How do I legally set up a company

Starting your own company in 10 steps

1st step: the planning phase

Before you actually officially set up your company, the planning phase must be completed. According to KfW Gründungsmonitor, the average preparation time is seven months from the idea to the actual start of the company. However, 50% of all founders will be through with it in three months if they want to start their company. Of course, many founders initially play with the idea of ​​founding a company for a long time. This is also shown by a look at the time of intensive preparation for the start-up, which includes the optimization of the idea, the business plan and dealing with the authorities. This takes an average of 2.5 months, with over 50% of the founders taking less than a month.

Our tip: Take your time and pay close attention to a valid business model. This is followed by the detailed elaboration of your business plan, which forms the basis for a successful company formation. In particular, make sure that you have a financial plan that is as realistic as possible. It shows you how much capital is necessary and whether your planned company is worthwhile.

Plan your company with guidelines and checklists

We have already created extensive guidelines and checklists for individual areas to help you plan your own company well.

2nd step: main or sideline?

The step into self-employment is a big risk for many founders. Therefore, numerous start-ups also try out part-time self-employment. However, whether you are setting up a company as a sideline or starting a full-time job does not play a role in the basic requirements of the company formation. However, there are a few things you still need to consider if you are self-employed on a part-time basis.

3rd step: Check trademarks and protect them if necessary

Many founders are breaking new ground when it comes to legal issues when setting up a company. But these are of great importance when setting up a company and should not be neglected. Finally, the company should be able to be found at a suitable Internet address. The company name should be clear and unambiguous. Brand protection for the products and services secures the competitive position. However, it is important to remember that these issues are not a one-way street. When you set up a company, you also have to be careful not to violate any existing property rights. We have put together further details for you in the section on industrial property rights.

Speaking of protection: Have you also thought of protection?

When you start a company, it is also about avoiding risks - private and commercial - for self-employment. For many risks that you cannot control, there is insurance so that the financial consequences do not mean an early end to self-employment.

As far as the personal risks are concerned, you can decide during the first three months after starting up whether you want to take out statutory or private health insurance. As a rule, it makes sense to first compare the costs and benefits of private health insurances in order to then compare the best tariff with statutory health insurances. Let us create a free and non-binding private health insurance comparison.

Operational risks are primarily about determining insurance needs. Because: Depending on the industry, different insurances can make sense - do the free needs analysis.

As a self-employed person, you have the choice between statutory and private health insurance. Make use of the option and compare the costs and benefits of both health insurance systems!

Compare health insurance

4th step: secure corporate financing

First of all, self-employment means investments and costs. And the savings are often not enough. The thought of the bank loan then quickly comes to many founders. But corporate financing can be diverse. The starting point is the financial plan that you created in the business plan. This shows what capital you need to set up your company. Funding, equity, loans or grants can then be used to finance the company: raise sufficient capital when you set up your company.

Think too of financing alternatives. In addition to the house bank and subsidies, there are also:

5th step: which permits are required?

Do you like to cut hair and want to open a hairdressing salon? But it's not that simple. This handicraft occupation falls under the master's obligation. Even opening a restaurant before contacting the building authority is not recommended. Permits, permits, or specific qualifications may be required when starting a business. Find out more in advance before you run into problems when starting your own business: an overview of the necessary permits.

Step 6: Company form, account and contracts

The company or legal form is associated with different requirements if you want to set up the company and can noticeably extend the start-up process. While sole proprietorships or partnerships like the GbR are quick to set up, it takes longer for corporations like the GmbH or UG. The reasons for this are the appointments with the notary and the necessary entry in the commercial register. We have put together important factors for you to compare the different types of company.

The opening of a business account is also associated with the establishment. Corporations are only registered with the commercial register by the notary when the share capital has been paid in (usually on a business account). For freelancers and sole proprietorships, a separate business account is not absolutely necessary, but definitely advisable - this is the only way to separate private and professional finances.

The subject of the necessary contracts is closely linked to the aspect of the legal form. However, you should not only think about the articles of association or the management contracts. Employment contracts for possible employees or general terms and conditions as well as templates for customer contracts should already be available at the start.

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7th step: clarify the location question

If you are not starting your company within your own four walls, but renting an office, a shop, a workshop or a restaurant, then the question of the suitable location is important. There are numerous important factors that you should take into account when determining your location so that customers can find their way to you - to use the phrase: all roads lead to Rome.

8th step: register with which office?

Without offices, nothing works if you want to start a company. Numerous registrations are compulsory and there is a risk of fines if they are missed. And without a tax number from the tax office, you still can't write invoices. But here too, progress is being made step by step. And so you are quickly on the home stretch when you set up your company. We have put together for you which office to contact and when in the section Registering a company. Particularly noteworthy is the business registration and, for corporations, the entry in the commercial register.

Use our online solution Unternehmerheld for your start-up. Our digital helper will put together your individual founding steps and keep all relevant forms and templates ready for you - free of charge!

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9th step: the perfect external appearance

One of the preparations when you start a company is that you design your public image in the best possible way. This includes, for example, the company logo or the website as well as a correctly created invoice or legal aspects such as the imprint and the data protection declaration. The first impression counts - this applies to your company in customer contact as well as in the first meeting. So do your best and convince with a successful public image.

10th step: win customers

After planning and numerous formalities, you have successfully set up your company. But now it's about generating sales and successfully entering the market. Many people might like to buy from you - but very few people know what you have to offer. And even if you are completely convinced of your products or your service - you still have to do a lot of convincing with potential customers. For this purpose, we have compiled the various ways of customer acquisition for you.

There are many ways to advertise your offer. There is no question that you are advertising. However, you should - also for budget reasons - design and implement a coherent marketing concept.

We'll help you set up your company!

There are many construction sites on the way to founding a company. But the right consultants and service providers can help you master all challenges. The start-up coach develops the business plan with you and accompanies the corporate financing.

The lawyer is at your side for all legal issues and a designer takes care of the optical highlights. We will be happy to help you find the right partner for your company - use our free service.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.