Self-employment: prerequisites, steps, self-test

To finally become self-employed , no longer have to deal with the boss, make your own idea a reality, earn good money and make everything exactly as it is your own desires ... In theory, independence is the sky - and the noblest way to professional happiness. If everything goes well, that's true. But woe, if not ... Being independent, turning one's passion into a job - that brings with it enormous freedom, but also a lot of responsibility and a lot more working time. Especially at the beginning. Not by chance it says: "Who is self-employed, works himself and constantly ." And not every person is made for self-employment. What matters,How you can start your own business - and if you have what it takes, shows you the following detailed dossier including self-test ...

Self-employment: prerequisites, steps, self-test

Contents: That's what you'll find in this article

Self-employment Definition: When is one self-employed?
Self-employed: Why do so many dream of it?
Self-test: Is self-employment the right thing for me?
Self-employed: Requirements and means of self-employment
Before self-employment: You can do that now
Self-employed: 4 steps to self-employment
Steps to Independence: Call Perfect Day
Steps to independence: facing alternatives
Steps to independence: Imagine worst-case scenario
Steps to independence: observe timing
Interview: Is it better to start your own business?
9 myths about self-employment
What other readers have read about it

Self-employment Definition: When is one self-employed?
Self-employment definition self-employed unemployed work part-time ideas self-employed activity and employed insuranceFor the concept of independence, there are two definitions :

Generally this means that a person is independent of outside help . Getting dressed, eating, learning, thinking, sleeping - this is the kind of person who can do whatever he or she likes.
In terms of working life , this refers to a form of gainful employment , independent of an employer. This definition of independence goes here.
But what exactly does it mean to be independent?

Self-employed is anyone who can freely dispose of his own workforce and working hours and work for several clients . Because you work independently, these clients are not authorized to give you instructions. You can accept the orders or not. Also how you do this is usually up to you. The result is paid.

Thus, the self-employed person has no obligation at regular intervals to report to a supervisor on a regular basis, to work in a specific place or to be controlled in any way.

Conversely, as a self-employed person you bear your own entrepreneurial risk - according to case law, one of the strongest indications of genuine independence. This also includes own resources such as laptop, paper, business cards, homepage and a private office.

On the other hand, anyone who works within the scope of his employment for only one client (and is therefore dependent on him) or, for example, uses the email address and telephone number of the client as well as agrees on representation arrangements with permanent colleagues, is deemed to be self-employed .

One more thing first: you will read variations in spelling out in various media, both are correct: independently or selb st constantly.

Self-employed: Why do so many dream of it?
In the course of professional life, every employee probably thinks about becoming self-employed. Some people think right at the beginning of their career about whether working independently as a founder and entrepreneur would be the best for him or her. Others come up with the idea later that self-employment would be an alternative to permanent employment with an employer.

But where does this general fascination and enthusiasm for self-employment come from ?

As a rule, the dream of independence regularly inspires three key factors:

Dissatisfaction with one's own situation
Anyone who works for a company thinks first of all of becoming self-employed when he or she becomes dissatisfied with their own career. Either the work is no longer fun, there is trouble with the boss or colleagues, workload and work density are constantly increasing - the salary but not. Accordingly, a search is made for a way out.

Self-employment comes to many concerned as the first alternative in mind when they fear that the hamster wheel at another employer would start all over again.

Focus on the benefits
Those who think about self-employment usually get the typical advantages first: the great freedom, self-determination , the opportunity to build something of their own, the prospect of financial freedom, perhaps even wealth and prosperity.

Everything is not wrong. If you look at the richest Germans or richest people in the world, most of them are entrepreneurs and never employees. However, what is happily ignored is the legion of people who wanted to become self-employed and failed just as grandiosely or even got themselves deeply in debt. Likewise, there are countless risks and hours of hard work associated with starting up, as well as the absence of leisure time, holidays and usually many setbacks.

Self-employed Work Occupation Career Self-Employment Tips Myths Advantages Disadvantages
Low entry barriers
The Internet has made self-employment easier - or as the jargon puts it: lowering market entry barriers . Today, you do not need large factory buildings, expensive machines or a lot of manpower to start your own business. Internet connection and laptop are enough. Sometimes only a smartphone. And because a lot of travel blogger-influencer-youtube-star-Instagram-consultants are constantly fueling the dream of fast money, paid dream trips and free product samples (often to finance one's own money), today it's all too much seductive idea to build your own online business.

No question: You can make your own on the Internet, create jobs and live from it - theCareer Bible and her team are the best example. But the way there is by no means easy or fast - especially if there are so many (with the same idea) try.

Of course, we do not want to stop anyone who wants to become self-employed. But we also advise you not to look at independence through pink glasses . Or to plunge into this venture with the usual naivety, as the TV emigrants or private insolvency applicants in spe live on channels such as VOX or RTL regularly.

It is a big, courageous step - with great opportunities , but also considerable risks , which should be carefully considered and weighed up beforehand. We would like to help you here on this page.

Self-test: Is self-employment the right thing for me?
Self-test: Is self-employment the right thing for me?If you are still unsure whether you really have the makings of self-employment, the following small self-test can help you.

This of course has no scientific claim and also gives you no guarantee for the subsequent success. But it can help you to better evaluate yourself and find out if you should start your own business - or better not.

Please answer each question with either I agree or I disagree . At the end of the test, add up the number of questions you have agreed to and get to the result or the evaluation ...

Support in the private environment
My family is enthusiastic about the idea of ​​self-employment and supports me.
My partner can provide for the common livelihood through his income and is also ready for it.
My partner is ready to support me in the initial phase and to take over tasks in the new company in addition to my own job.
My family is ready to accept cuts in our current standard of living.
My family accepts that in the initial phase I will have less time for family life.
Planning and implementation
I already have a concrete idea.
I have enough liquid funds or collateral that I can contribute to my new company as equity.
I already have a broad professional network and could use these contacts as potential customers or business partners.
I have many years of experience in the market.
I know the industry and know that there is a need for my idea.
I have commercial knowledge or have people in my area who have this knowledge.
I have already gained leadership experience.
I can prepare for entry into self-employment parallel to my current job.
I have already dealt with funding opportunities.
I take the time to prepare well and do not rush.
Motivation and personality
I am convinced of the success of my idea.
I'm not afraid of failure.
Difficulties are there to be overcome.
I am ready to take risks.
I have no problem approaching people and convincing them of my idea.
After setbacks, I rappel again and continue.
If I'm a little bit fussy, I'll go for it.
I believe in my goals, even if my friends think they are crazy.
I can clearly represent my interests and communicate with customers.
I am able to make decisions quickly.

Become self-employed? The evaluation for the self-test
Have you reached between 0 and 17 points ? Then come here for your evaluation.
Have you achieved more than 18 points ? Then come here for your evaluation.
Self-employed: Requirements and means of self-employment
There are different ways to become self-employed in Germany. Basically, this option is open to any German citizen or EU citizen .

The prerequisite for being self-employed (and having a chance of success) is twofold:

personal requirements
Entrepreneurship demands a certain amount of risk from you. Even if your business idea is mature, there are always economic imponderables. Those who are too strongly attached to safety thinking will have difficulties with reasoning. On top of that, you are now responsible for areas that used to be your boss's: you have to pay yourself into social insurance and think about old-age provision . Social skills , the ability to communicate and compromise, and negotiation skills are essential because you will be dealing with customers, business partners and employees. And no one else will take over the unpleasant parts of the job for you.

Professional qualifications
To succeed (!) Independently, you must have expertise in your field. This is especially important if you want to receive financial support, such as the start- up grant. This is paid by the Employment Agency. However, it will only be approved if a viable business concept is presented. These include, for example, registration documents such as a master craftsman certificate or certificates of reliability (for taxi drivers). So you should not only be able to acquire knowledge in business management and commercial matters. You should also be able to answer the question: What can I (personally) offer what customers are looking for and what does not exist or not at my cheaper price?

If these personal and professional requirements are met, there are different ways to become self-employed:

They make themselves independent from unemployment.
Who has been unemployed for some time , for the self-employment can be a delightful alternative to the already absent employment relationship. Here you can even start your own business with state subsidies. However, this is only possible for ALG I recipients. The employment agencies, chambers of industry and trade advise interested parties.

They are self-employed part-time.
Lack of capital and / or lack of knowledge can be one of the reasons to become self-employed on a part-time basis: you can still acquire the lack of specialist knowledge in the area in which you are considering setting up a business. In addition, an existing employment relationship guarantees you financial security, while your own business may be slow to generate income.

You take over an already existing company.
You take a comparatively low risk as the successor of an existing business. For example, if your predecessor retires, you can usually rely on an existing customer base. Of course, it is important to be thoroughly informed about the company, its actual economic situation and the market. And last but not least, you have to understand this market so as not to scare off long-standing customers.

You start your own business with a franchise.
With franchising , you do not need your own idea, just the industry in which you want to work. The big advantage is that you have an existing system that has proven itself. The licensor provides advice to the licensee and you also benefit from the licensor's marketing. Often, you need less starting capital than other forms of self-employment. On the other hand, you also have less design options here. A McDonalds remains a McDonald's and does not become a gourmet restaurant.

Before self-employment: You can do that now
Independence Prerequisites: You can do that nowBefore you start a company , there are a few important intermediate steps or requirements that you should have fulfilled. These homework assignments include:

Write a business plan
Although there is no obligation to write a business plan, in any case it is advisable to make a concrete plan and record it in writing for a successful start in self-employment.

Write down your idea, your planned sales, your goals and strategies to reach them and in which market you are dealing with which competitors. A good and convincing business plan is not only an important document for orientation and control, but is often required by banks or funding agencies if you need a loan or a capital injection to start your own business.

Clarify the financing
If you initially need capital to start your own business, you should think about financing in good time. Maybe equipment has to be bought and paid for, you have to go for purchases in advance or you need the necessary small change for the legal form. Anyone who does not bring enough equity needs help from financial institutions.

Therefore, inform yourself in good time which requirements you must meet and which offers are most attractive for you.

Take care of the registrations
To officially start a business and be self-employed, you usually need to enroll in a business - unless you work in a freelance profession, such as journalists or doctors. To do this, you must contact the relevant trade office of your county or city.

In addition, further entries may be necessary, for example, craftsmen have to register with the competent Chamber of Crafts. If it is a commercial business, you must register yourself in the commercial register.

Choose a legal form
The legal form is an important factor when you are self-employed. It gives rise to rights and obligations, which is why you should know exactly which legal form is suitable for your new company.

Thus, a limited liability company (GmbH) has the advantage that you are liable only up to the amount of your deposits and your private assets are protected. On the other hand, however, you need a starting capital of at least 25,000 euros in order to be able to found a GmbH at all.

The society of civil law is also popular . Start-up capital is not needed here, but you need a business partner and, in the worst case, are fully liable for your private assets.

Complete necessary insurance
Those who are self-employed always carry certain risks. On the way to independence you should therefore necessarily take out the necessary insurance (the dossier can be found HERE ) to be prepared for emergencies. These include, for example, a public liability and legal expenses insurance.

But also privately you should assure yourself if you want to start your own business. A private health, pension and unemployment insurance are very important, just as useful is a disability insurance .

Self-employed: 4 steps to self-employment
The US entrepreneur Katja Andes once developed four steps that can also help you to choose between self-employment on the one hand and employment on the other hand. We found you so original that we also perform here again:

Steps to Independence: Call Perfect Day
Imagine your perfect day and analyze how far you are from today!

The desire for change is almost always based on current dissatisfaction (see above). What is the cause, but you find out only by self-reflection . The key question is: what is the difference between desire and reality?

To find out what is ultimately important to you (professionally), Andes recommends a simple method: Write the perfect day in your mind (or in writing on a notebook) . This perfect day should cover all areas of life that are important to you - apart from your job, your private life, family, hobbies and leisure activities.

To illustrate the perfect day, the entrepreneur has listed a few questions that you can follow:

What are you doing on this day?
What are you learning?
What do you create / create / work?
Which hobbies are you following?
Who do you spend the day with?
Where are they?
How do you live?
How do you feel?
The second step is to compare your ideal ideal and reality. Where are there overlaps? Where are there significant gaps? Where can the two pictures not be combined? The more similar the two sides are in the juxtaposition, the more evidence that you are on the right track.

You will be happy and satisfied especially if your life suits your ideas. If this is not the case yet, it is up to you to make the necessary changes to get closer to the perfect day. This can - but need not - be self-employment.

Steps to independence: facing alternatives
Write down possible alternatives and compare their advantages and disadvantages!

With the goal in mind that you have found through the above list, it is now about finding a way to achieve just this goal. Look for possible options and action alternatives that will get you started and help make the perfect day a reality.

A basic question is: is self-employment really the alternative that leads you to the optimal state - or are there other alternatives? For example, part-time work , a sabbatical , a job change or even a restart in a completely different industry?

In addition, Andes offers the advice: Once you have defined the action alternatives, take some time and write down the pros and cons in detail for each alternative . The comparison helps with the evaluation of options - like a classic pro-contra list .

Steps to independence: Imagine worst-case scenario
Imagine the worst case scenario!

The seemingly best alternative can sometimes be the one with the greatest risks. Step # 3 therefore serves to remove uncertainties and threatening assumptions from the most potential alternative - and not to panic, but to turn it into a more realistic assessment.

Imagine what could happen in the worst case. And please in detail! It's about drawing a deliberately bad scenario in case you fail. What would be the worst thing that could happen? Overwrite here - it may seem quirky and unrealistic.

To imagine the "worst case" sometimes helps to realize that it just can not be that bad. Motto: Even if I fail , this is not the end of the world.

The second part of this step is to also have possible solutions to this worst case: So at the same time, ask yourself how you can manage to get back on your feet. For example, could you return to your current job or find a comparable job?

With the knowledge of a worst-case scenario and the way back, you are ready to face any challenge. You know exactly what you are getting involved with - and you no longer need to fear the risk. In the worst case, you have a solution in the hindquarters now .

Steps to independence: observe timing
Leave your comfort zone!

The preparations are now made, but so far everything was gray theory . Now it is important to find the optimal time to put the chosen path into action.

You will not get around leaving your comfort zone . The two options remain: either piece by piece or jump directly into the cold water.

It is not necessarily the best way to quit your job immediately and start your own business. Nevertheless, you should start implementing your plans - preferably every day. Even small steps eventually lead to the goal.

For example, start by building something along the way. This also has the advantage of gaining valuable experience early on and gaining confidence. Many people believe that it is necessary to build up a huge financial buffer before you run the risk of self-employment. But he does not have to be that tall.

For example, check how long you have estimated the period to find out from the worst-case scenario. In a realistic scenario, you will often need less time and less money . This example can help you more realistically estimate your required financial buffer.

Interview: Is it better to start your own business?
Is it better to start your own business?Anyone who looks at the founders' scene like this soon realizes that many entrepreneurs start their business shortly after their studies or after their apprenticeship - thus at a young age. Even Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg were not even 30 when you launched your billion-dollar companies. So maybe it's better to start your own business at a young age? So in the early 20 or mid 30?

The communications scientist and founding consultant, Alexander Plitsch , also dealt intensively with the question. We have therefore conducted a short interview with him :

Mr Plitsch, many think that you should first gain some years of professional experience before starting your own business. Is that correct?

No, not so absolutely. While it is true that deeper insights into industries or markets are helpful. You can also look up a lot from bosses and colleagues. However, there is no steeper learning curve for young people than self-employment: If you are responsible for everything - and always - you learn at an extremely fast pace. They make a lot of experiences, which are withheld from you in the job because they are top priority.

But is the risk of failure not greater?

The possibility of failure exists in self-employment as well as in the job too. But both are usually not a broken leg. Especially to the entrepreneur's existence are setbacks. After all, you learn the most from mistakes. In addition, nothing changes at an older age. Especially with young people it is like this: If you fail with your idea, you can still get hired. What have you got to lose?

So do you think that reasons are better at a young age?

That too is not automatic. As a greenhorn you are not taken seriously by some customers and business partners. Many still place age and competence in close connection. Young self-employed is then - often wrongly - less credited or denied the qualifications due to the lesser experience.

So what to do?

Changing this setting is difficult. But you can learn to deal with such - often unspoken - objections better. At the beginning of my self-employment, I personally deliberately addressed customers who wanted to address young target groups. And there is also the other side of the coin: quite a few respect a young entrepreneur for the courage and the ability to start their own business so early. It also gives you a lot of energy and motivation.

Mr Plitsch, thank you for the interview.

9 myths about self-employment
Self-employment undoubtedly brings some advantages over the classic employee relationship. In the past, however, countless myths and legends have been established around the topic of "becoming independent" , with which we want to clear up at this point (and from our own experience).

Therefore, and therefore, we have listed and disenchanted nine of the most common myths about working as a self-employed entrepreneur below ...

You can work when you want.
Self-employed people certainly have more freedom in working hours than employees with a regular employment contract . But as the saying goes, the self-employed work above all else all the time ... And it's also true: It can easily take three years for a company to become established, establish a solid customer base and run smoothly. During this time, many founders work more than 60 hours a week - usually over the weekend, too. And depending on the industry - for example in consulting, as an agency or as a freelancer - many have to comply with the wishes of the customers - and be available. Above all, then you work more - and then, when your customers want it.

You can work wherever you want.
On the way, on the train or on the beach, unfold the laptop and work - that is the dream of many workers. This actually works in some (internet-heavy) industries and jobs. But as soon as a project has to take place at the customer, you need a shop or an office for your employees, but the freedom is usually over - and the days counted on the beach.

They only work according to their own rules.
Being your own boss, just play by your own rules - nice idea. But gray theory. Although you can define such rules of the game - stupid only if no customer then plays along, but you need the sales. Rather, and especially at the beginning, it's the other way round: For projects with or for other companies, you play according to their rules (as far as billing and payment terms are concerned). Divergence is not a good idea in such cases.

You can choose your own customers.
Nice, once you are ready. This is certainly a goal worth working towards. But what is true is that very few self-employed and freelancers can afford to be choosy about their customers - especially at the beginning of their self-employment. This changes over time and with growing success, but even then full freedom of choice is an illusion - especially when it comes to an important major customer.

You choose your projects freely.
In the selection of projects, it is like choosing a customer: With growing success, the options are broadened, but before that, the majority lives on what comes from hand to mouth. Above all, you write many offers, of which only a few really do the job.

Self-employed people earn a lot of money.
True, as a businessman, the prospects of bringing it to great prosperity are greater than in a career as an employee. However, gross here is not the same net: self-employed also need health insurance and also have to consider how to provide privately for old age. In addition, there are a variety of taxes and duties: trade tax, IHK contributions, sales tax, possibly corporate tax, various insurance and and and. So at the end of every euro earned less than 50 cents left. In order to be able to live from it, one must first of all earn a lot - and that also regularly every month.

You do not have annoying colleagues anymore.
Self-employed who work alone, spared by such horror colleagues , that's right. But that does not mean that business partners and customers could not play on the nerves of La Paloma ... Many a customer thinks he can always ask for more, calls in the middle of the night or simply does not pay the bill. Relaxation is definitely different. In addition, working as a one-man or one-woman business is not optimal for everyone. Some just need a team around them to stay productive and motivated - even if that can temporarily be annoying.

You can go on holiday whenever you want.
And as long as they want. Theoretically yes. Practical: Only if you can afford it. For on vacation you may not only earn nothing - it also costs money. Moreover, it is just such a myth, entrepreneurs could go to their heart's content on vacation. You also have to align this with the needs and deadlines of the customers. And sometimes there is also something like forced leave - then when there are no jobs. Relaxed are such company holidays only if there are follow-up orders. Otherwise, the idle is more likely to cause panic attacks.

Self-employed people work in their dream job.
Many entrepreneurs are self-employed to realize their dream or vision. That's right. But whether the practice later agrees with their own wishes and ideas, is on a completely different page. Self-employment can, but does not have to lead to a dream job . Sometimes it's just another form of earning a living. Often the wisdom also applies: The business model you start with is never the company you succeed with.

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