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[hemmerling] Steps for Startup of a Business in Germany, A Roadmap

1 Can I open a business in my private flat ?

2 Pre-Foundation Stage

  1. Negociation with the placement officer of the job placement company.
    • Do I need a professional indemnity insurance ( Berufshaftpflicht ), a comprehensive general liability ( Betriebshaftpflicht ) or even a special “IT police” ?
    • When can I write my first invoice, and when will it be payed, with which delay ?
    • Negociation about a “faster payment” of my invoices for the first 2 or 3 months, to help me to compensate my startup costs soon.
  2. Quick update of my business plan as self-employed IT specialist and engneer, with job details ( salary e.g. 50 EUR/h or 60 EUR/h, estimated project duration,... ).
  3. Communication with the german labour office, if there is any “quick & immediate” financial support or service support for me as founder of an enterprise.
    • Does a formal business plan help to get support ?
    • Probably it's all too late, to get support, after I signed a first contract. Or not ?
  4. Talk with your health insurance agent how to apply for reduced fees, by making the application “Antrag auf Beitragsentlastung”.
  5. Taking a consultation by a startup consultant.
    • Presentation of this roadmap. It is the task of the consultant to check, that all the steps are in right order.
    • Question: is there any kind of “quick” support by the state, which just can be just taken before the formal foundation of the enterprise ?
    • Check of all filled-in formulars.
  6. Taking a consultation by my financial advisor.
  7. Selection of a tax accountant.
    • Taking an initial consultation.
    • Negociation about the suitable accounting system for me, and the basic condition.
      • Net income method ( Einnahme-Überschuß Rechnung ).
      • Drawing up a balance sheet ( Bilanzierung ).
    • Ask the tax accountant to create an attestation document ”Betriebswirtschaftliche Auswertung” ( BWA ), that the tax accountant expects that you as startup entrepreneur will earn less than 1277.50 EUR/month in the current calendar year ( January - Dezember ). Even if you don´t get a reduced tariff, by this you can be shure to pay the lowest standard tariff :-).
    • Ask if the costs for the extra flat at the plant of the customer is allowed to be counted allowed against tax!
  8. Get a date with your dentist :-), for an early teeth inspection.
  9. Get a date with your chimney sweeper, for an early chimney inspection ( General rule: Dates might be a maximum of 3 months prior to the regular date, in advance ).

3 Getting the Contract, physically

  1. Getting sent the contract from placement company, ready for my signature.
  2. What is the due date for payment ( “Zahlungsziel” ) ? Taking 45 days as example: If the contract starts at 2012-04-01 and I can write a bill at 2012-05-03 ( 3rd day of next months ), I might have money on my bank accout at 2012-06-20.
  3. Do a liquidity planning ( with a spreadsheet calculation ). As result, please deposit enought noney on your bank giro account, to be shure to be able to pay your bills at any time in the starting phase of the job!

4 Immediate Foundation

  1. Deklaration of self-employment, at the local tax office. This is the foundation.
    • Be shure to select the option ”“Ich berechne die Umsatzsteuer nach (x) vereinnahmten Entgelten. Ich beantrage hiermit die Istversteuerung” on the declaration formular.
    • I already have a tax payer's account number as private individual.
    • Do I get another tax payer's account number ( “Steuernummer” ) for my business ?
    • I have to apply for a value added tax ID ( “Umsatzsteuer-ID” ), which is anonymous and can be presented to third parties.
      • St. Bezirk 016-022 → Tel. ( 05 11 ) 4 19 24 55.
  2. Deklaration that I don´t want to pay into the german pension fund Deutsche Rentenversicherung (DRV) for the first 3 years, just because I have just 1 customer, at first.
      • 2.2 “Übersteigt Ihr monatliches Arbeitseinkommen (Gewinn) regelmäßig 400,- EUR? →JA”.
      • 2.4.2 “Sofern Sie für mehrere Auftraggeber tätig sind, die nicht Kooperationspartner, Konzernunternehmen ode verbundene Unternehmen: Beziehen Sie auf Dauer mindetens fünf Sechstel Ihrer gesamten Betriebseinnahmen aus diesen Tätigkeiten von einem dieser Auftraggeber ?”.
      • 3.4 “Arbeiten Sie am Betriebssitz Ihres Arbeitgebers ? →NEIN”.
      • 3.5 “Haben Sie regelmäßige Arbeits- und Anwesenheitszeiten einzuhalten ? →JA, Anzahl der Stunden: →KEINE ANGABE MÖGLICH”.
      • 3.6 “Werden Ihnen Weisungen hinsichtlich der Ausführung ( Art und Weise ) Ihrer Tätigkeit erteilt ? →NEIN”.
      • 3.7 “Kann Ihr Arbeitgeber Ihr Einsatzgebiet auch ohne Ihre Zustimmung verändern ? →NEIN”.
    • Advisory about “Handwerker-Versicherung”, Tel. +49 (0)511-829-3006.
    • New information- and advisory office in “Berliner Allee 13, Hannover”. Telephone number for negociation of a personal advisory meeting - Tel. +49 (0)800-1000-48010.
    • Förderland "Wissen / Personal / Scheinselbstständigkeit / Arbeitnehmerähnliche Selbstständige" - "Befreiung von der Rentenversicherungspflicht" - “Die Befreiung wirkt vom Vorliegen der Befreiungsvoraussetzungen an, wenn sie innerhalb von drei Monaten beantragt wird, sonst vom Eingang des Antrags an”.
  3. Declaration of self-employment and that I would like to stay in the public health care system, at the health insurance.
    • AOK NordWest - Die Gesundheitskasse, formerly: “AOK Westfalen- Lippe” ).
    • The health insurance assumes a minimum salary of 1916,25 EUR/month. Salary means gain ( sales - costs ). This results in a minimum health insurance fee of about 320 EUR/month. There are several tariffs !
    • You might apply the health insurance to grant a reduced tariff ( “mit Beitragsentlastung” ). In this case, the insurance assumes a minimum salary of 1277,50 EUR/month. This results in a minimum health insurance fee of about 220 EUR/month. Regularly, this is granted for self-employed startup business people who were “arbeitslos” before the founding of their enterprise and get an official subvention for founding an enterprise by the labour office ( “Gründungszuschuß” ). But you can apply anyhow, even if your status is just “looking for work” ( “arbeitssuchend” ).
    • Ask your personal representative at your health insurance to send you a paper application form “Antrag auf Beitragsentlastung”.
    • Apply for the reduced tariff by completing the application form “Antrag auf Beitragsentlastung” and add the document ”Betriebswirtschaftliche Auswertung” ( BWA ) as certification.
    • Scenario.
      1. You start your business in 2012-01-01. You apply for reduced tariff.
      2. In 2013, You & your tax accountant do your tax computation ( “Steuererklärung” ) for your business as fast as you can, so that you receive your tax bill for your business ( “Steuerbescheid” ) of your tax authorities in 2013-05, hopefully. In case of freelancers and sole trader, there is just one tax computation both for private life and for business.
      3. Now you have to pass your tax bill ( “Steuerbescheid” ) to your health insurance. The health insurance assesses the health insurance tariff for 2012, finally ( “Beitragsfestlegung” ).
        • If you earned less than 1277,50 EUR/month, nothing changes.
        • If you earned more than 1277,50 EUR/month but less than 1916,25 EUR/month, you have to pay the insurance fee based on the 1916,25 EUR/month tariff from now on.
        • If you earned more than 1916,25 EUR/month, you past and future insurance fee is even much higher.
      4. For now, lets assume that you earned more than 1277,50 EUR/month but less than 1916,25 EUR/month.
        • You have to pay the insurance fee based on the 1916,25 EUR/month tariff for the time of self-employment in 2011, so the health insurance demands a supplementary compensation.
        • You have to pay the insurance fee based on the 1916,25 EUR/month tariff from now on, starting with next day of month.
      5. In 2014, You & your tax accountant do your tax computation ( “Steuererklärung” ) for your business as fast as you can, so that you receive your tax bill for your business ( “Steuerbescheid” ) of your tax authorities in 2014-05, hopefully.
      6. Now you have to pass your tax bill ( “Steuerbescheid” ) to your health insurance. The health insurance assesses the health insurance tariff for 2013, finally ( “Beitragsfestlegung” ).
      7. What needs to happen so that you can apply for a reduced traffic again ? 2 conditions must be both true ( not alternatively )
        • You must earn less than 1277,50 EUR/month, according to your tax bill ( “Steuerbescheid” ).
        • Additionally you must be a hardship case ( “Sozialer Härtefall” ), as the tax authorities may expect that your future income will be 25% lower that your past income according to the text bill ( “Steuerbescheid” ). Your tax authorities have to state this in official letter about the payment in advance ( “Vorauszahlungsbescheid” ).
    • LSV "Beitragsentlastung für freiwillig versicherte Selbständige" - “Eine Beitragsentlastung kommt für die freiwillig Versicherten nicht in Betracht, wenn ...das Mitglied oder der Partner der Bedarfsgemeinschaft über Vermögen verfügen, welches im Jahr 2007 den Betrag von 9800,00 EUR übersteigt” :-( ( 2011: 10220,00 EUR ).
    • Warning #1: So if you earned 1700 EUR/month in 2013, 25% lower income in 2014 is 1275 EUR/month. So if you earn less than 1275 EUR/month, you will get the reduced tariff. But if you just earned less in 2013, e.g. 1500 EUR/month, you are not a hardship case if you earned 1277.50 EUR/month in 2014.... and have to pay the full tariff.
      • Tip: Concerning the definition what's your income in a certain year, you are quiete flexible with balance sheet accounting ( “Bilanzieren” ), but unflexible with cash basis accounting ( “Einnahmen- Überschußrechnung” ).
    • Warning #2: As self-employed ( just as self-employed ?? ), You will never get money back from the health insurance, because of a low income.
  4. Think about leaving your church.
    • The religion is mentioned on the income tax card ( “Lohnsteuerkarte” ) in the church tax section ( “Kirchensteuerabzug” ), e.g. “LT” for Lutheran.
    • Your religion is also registered if you register your place of living at the regulatory authority ( “Ordnungsamt” ).
    • Kredite für Selbständige & Freiberufler, sowie Wissensportal für Selbständige, Existenzgründer, Freiberufler und Co "Selbstständige und die Kirchensteuer" - “Der Austritt aus der Kirche muss persönlich beim zuständigen Standesamt oder Amtsgericht beantragt werden. Dort genügt es, unter Vorlage des gültigen Personalausweis oder Pass, ein Austrittsformular auszufüllen und zu unterschreiben. Eine Begründung muss dabei nicht angegeben werden... Je nach Bundesland fällt dafür eine einmalige Austrittsgebühr von 10 bis 50 Euro an. Wichtig ist, die erhaltene Bescheinigung über den Kirchenaustritt 10 Jahre aufzubewahren, da bei einer Zahlungsaufforderung in diesem Zeitraum der Ausgetretene in der Beweispflicht steht. Und natürlich darf nicht vergessen werden, den Steuerberater über die Änderung zu informieren”.
    • Please send a paper photocopy of the certification about leaving your church ( “Kirchenaustrittsbescheinigung” ) together with the original income tax card ( “Lohnsteuerkarte” ) to your financial office, so that the religion is deleted from the church tax section. The financial office sends a new ( or updated ? ) income tax card ( “Lohnsteuerkarte” ) right back to you, within a few days, by snailmail.
      • Fee: 25 EUR.
      • Hours of opening for declaration of leaving a church:
Day Hours of opening Without date ?
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:30-12:30 yes
Thursday 15:00-17:00 no
Friday 8:30-12:00 yes

5 Preparation for the Job

  1. Sending back the signed work contract as freelancer, to the placement company.
  2. Opening a business account at a bank, in addtion to my private account.
    • Depositing of some money from my private account, to keep financial liquidity.
    • Does the new business account have a DE.Wikipedia "Geldkarte" function ?
    • Strict separation of payment for business and private life.
    • MLP "Geldautomatensuche". Warning, there is no way to transfer cash to this bank account :-(.
    • In a case of a move to a new town, I need another private bank account, for the costs of personal living and the rental fees of the flat. Transfer of the complete money stream to this new account is mandatory.
      • List of services where I have to name a new private bank account and new address.
        1. Internet, domain.
        2. Old Internet service provider (ISP ) → DSL provider.
        3. New or additional Internet service provider (ISP ) → DSL provider, UMTS provider.
        4. Internet services (Paypal, Amazon.DE, Amazon.COM / Amazon Web Services, Ebay.DE,
        5. Internet affiliate systems and contents sales websites, e.g. music sales websites.
        6. Owner of old flat.
        7. Owner of new flat.
        8. Old energy provider for electric power & gas.
        9. New energy provider for electric power & gas.
        10. Associations ( VDI, ... ).
        11. DB Bahn - Bahncard 25 ( bank account and EC card number ).
        12. Casualty insurance.
        13. Health insurance.
        14. Financial services ( Postbank, MLP,.. ).
        15. My tax accountant, tax accountant of my family ( address + bank account ).
        16. Car sharing services ( Quicar ).
      • List of services where I registered my mobile phone number.
  3. Pracical Implementation of an accounting system - strict separation of payment for business and private life.
  4. Looking for a new flat, if necessary.
    • Asking the placement officer and the staff of the client, for tips for finding a rentable flat.
  5. Organization of the move to the new flat.
    • Finding a relocation service ( Umzugsunternehmen ).
  6. Can I travel by public transportation each day to the workplace ?
  7. Internet Access.
    • Do I need mobile UMTS Internet ( for frequent travel times in railways, or for short-time projects even at the new flat ).
    • Or do I need DSL Internet or Cable Internet at my new flat ?
  8. Do I need additional coures before going into the project ?
  9. It is a good practice to note the current values of the electricity power and gas counters of the “homebase” flat, to be able to report it online to the power provider, in time, though absence from the “homebase” flat.
  10. Just for me: Talk with the data acquisition company A.C. Nielsen GmbH, to negociate about / announce a data acquisition pause until I have a new flat, and telephone.

6 Taking additional courses

  • Taking the additional courses for the job, if necessary.

7 Preparing to be ready for the new Workplace

  1. Relocation to the new flat, if necessary.
    • Permanent work:
      • For the first time, it might be good choice not to relocate completely, but to look for a ready-furnished apartment, often advertised in Germany as “Gäste- und Monteurzimmer”, “möblierte Wohnung”, “möbliertes Zimmer” and by terms like “Kurzzeitmiete”.
      • Sometimes the employer is willing to pay a hotel room for the first 1-2 weeks.
    • Freelance Jobs and Temporary Employment / Integration Leasing: You sould always look for ready-furnished flats.
  2. Packing of the furnitures and personal goods.
  3. Doing the move with the help of the relocation service and maybe some friends.
  4. Buying a ticket for the local public transportation services, if necessary.
  5. Checking the route to drive from new flat to the new workplace ( by bicycle, by public transportation ), with maps, timetable ect.

8 Job Operation

  • It is important to be in time at the workplace, especially at the first project day :-).

9 Tax

  • The costs for a secondary residence ( flats: rental fee without extra charges and without utilities ( “Kaltmiete” ), hotel rooms: total costs without breakfast of course ) might be acceepted by the finance office as expenses from tax measures, for some time :-).
  • Traveling costs to the primary residence are never accepted by the finance office :-(

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