving payment from clients and paying out tax and social security. When you get paid, keep the corresponding amount for tax and social security in this account and transfer the rest to your personal account. That way you’ll always have funds for quarterly tax payments.
Invest in your own space
Working by yourself is already a challenge, but if your ‘office’ is the dining room table or your sofa, it’s even harder. Set up a proper office space or rent one at a coworking in Malaga even if it’s for just a few hours a week. You’ll feel much more professional and be able to close the door on your office at the end of the working day. Top tip – take regular time out from your own business. Take a walk or run on one of the seafront promenades in Malaga.
Give it time
The last in our tips for the self-employed in Malaga requires patience and perseverance. Doing business in Malaga successfully takes time as it does anywhere in Spain. Transactions and connections are fundamentally people-based and business in the city revolves around who you know. Give yourself and your expertise time to make a name for yourselves and build up a reputation for excellence. And if you’re good, your patience will be rewarded! Top tip – Allow at least a year before things start to really move along. Factor this into your budget when you move to Malaga. Keep your finger on the Malaga buzzer – sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter. All you need to know about what’s on and what’s new in the city in your inbox every other Friday.