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The checklist for founders: 15 steps to your own company, Part I

Step by step to your company: The path to self-employment does not always seem easy. Formal, legal and personal issues are often unresolved.

Not sure which legal form suits your company? Or which administrative procedures are necessary?

Here you can find out how to set up your company successfully and legally compliant in just a few steps. Digitale Gründung advises and guides you through the start-up phase.

Before the foundation

Every successful business is based on thorough and detailed planning. To set up your business, you need to clarify many unanswered questions, inform yourself, prepare and, if necessary, seek professional advice.

Your business idea and planning

Every business start-up starts with a concrete business idea. You need to think about which service or product you want to market. It is important to work out which future customers your company should address. You should think about the needs, inclinations or buying behavior of the people you are addressing. An overview of the competitive situation will help you to develop a business idea that is as special as possible and makes your company unique.

Would you like to start your own business, but don’t have your own business idea yet? Then perhaps you could run a franchise business that you take over as a licensee. You could also take over an existing company as a company successor, who are in demand in every sector.

Here you will find a brief roadmap at a glance on how to find a good business idea:

Evaluate your start-up ideas

  • Do your qualifications, needs and wishes match your start-up idea? Is your industry-specific, commercial and entrepreneurial experience sufficient? Or do you need further expertise in the team?
  • Create a profile of strengths and weaknesses
  • Analyse your life situation: How does the start-up idea fit in with your family situation? What are your ideas on income or distribution of tasks?
  • Note the liability risk.

Obtain founding knowledge

  • Find out about your industry

You can also look at industry newsletters, books and trade journals. Chambers and associations can also be informative.

  • Take advantage of advisory services

You can consult chambers and associations or make use of your city or district’s business development organisation. It always makes sense to consider seeking specialist advice from a lawyer, notary, tax consultant or business consultant.

  • Take advantage of educational opportunities

Many chambers and associations organise start-up days. There is also a wide range of programmes for start-ups as well as specialist seminars at the chambers of industry and commerce. Start-up and trade fairs can also be a contact point for educational programmes.

Your financing and your business plan

The business plan forms the basis for setting up your company. You should formulate your business idea as precisely as possible. All stakeholders who will later become relevant for your company, such as investors, the employment office or a conventional bank, have different interests that should be taken into account when drawing up your business plan. The business plan serves as a guide for the company itself, but also as a decision-making aid for investors and banks. It explains how your future business model works and who your target groups are.

Which financing strategy is best for your company? There are many ways to finance your start-up. You can rely on investors, your trusted bank or even crowdfunding.

However, it is important that you think about solid financing at an early stage. It is the basis for a successful company in the long term.

Here you will find a list of steps you should take to create a good business plan and guarantee secure financing:

Your business plan

  • Explain your business idea or project.
  • Introduce the founders.
  • Describe your product or service.
  • Describe your customers.
  • Describe your competitors.
  • Describe your location.
  • Which suppliers do you want to use?
  • Explain your personnel planning.
  • At what price do you want to sell your product or service?
  • Which sales partners will you have?
  • What communication and advertising measures do you want to take?
  • Which legal form would you like to choose?
  • What are the opportunities and risks of your project?
  • How is your financial planning structured? In particular, what are your capital requirements, profitability and liquidity planning ?

Your financial plan

  • Calculate the necessary start-up capital

The start-up capital should include a list of all relevant short and long-term cost items. Think about how comprehensive the capital requirements must be in the start-up phase.

  • Calculate your future earnings

The aim is for you to generate a livelihood and profitable income with your business. Compare your invested labour and your income as accurately as possible and assess whether these factors are in a sensible relationship to each other.

  • Research all potential sources of funding

There are many public programmes available to you to finance your project: The European Union, the federal states and the federal government offer attractive funding programmes. There are also various offers from credit institutions. It is possible for a company to participate in your start-up, for someone to lend you money privately or for you to have your own assets at your disposal.

Full-time or part-time start-up

The financial risk is particularly high in the start-up phase. Various expenses are piling up and relatively little income is being generated. For this reason, many founders decide to start a business as a side job. Self-employment as a secondary occupation requires the same conditions for registration as setting up as a main occupation.

Here you will find a list of the advantages and disadvantages of starting a business part-time:

Advantages of part-time start-ups

  • You can receive a fixed salary from your main job. This reduces the risk in the early phase of your start-up.
  • Setting up a business on a part-time basis gives you the opportunity to get to grips with your business idea first. In this phase, you can become clear about the actual economic potential for full-time self-employment.
  • A part-time start-up is an opportunity to increase your existing income.

Disadvantages of part-time start-ups

  • Your personal workload doubles and you will have less time for your private life.
  • The time you can invest in your new business is limited by your full-time job and could affect the success of your start-up.
  • External parties, such as investors, banks, customers, partners or suppliers, could view the fact that you are only part-time self-employed as negative.

Enquiry at the IHK

Before you start setting up your company, it is advisable to make an informal request to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) regarding your desired company name and purpose. The IHK can provide you with non-binding information on whether the company and its purpose are permissible.

This link will take you to the IHK website. There you can find out which IHK is responsible for you and where you need to submit your request.

If you are not sure whether you can obtain non-binding information from the regional Chamber of Industry and Commerce, you can also book one of our start-up packages . This even gives you a comprehensive identity and similarity search.


Regardless of whether you plan to start your business full-time or part-time: You need to be aware of the steps you need to take before you actually start your business. This includes formulating a financial and business plan, weighing up your private interests and fulfilling formal requirements. The most important thing is that you are well-considered and informed on your path to self-employment. Digitale Gründung provides you with targeted and uncomplicated support for these forward-looking steps.

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