Review your business idea
Prepare a business plan
Financing & public support
Business or liberal profession
Taxes & Accounting
Networks & contacts
When you have thoroughly reviewed your business idea, the next step is to prepare a solid business plan. Just like building a house, a new company must be set up on the foundation of a precise plan with plausible calculations. In many cases, fine details, problems and cause-and-effect relationships only come to light when you see them in writing.
These issues are important …
Who are you writing the business plan for?
- For yourself?
- For potential business partners?
- For bankers and investors?
- For the Federal Employment Agency to apply for the start-up grant [Gründungszuschuss]?
What is the purpose of your business plan?
- To plan and structure your activities?
- To apply for a loan or an investment?
- To support your decision-making?
- To control and manage your ongoing business?
A business plan gives an overview of your business idea, outlines the experience you bring in and explains how your company is financed and run day-to-day. We recommend using a business plan template to create the plan. Our step-by-step template will help you cover all major elements bankers and others expect to see in a business plan.
Write your business plan yourself and get feedback from the relevant industry experts or start-up initiatives. As a self-employed person you have full entrepreneurial responsibility for your business plan and the estimates, plans and decisions described there. Industry associations can be a valuable contact for entrepreneurs in terms of feedback.
Counseling, coaching and support (selection)
- Future startup entrepreneurs can apply for pre-start-up coaching support (“Vorgründungs-Coaching”) for the development of business expertise. The coaching support program contributes subsidies of 70 percent for management consulting. Are you planning to set up a commercial business? Then apply for the support program at your Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK). Are you planning to start in a liberal profession? Then turn to the Institute for Liberal Professions (IFB). Are you not sure which category your self-employment falls into? Read our feature “Business or liberal profession“.
- The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) for Munich and Upper Bavaria offers their free online tool Unternehmenswerkstatt to help you write a business plan. This includes complimentary mentoring services by IHK experts.
- Munich School of Management of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) developed the free program “START with Business Modelling“. Your start-up project will be analyzed by student teams of the Faculty of Business Administration for all aspects of the CANVAS business model, such as value proposition, customer segments or revenue streams. The course is taught in English and business models are documented in English.
- BayStartUP, the Bavarian startup network for founders, investors and industrial players, is conducting the free Munich Business Plan Competition. Prospective founders will develop and improve their business plan on a step-by-step basis. This includes external feedback from the jurors in the Munich Business Plan Competition as well as online tutorials. The winners of each phase of the Bavarian Business Plan Competitions are honored at award events. Further benefits are the chance to be included in the free BayStartUP financial coaching, media attention, support from the digital incubators and partners in the network, information and updates from the Bavarian startup scene.
- Social Impact Lab München has designed the free programm “RESTART for newcomers” to help people with refugee and migration experience implement their start-up idea.
- Industry associations offer professional support and advice for writing a business plan including templates and plausibility checks.
- Non-profit organizations can help prospective founders to develop, improve and implement their business idea. One of them is AktivSenioren Bayern e.V. This service corps of retired executives, business owners and freelancers is a nonprofit network of volunteers willing to serve as expert business mentors. Get to know them at one of their monthly, in-person open houses in Munich and other cities.
Courses for writing a business plan (selection)
- Munich based guide offers consultation and support for female founders including workshops on how to prepare a business plan.
- Institute for Liberal Professions (IFB) offers online courses on a regular basis to help those who start in a liberal profession.
- BayStartUP is the Munich based Bavarian startup network and hosts workshops surrounding a variety of topics.
- Münchner Volkshochschule is Germany’s largest city college with a large variety of courses for founders and business owners.
- Gründerplattform offers a series of four online workshops to help you develop your business plan.
Writing a business plan for the Federal Employment Agency
Start-up entrepreneurs who receive unemployment benefits before going self-employed can receive a start-up grant [Gründungszuschuss] from the Federal Employment Agency [Agentur für Arbeit]. The Agency requires a business plan as well as an an opinion from a professional body, the so called “fachkundige Stelle”. Read on who to contact for a written expert statement.
The written section provides a brief but clearly understandable account of all the important aspects of your business concept.
These aspects include:
- A brief summary
- A description of the business idea (product/service)
- A profile of the founder(s)
- An analyses of the market, customers and competition
- An explanation of the marketing and sales strategy
- Information about organizational and personnel planning
- Information about your choice of location
- An assessment of the opportunities and risks
- A summary of the time frame and your goals
- An appendix including preliminary contracts, references, advertising materials etc.
Keep the structure clear and logical, using a language that is objective and easy to understand. You can adjust the structure and the topics covered to suit your needs. The aim is to produce a business plan of 20 to 30 pages at most.
The financial section will help you to assess how much capital you need, whether your business will be profitable and whether you can earn enough money with it.
There are three parts to the financial section:
1. Capital requirements plan
- How much money do you need to launch your company and finance the start-up phase?
- Do you need funding from third parties?
- If so, how much? And how are you going to raise it?
2. Revenue and profitability forecast
- What profits or loss do you expect in the first years?
- What assumptions are you making when estimating investment, running costs, and turnover development?
- How do you calculate your prices and orders?
- When will you break even, i.e. when will your income be equal to or higher than your operating costs?
- In the case of self-employment as main source of income:
How long will it take before your anticipated profit as a self-employed person can cover all your living costs, including health insurance and pension contributions?
3. Liquidity planning
- Do you have enough liquid funds to pay your bills at all times?
- Do you have a seasonal business and are lacking year-round customers e.g. companies that sell products for holidays, summer-time, back-to-school?
Work through various scenarios. Make the most of Excel by copying entire worksheets and playing with the numbers.
- How do the numbers change when you take a more optimistic or cautious approach?
- How do your plans look in the best- and worst-case scenario?
Starting a business as a team can have advantages. If you start a company with one or several people you can:
- divide tasks according to people’s expertise.
- share the workload.
- jointly raise the necessary equity.
On the other hand, coordination and decision-making processes can be more difficult in a team and lead to conflict. The composition of a team is key to determining success, because in addition to complementary skills there also needs to be shared understanding of roles and objectives.
Team Canvas – starting well together
Team Canvas offers a good way to consider how a team will work together in advance. The basic version for starting a team/project (PDF) aims to help users achieve clarity on visions, goals, skills, and strengths, reflect on values and guiding principles, and define decision-making and coordination processes. There is also an expanded Canvas version for management of finer points, coordination, and conflict resolution (PDF). There is a detailed English-language guide to using the Team Canvas (PDF).
The joint business plan – for comprehensive team coordination
Jointly developing a business plan is another good step, so as to compare the team’s long- and short-term goals with respect to self-employment and to agree on how tasks will be shared.
Partnership agreement – to be on the safe side
Furthermore, a partnership agreement is also a good idea, to determine, for example, how somebody can leave the founding team if their circumstances change due to new goals, moving home, starting a family, illness, etc. How can people fairly go their separate ways if a crisis occurs and how will profit or loss be shared in that case? The more clearly this is specified, the less potential there is for conflict if such a scenario occurs. A template for a civil law partnership (GbR-Gesellschaftsvertrag) [in German] is available, for example, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Munich.
Legal forms for business partnerships
Options include partnership forms such as a GbR, OHG or KG or a corporation, such as a UG (haftungsbeschränkt), a GmbH or an Aktiengesellschaft (AG). Gain an overview of the most popular legal forms.
Start thinking about how you will sell your product or service before you start the business. In the marketing concept, pool together your plans and strategies for your product or service range, price structure, sales, and advertising and communication.
The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) has published an online guide to give you an overview of marketing and sales.
The terms “Freiberufler“, “freelancer” and “self-employed” are often confused and used as synonyms.
Please note: Self-employed people in Germany are
- either business people [Gewerbetreibende] with an activity that is classified as a trade or a business [Gewerbe]
- or members of the liberal professions [Freiberufler] with an activity that is classified as a liberal profession [Freier Beruf]
Different rules apply to these two categories.
It is very important that you distinguish between these two types of new businesses and find out which one is right for you. Read on here