The Checklist for Founders: 15 Steps to Your Own Company, Part I

The Checklist for Founders: 15 Steps to Your Own Company, Part I

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Step by step to your own business: The path to professional self-employment does not always seem easy. Formal, legal and personal questions are often unanswered.

Are you not sure which legal form suits your business? Or which official procedures are necessary?

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

Before Setting Up a Business

Every successful business is based on thorough and detailed planning. For your start-up you have to clarify many open questions, inform yourself, prepare yourself and, if necessary, get professional advice.

Your Business Idea and Planning

Every start-up begins with a concrete business idea. You need to think about which service or product you would like to market. It is important to work out which future customers your company should address. You should think about the needs, inclinations or buying behaviour of the people you are addressing. An overview of the competitive situation helps you to develop a special business idea that makes your company unique.

Do you want to start your own business, but don't have your own business idea yet? Then you could perhaps run a franchise business which you take over as a licensee. You could also take over an existing business as a business successor, which is in demand in every industry.

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

Evaluate Your Start-up Ideas

  • Do your qualifications, needs and wishes match your start-up idea? Are your sector-specific, commercial and entrepreneurial experiences sufficient? Or do you need further know-how in the team? Draw up a strengths and weaknesses profile
  • Analyse your life situation: How does the start-up idea fit in with your family situation? What are your ideas about income or distribution of tasks?
  • Consider the liability risk.

Obtain Founding Knowledge

  • Find out about your sector

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

  • Make use of advisory services

You can consult chambers and associations or the business development agency of your city or district. It is always a good idea to consider specialist advice from a lawyer, notary, tax advisor or management consultant.

  • Take advantage of educational offers

Many chambers and associations offer start-up days. There is also a wide range of offers for business founders as well as specialised seminars at the chambers of industry and commerce. Start-up and trade fairs can also be a contact point for educational offers.

Your Financing and Your Business Plan

The basis for your business start-up is the business plan. You should formulate your business idea as precisely as possible. All actors 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 in the preparation of your business plan. On the one hand, the business plan serves as your own orientation, but also as a decision-making aid for investors and banks. It explains how your future business model will work and who your target groups are.

Which financing strategy is best for your business? There are many ways to finance your start-up. You can use investors, the bank you trust or even crowdfunding.

However, it is important that you think about solid financing early on. This is the basis for a successful business in the long term.

Here is a list of steps you should take to create a good business plan and ensure secure funding:

Your Business Plan

  • Explain your business idea or plan.
  • 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 staff planning.
  • At what price do you want to sell your product or service?
  • Which sales partners will you have?
  • What communication and advertising measures will you take?
  • What legal form do you want to choose?
  • What are the opportunities and risks of your project?
  • What is your financial planning like? In particular, what are your capital requirements, your 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 goal is to generate a livelihood and profitable income with your business. Compare your invested work and your income as accurately as possible and evaluate whether these factors are in a reasonable relationship to each other.

  • Research all potential sources of finance

There are many public offers 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 that a company will participate in your start-up, that someone will lend you money privately or that you will have your own assets at your disposal.

Full-time or Part-time Start-up

In the start-up phase, the financial risk is particularly high. Various expenses accumulate and relatively little income is generated. For this reason, many entrepreneurs decide to start up as a part-time business. Part-time self-employment requires the same conditions for registration as founding a business as a main occupation.

Here you will find a list of the advantages and disadvantages of starting a business as a sideline:

Advantages of a Part-time Start-up

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

Disadvantages of the Sideline Start-up

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

Enquiry at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK)

Before you start setting up your company, it is advisable to make an informal enquiry with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) regarding your desired company name and the object of your company. The IHK can give you non-binding information on whether the company name and business 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 should submit your request.

If you are too uncertain to obtain non-binding information from the regional IHK, you can also book one of our start-up packages. This will even give you a comprehensive identity and similarity research.

Read on in Part II!


No matter whether you plan to start your business full-time or part-time: You need to be clear about the steps you need to take before you actually start your business. This includes formulating a financial and business plan, balancing your private interests and meeting formal requirements. The most important thing is that you are thoughtful and informed on your way to self-employment. Digitale Gründung supports you in these forward-looking steps in a targeted and uncomplicated way.

Michelle Noss

Michelle Noss

Student of Law

Michelle Noss is a law student at the University of Cologne. She is part of the German-French double degree programme and completed a Bachelor of Law in Cologne and a Master in Paris at the Sorbonne. She is particularly interested in international issues and commercial law. Since last October, Michelle Noss has been working as a writer at MAP Rechtsanwälte and supports the firm in writing legal blog articles and topics related to digital foundation.