Starting up a Registered Business ("Gewerbe")

How can I become an independent businessperson?

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Many people dream of working as self-employed and being their own boss so that they can work independently or realise a business idea. Starting your own business is called "Existenzgründung". As an independent business owner, you are the one who decides which jobs to accept or how and when to work. But working independently also requires a lot of effort: you are personally responsible for everything and have to take care of many issues. Furthermore, there are always financial risks involved in building a business: if you invest significant capital, but your business does not make much profit, you will lose your investment.

As someone who starts up a business or founds a company, you are considered to be a businessperson or "Gewerbetreibender". When you, for instance, open a shop, restaurant, factory or craft business, you need to register your business ("Gewerbe"). If you practice a liberal profession ("Freie Berufe"), e.g. you are a journalist, doctor, etc., you can find all the information you need in our chapter "Starting a business as self-employed ("Freiberufler")".

What do I need to know?

Can I become self-employed?

Where do I have to register?

Which legal form is the right one?

How should I name my business?

What is the Small Business Regulation ("Kleinunternehmerreglung")?

Which taxes do I have to pay as a businessperson?

Where do I have to submit my annual tax return?

What about the bookkeeping?

When and how should I write invoices?

What kinds of insurance do I need?

What should I consider when hiring employees?

What does "Scheinselbständigkeit" mean?

Can I be employed and self-employed at the same time?

Where can I get financial support?

Where can I seek advice and support?

How can I deregister my business?


Make sure you seek advice from the IHK, the HWK, a tax consultant or a start-up adviser before registering your business. The decisions you need to make at the very start (e.g. legal form, etc.) have significant impacts on the future of your business.