Founding a start-up: personal advice on your way there

Free consulting

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  • Get feedback on questions regarding start-ups, business models, finance and funding
  • Hundreds of start-up professionals have partnered up with the start-up platform and are ready to provide free and customised advice.
  • The start-up platform tools form the basis for the various advisory services.

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  • Benefit from a wide selection of start-up professionals and their services across Germany (chambers, banks, universities, start-up centres, …)
  • Find professionals who know your region.
  • Exchange views with serious and qualified contact partners.

A “one stop shop” solution

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  • All your data are protected in your personal account.
  • Share the documents needed by the advisory services with just a few clicks. It saves time and is very easy.

Is my idea as good as I thought it was? What does a financially sound business plan look like? What agencies or authorities do I have to register with? What taxes need to be paid when? These are just some of the many questions that worry start-up founders - and sometimes they make entrepreneurs abandon their plans to start a company: “Too much red tape - too many hurdles.”

However, there is a solution for all these questions and worries: Use the tools of the start-up platform to develop your business idea, your business model and your business plan. If you have questions you are unable to find an answer to yourself, you can contact the platform’s partners directly and receive advice free of charge. Find out here how we can support you with our tools and consultants and how our platform goes hand in hand with professional start-up advisory services.

What do we mean by “advisory services for start-ups”?

“Advisory services for start-ups” means exactly what it says: if you are about to launch a start-up, you can get professional support. It does not matter whether you wish to provide services, open your own shop or sell your own product and whether you would like to start out on your own, team up with other people or immediately hire employees. Some topics apply to all start-up founders, some only apply to specific occupations. You can receive general advice on your start-up or concrete advice for a specific field of business. Our platform offers a range of tools for most areas, so you can work on your own and then discuss your results with a contact person who is specialised in this field, if necessary.

Start-up entrepreneurs seek experts‘ advice and support in the following areas:

  • Developing, reviewing and optimising an idea or concept
  • Creating and optimising a business plan
  • Deciding on a legal structure
  • Planning and finding financing
  • Finding and applying for funding
  • Important things to know about taxes, law and insurance
  • Marketing expertise 
  • Selecting and managing employees 

In general, advice for start-ups does not mean that we show you a concrete path and provide you with a fully developed business plan or a customised marketing plan. It is more about enabling you to make your own, well thought through decisions for your company. It’s about empowering you.

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But it is also true that you don’t have to do everything yourself. If you want to open a car workshop or set up a food stand, you don’t have to be a marketing professional or be responsible for your own accounting. For many of the tasks there are professionals who you can hire on an hourly basis. But it is helpful if you reflect on all these subjects whilst launching your start-up and if you have an idea what they involve in order to ask (critical) questions and find reliable partners.

Find suitable advisory services for your start-up

There are several contact points to help you find suitable advisory services for your start-up: the chambers of industry and commerce, but also the Federal Employment Agency and centres for further training offer a number of programmes for budding entrepreneurs and help them find specialists who can give them advice.

In order to facilitate your search for advisory services, our platform lists services offered by the various chambers, universities and companies. No matter what you are looking for: you will find a solution here.

Free of charge group advisory services

There are group and customised coaching services for all fields of business – one isn’t necessarily worse or better than the other: it rather depends on your questions.

The group workshops and presentations offered by your chamber of industry and commerce and the employment agency usually deal with general questions. They cover for instance different insurance types that would make sense for someone who is self-employed or the different funding options that are available. Sometimes, there are consultation days where you can get advice on topics like franchising, sustainability or on what to do when you have a migrant background and wish to launch a start-up. Seminars and conferences for women entrepreneurs and businesswomen are also growing in popularity. The best thing is to get direct advice from the relevant chamber of industry and commerce or employment agency - you will be surprised how much is covered by start-up consultants in many cities and Länder. What’s even better: many of these services are free of charge.

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Customised start-up coaching

If you need something more specific and individual, you have the option of using the contact points mentioned above or you can use the online search tool to find a professional who will support you face-to-face during your start-up launch. The advantage is that s/he would focus exclusively on your questions, issues and worries. This gives you the opportunity to review your idea and achieve greater planning security regarding your finances. Trust and rapport between you and your consultant are extremely important for a truly successful coaching experience which will deliver long-term benefits. Good quality and serious consultancy offices therefore offer a no-commitment meeting free of charge where you can get to know each other and talk around your general concept before starting to work together on the details.
Naturally, you will have to pay for these customised advisory services, but some funding may be available. Read below how it works.

Online start-up advisory services including tools and consultants

You may wish to start by using our start-up platform to find everything you need. It does not matter whether you are still working on your idea or are already dealing with funding. Our online tools will accompany you through the process step by step: be inspired by videos of other start-up founders, create a business model and a business plan and find the right financial support. You can use them to work through your ideas yourself, or as a way of preparing for and complementing the offline advisory services.

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Costs for start-up advice

As already described above: many of the public workshops and presentations offered by the chamber of industry and commerce and other organisations are free of charge, as are the tools and information you can find here on the start-up platform. You need to pay for individual coaching and some other forms of consultancy services. Professional start-up coaching often costs more than €100 per hour, and if you wish to use advice services throughout - from developing your idea to completing your business plan - and receive customised advice, you should plan for between €2,000 and €3,000. The good news is: your expenses can at least partially be covered by a funding programme.

Some time ago, the most well-known programme was the KfW programme entitled “Gründercoaching Deutschland” (Start-up coaching Germany). It merged with the funding programme for advisory services in 2016 and has since been managed by the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control. This type of funding includes programmes for the different stages of your business - that means it covers the start-up stage and the first years of your business and also later stages when you might need to restructure. What’s interesting for you is the funding for advisory services available for start-ups and funding available during the first two years of your business. Conditions for funding are very similar to the old start-up coaching scheme: up to €3,000 can be funded, and the funding rate is between 50% and 80%, depending on where you live in Germany. If, for instance, you use €2,000 for start-up advisory services in Berlin, you will have €1,000 left that can be covered by this type of funding.

In some cases, for instance if you are unemployed and wish to start your own business, the employment agency can cover your expenses for start-up advisory services. In addition, the Länder have their own funding programmes for entrepreneurs.

In any case, it is important to know that: before signing a contract for a free workshop or any other form of advisory services, you should learn about the various funding options and apply for them in advance. Consultants often know best whether their services are eligible for funding or not. Costs mostly cannot be covered after you have already signed a contract for advisory services.

You can get free feedback and advisory services on your business idea, business model and business plan on our start-up platform - find a partner in your vicinity who will support you in the next steps of your start-up.

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Pros and cons of advisory services

It is actually very simple: there is no reason to launch a start-up without using advisory services. Firstly, you can learn from professionals - and in the worst case scenario, you just forget what they told you. Secondly, you get the opportunity to share your idea with others, get a second or even a third or fourth opinion and find out about potential weaknesses (or strengths) of your idea before you launch the start-up and tackle (or enhance) these points. Exchanging views and dialogue can never do any harm - on the contrary, it might help you learn how to present your business plan in a convincing way and show you how to defend it. This is very useful if you want to apply for funding from banks and other investors. In addition, advisory services are usually well linked to these investors and other partners. When participating in advisory services organised for groups you also get to know other entrepreneurs with whom you can exchange views and develop new ideas.

The only downside (if you want to call it this) is that you will need to pay a fee for the advisory services and that you will have to invest some of your time. Both are things that you should value as a future successful young entrepreneur.

Summary: how to find suitable advisory services

A start-up launch is usually a time of new beginnings, filled with questions and uncertainties. So advisory services are really important: they can help your questions and doubts to become positive factors which will drive your business. If you want the advice to be productive, you should think about the following points.

  1. What questions and issues do I have?
    Do you wish to have your idea reviewed, do you need help when creating your business plan or additional knowledge when it comes to taxes and accounting? Professionals are here to help you with all these questions.
  2. What type of advisory services would you like to use?
    Absorb knowledge from a presentation, work through questions in a one-to-one coaching session, or plan your own start-up online. Everybody has different issues, and everybody learns differently - which is why advisory services work differently in each case. Sometimes a combination of different forms of advisory services is exactly the right solution.
  3. What can you invest and what would you be willing to invest?
    This applies both in terms of time and budget. Plan both points realistically, considering any commitments you have already entered into (for example a shop opening or the date you are going to acquire an existing company). Get information on funding programmes.

The tools and consultants on our platform are an ideal way for you to get acquainted with many of these subjects. After that, you can decide on your own whether you wish to use an additional advisory service (which will be subject to the payment of a fee). Use the ideas or the business plan, created with our tools, to contact consultants. After you have found the right advisory service, all we can wish you is to be brave and to be frank. When launching a start-up, no subject and no worry is too small or too insignificant not to be discussed with a consultant. 

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