Your shopping cart is empty

Becoming self-employed: Step by step to self-employment

Setting up a company and finally being your own boss. Almost every employee has thought about this dream. But being self-employed requires good preparation. Read here which professions are suitable for this and how you can successfully start your own business step by step.

How do I become self-employed?

Starting your own business sounds easy, but it’s not. How and with what do you start your own business, you ask? You start with the idea. However, you should first ask yourself whether you are suitable for self-employment at all.

You should meet the following criteria if you want to start your own business.

Personal responsibility: Do you want to take responsibility for yourself and your future? Instead of relying on bosses to tell you what to do, as a self-employed person you take full responsibility for your business.

Decisiveness: As a self-employed person, you are constantly faced with important decisions. Which legal form is the right one, what investments need to be made and when is the right time to hire employees? If you have any of these questions, you can use our packages to get in touch with our legal, tax and marketing experts, e.g. for expert advice on setting up a start-up.

Organisational talent: A certain talent for structured organisation is important if you want to manage your day-to-day business, keep an eye on the company’s goals and make decisions for the future of your company. To avoid getting bogged down, you can use various tools, such as an online appointment calendar, clever project management software or other organisational aids, such as our “Liquidity planning” package, which allows you to create a tailored liquidity plan with the help of our experts.

Perseverance and courage: Starting a company is not for the insecure and hesitant. It takes a little courage to take the first step into self-employment. Don’t be afraid of setbacks – small failures are part of the process and will give you important experience for your future entrepreneurial activities.

What can you do to become self-employed?

If you are wondering what you can do to become self-employed, there are many options. If possible, it should be something that you are really enthusiastic about. Perhaps you have expertise in a particular field or a special hobby?

If you start your own business with something you have a great personal interest in, this will strengthen your motivation to put it into practice. There are many professions for self-employment, not all of them are suitable for everyone and the requirements that you have to fulfill, both personally and legally, are different.

Starting your own business, but with what? – Examples:

Are you asking yourself: “Start your own business with what?” There are many different professions in which you can become self-employed. In many craft businesses, you can train as a journeyman or master craftsman or study alongside your work in order to further your education and become fit for self-employment. There are numerous professions that you can pursue as your own boss on your own account.

The legal requirements that you must fulfill in order to become self-employed vary from industry to industry and profession to profession. Particularly in the skilled trades sector, the master craftsman’s certificate is usually still compulsory, so that, with a few exceptions, you cannot become self-employed in this sector without a master craftsman’s certificate. However, such an obligation does not exist in all areas, so you can become self-employed in certain sectors even without a master craftsman’s title. You must first clarify the relevant requirements in your case with the responsible authority, e.g. the Chamber of Crafts or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. It may even be possible to become self-employed without training in certain professions and sectors if you have specialist knowledge in a particular field. However, many entrepreneurs often only acquire new customers if they can demonstrate expertise and references in their field. Sound training or proof of existing skills would therefore be useful.

Here are a few examples of self-employed professions:

  • Self-employed craftsman,
  • Real estate agent,
  • Specialty retailer for a specific niche product range (e.g. comics, records, wine),
  • Own catering business,
  • Various services (e.g. personal trainer, coach).

Start-up consultants, coaches, further training and qualification measures from industry associations can help you to become self-employed, especially if you have no training. Start-up seminars run by the IHK or HWK are also generally helpful if you want to set up your own business.

Starting your own business with an online business model

Would you like to start your own business as part of an online business model? There are numerous opportunities to earn money here. For example, as the operator of an online store or as a provider of online services such as consulting. Online work is also possible in the fields of graphic design, IT and copywriting.

If you have gained extensive specialist knowledge due to private interests or have several years of professional experience in this field, it is best to start by creating a concept and implementing your online presence. In addition to setting up a website, store and other tools, online advertising measures are also important. Even at this early stage, you should protect yourself legally in this regard, as there are expensive legal risks lurking in this area in particular, which could result in a warning letter. In this respect, a legal review of your online store, a website check or the creation of a correct legal notice can be helpful and protect you from unpleasant surprises.

The biggest advantage of online self-employment is that you can work from anywhere you have a computer and an internet connection. Many digital nomads are self-employed online and work from locations around the world or from their own home office.

How to become self-employed – step by step

Would you like to start your own business? Depending on the sector, setting up a company is very simple and does not involve high costs.

Create your concept including your company name, your so-called company. As a sole proprietorship, this can also be just your first and last name. Legal pitfalls can also lurk in the area of company naming, especially if the name of your company is already being used by another company and this company is active in the same sector. To prevent an infringement of trademark regulations, you can carry out a trademark search at this stage or have it carried out by our experts.

The legal requirements vary depending on which self-employed profession you wish to pursue, particularly with regard to the question of where you have to register your activity. In principle, a business must be registered with the relevant trade office and the tax office. Depending on the sector, however, there may also be additional registrations or even approval or licensing procedures with other institutions, e.g. Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Chamber of Crafts. You should clarify these requirements at a very early planning stage to avoid any unpleasant surprises. You can find out more in our article series “The checklist for founders”.

If you set up a corporation, e.g. a UG (haftungsbeschränkt) or a GmbH, further steps are necessary (e.g. drawing up the shareholders’ agreement, entry in the commercial register, etc.).

In some circumstances, you may benefit from certain tax relief at the start of your self-employment, e.g. in the form of the small business regulation, and in some cases the step into self-employment is also financially supported by various institutions.

Once you have received your tax number, you can start your business if the other requirements are met. In the case of a corporation, the entry in the commercial register must still be awaited.

Start marketing your business and try to win your first customers.

Self-employment as a secondary occupation

Instead of jumping straight in at the deep end, you can also become self-employed on a part-time basis. Here you start your business alongside your main job and don’t take any major risks at first. If you are successful in becoming self-employed on the side, you may then have the opportunity to quit your main job and make your side business your main job. In any case, you should inform your employer before taking up the secondary employment.

Even if you want to start your own business as a sideline, you can get support and expertise from start-up consultants.

Costs of self-employment

You can start your own business without equity capital, but most founders start with a certain amount of seed capital. Instead of investing private assets, you can also take advantage of a grant as an alternative. There are various start-up support options in Germany that serve to help self-employed people without capital with innovative ideas to set up a business.

If you have the question “How can I start my own business?”, you can get advice from start-up support services. Many local authorities and professional associations as well as chambers of commerce offer corresponding start-up seminars and also help in finding investors.


Mit was selbstständig machen? Berufe für den Einstieg in die Selbstständigkeit gibt es viele. Am besten eignen sich aus wirtschaftlicher Sicht Geschäftsfelder mit wenig Konkurrenz und viel Nachfrage. Ob und in welcher Höhe beim Schritt in die Selbstständigkeit Kosten entstehen, hängt unter anderem von der Art Deiner Geschäftsidee ab. Als Einzelunternehmen kannst Du grundsätzlich auch ohne Startkapital loslegen. Allerdings ist eine Förderung immer hilfreich, wenn Du möglichst schnell Kunden gewinnen willst.

In diesem Artikel