How do I found a startup company

Founding a start-up: Get started in 8 steps

  1. The 10 stages of your foundation: checklist

    1. Develop business idea
    2. Advice and preparation
    3. Select legal form
    4. Name check by IHK
    5. Notarization at the notary
    6. Opening the business account
    7. Entry in the commercial register
    8. Business registration
    9. Registration at the tax office
    10. First steps as an entrepreneur

The most important steps: This is how you found your start-up

It often takes longer than expected from the idea to the founding. In most cases, however, this may be due to the fact that the founders did not obtain sufficient information in advance. That is why we have put together the eight steps to a successful start for you in a short form.


Step 1: business idea

Maybe you already have a great business idea, but maybe you have to come up with another one. Here, a look abroad can turn out to be definitely worthwhile: What works there, can possibly be easily adapted on the establish the German market. Many business ideas have already made it to Germany from abroad thanks to resourceful start-ups Trend used for itself to have.

However, with such "copy cat" methods, the Trademark protection to pay attention! If there is an international patent or other property right for the exciting business idea, it will be difficult to bring the trend to Germany. Therefore, before you use a trend idea for your start-up, you should always have one conduct extensive researchto prevent you from violating a property right. Better to start with your own idea, but here, too, you should make sure before you start that no one else has already implemented your idea.

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Step 2: founding team

A classic mistake is to set up a completely homogeneous founding team arises. Your team should be made up of people, their Skills vary greatlybut are balanced at the same time. So you and your talents can complement each other. Especially when it comes to tricky decisions, different perspectives offer a lot valuable feedback. Ideally, your team consists of at least one person each for sales, technology and one who has the necessary business administration knowledge. A good team, in which you feel comfortable, is worth its weight in gold when founding a start-up, because you will probably see your co-founders more often as partners, children or friends during the initial phase of your start-up. Your business idea will continue to be adapted or even completely turned upside down in the course of the foundation. This is precisely why it is of immense importance that you as a team are inseparable and that you get through all changes together. Only in this way can you succeed in asserting yourself in the extremely dynamic market in the long run.


Step 3: business plan

Even if it seems old-fashioned and outdated to you: Write a business plan! Not only is the business plan a feasibility study and a financing plan at the same time, it also helps you to create a clear structure to bring into your foundation. A business plan is still essential even today - especially if you want to raise outside capital. In times of Business model canvas (a compressed business plan in A3 format) and various Pitches (e.g. in start-up competitions) in importance, nevertheless it is a great exercise for you - even if you should not need it in the end. He will help you, your To discuss and formulate the future in detail. In any case, this reinforces your common goals and uncovers possible stumbling blocks in your business model.


Step 4: funding

There are a large number of funding initiatives for innovative start-ups. But whether you do classic debt sets or rather on Incubators, Accelerators, Crowdfunding and the like, you should think carefully beforehand. Get an overview of the various funding opportunities and carefully weigh up whether the "rat tail" that many financings entail is okay with you. Depending on the funding option, you have to calculate with the consequences such as surrender of shares, voting rights and profit distributions as well as tax consequences. You should Angel investors or Venture capital (Venture capital), you should keep in mind that potential investors already have a possible exit strategy expect. This means that it must be clear to the investor before the commitment is made to what extent he can benefit from his investment and how he will be Return on investment (ROI) looks like. When it comes to venture capital, keep in mind that while you are growing very quickly, you always need more VC to maintain the growth rate. Here you will find further tips for the search for investors.

If you do not want to make yourself dependent on outside capital, but you cannot bring in large amounts of capital yourself, is Bootstrapping maybe something for you. With this method, you create one for yourself strict financial plann that you have to stick to meticulously. So you learn right from the start to operate economically and to concentrate on the essentials.


Step 5: Appropriate corporate form

Before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you have to go for one legal form decide. For many start-ups, the GmbH or alternatively the Basement in question, legal forms where you are from a Limitation of Liability can benefit. This means that in the event of a liability case, only the assets you have brought in will suffer, but not your private assets. Founding a GmbH with its 25,000 euros of share capital may be intimidating at first, but since you are probably looking for investors or outside capital anyway, this amount may be less of a problem than you first think. If your start-up capital is rather small, you should consider establishing a UG (limited liability). If you decide on a corporation, the next decision will soon be pending: Do you want one individual statutes or one Sample protocol establish? The sample protocol may seem less complicated and cheaper, but you are bound to certain requirements: your start-up may only have one managing director and a maximum of three shareholders, for example.

If you want to start smaller (or larger), there are also other legal forms. The best thing to do is to get a precise overview of what legal forms there are, what you bring with you and what suits you best.

Do you start as freelancer, special rules apply to you when you set up a company. Since you as a freelancer do not generate any income from commercial activity, a GmbH or UG are less of an option for you, since you would give up all the advantages of your freelance work by founding them. For freelancers in a team, partnerships such as the GbR or Partnership companies more suitable.

In addition to the legal form, you also have to consider whether you want to set up with an individual statute or a sample protocol. The sample protocol may seem more straightforward and cheaper, but you are bound to certain requirements: your start-up may, for example, only have one managing director and a maximum of three shareholders.

You do not yet know which legal form might fit? Then test our legal form quiz!

Step 6: company names and trademark rights

Your company name is your figurehead, so it has to be individually and recognizable be. The process of finding the perfect company name can be a tough nut to crack: In any case, you have to make sure that the desired name for your start-up does not collide with an already existing one in the same industry and at the same time legal requirements corresponds to a brand. Even a phonetic similarity to an existing name can lead to warnings.

If your start-up is based on a technical invention, the Patent protection be relevant to you. You protect your innovative products or services by registering a trademark. Both patents and trademarks protect you from imitators. Designs or small inventions can also be protected. You all report trademarks, patents and designs to the German Patent and Trademark Office at. Make sure, however, that you do a thorough similarity research before registering.


Step 7: the incorporation procedure

Many founders fear bureaucracy - and rightly so! If you are not well informed, you can easily lose track of things here. Therefore, you should inform yourself comprehensively about the founding bureaucracy before founding your start-up. The founding procedure differs marginally depending on the type of company. You have to do the following steps if you want to found your start-up as a corporation:

  • Defines who which Tasks in the company take over and who how much capital will bring in.
  • Discuss whether and if so, which ones Special regulations you want to contractually agree.
  • Think about whether you can start your business with a Articles of Association or the standardized sample protocol want to and can found.
  • Let one Draw up a social contract or fill out the sample report.
  • Agreed one Notary appointment to found the start-up.
  • Open a business account and pay yours Share capital there one.
  • Enters the payment to the notary and thus completes the Registration with the commercial register.
  • If your start-up has been entered in the commercial register, this is still missing Business registration.
  • Fill the Questionnaire for tax collection for the tax office.
  • Report your start-up to all necessary Authorities to: IHK or HWK, trade association, employment agency, etc.

These points are only a simplified and abbreviated overview of the founding process. For a detailed explanation of the steps for founders, check out our other articles on the topic.


Step 8: find employees

If you want your start-up to grow quickly, you need employees. You absolutely need one for this Company number from the employment agency. Since it can be difficult to pay employees fairly, especially in the start-up phase, you may be able to offer your employees other advantages, for example with investments: Instead of paying your employees, for example, they receive one percentage participationg on the company. Once your start-up is up and running, you can still decide to pay your employees regularly.


Alternative to founding a start-up: corporate succession

Many companies in Germany are currently looking for a successor. The German Entrepreneur Exchange (DUB), for example, offers a great overview. Those who have not yet found the right business idea, but still want to get started at top speed, may find their calling in company succession. As a successor to an existing company, you also have the advantage that you know the start-up processes and the save time-consuming construction can. With the help of start-up methods, you can generate a breath of fresh air in the acquired company and at the same time existing operational structures use!

Know-how: Are you a start-upper?

With start-ups, the focus is on Innovation and novelty, often in the tech field; the product, service or business model has never existed of this kind. Classic companies, on the other hand, are less innovative and use them known business modelssuch as retail or craft. From a purely legal point of view, there is no difference between a start-up and a “classic” company. Both start-ups and other founding teams set up their company in any legal form. Founders of start-ups have a strong preference for GmbH or UG, as both legal forms offer a limitation of liability.

If you look at the number of start-ups in Germany and break them down into one high degree of innovation down, only 14% of start-ups in Germany were particularly innovative in 2017 and can therefore be classified as start-ups (KfW Gründungsmonitor 2017). According to the Startup Monitor 2017 (DSM), the IT / software development, e-commerce and SAAS (software as a service) sectors are most frequently represented.

Rapid growth and special promotion

Start-ups are not only innovative, they are also growth-oriented; they reach for the stars and only want one thing: to achieve high sales and a large increase in the number of employees. Due to their urge to grow, start-ups create more jobs than regular companies: Due to the statistically high proportion of solo start-ups, the number of jobs created here is only 0.4%, while start-ups employ an average of 10 employees or more - exclusive the jobs of the founders.

While traditional companies are often not in a position to achieve such strong growth, start-ups do all kinds of support and fundingthat make this growth possible. A full 64% of German start-ups rely on external financing, whereas traditional businesses only rely on outside capital to an extent of 24% (DSM 2017). Without accelerators, incubators or crowdfunding, the desired strong growth in start-ups would probably not be possible either. Many investors specifically promote innovative companies with a new one Business idea with a technology focus. Most of the time, these companies fall into the start-up category.

Success and failure are close together

For start-ups, different standards are still set than for traditional companies, failure is assessed less critically here. In fact, 80 to 90% of all start-ups fail. The high level of innovation and the strong pursuit of growth are believed to be the main causes of failure. In contrast to traditional companies, start-ups operate on one thing unsafe field, The business idea has often not yet been tested on the market and start-ups very often have to Decisions in the shortest possible time to meet. In contrast, classic companies seem downright moderate, the idea is already known on the market and decisions relating to the company or the product can be made carefully.

According to studies like this one on the topic, the most common causes of startup failure are:

  • Overestimation ("overconfidence" effect)
    • Inadequate market analysis
    • Lack of demand
  • Lack of leadership skills
  • Capitalization issues
  • Bad composition of the founding team


Conclusion on the successful founding of a start-up

If you want to bring your start-up to market quickly, you should time consuming mistakes Avoid when founding a company and identify possible stumbling blocks at an early stage. Take the chance to share your project Experts | talk through. We are happy to support you with this.


The information published on our site is all written and checked by experts with the greatest care. However, we cannot guarantee the correctness, as laws and regulations are subject to constant change. Therefore, always consult a technical expert in a specific case - we will be happy to put you in touch. assumes no liability for damage caused by errors in the texts.