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Start-up types

There are various ways to establish a self-employed existence. Your personality and way of working will determine what is right for you. Because the framework that you choose for your self-employment will determine your future working life considerably. The key start-up types are listed below.

Sole trader

Sole trader is the form that is frequently chosen for new start-ups. In this scenario, you are the sole boss and have the greatest business freedom in every respect. The business idea, organisation, methods of working and processes, selection of staff, business orientation, are all down to you. If you have always wanted to do your “own thing” this could be the best form of start-up for you. But bear in mind that you really do have to do, and take responsibility for, everything yourself. Even the financial burden sits firmly on your shoulders.

Team start-up

Alternatively, a start-up with business partners can be a good route into self-employment. With a team start-up, several people shoulder the burden. As several partners make their own financial contributions to the business, this can have a positive impact on equity. Also, the strengths of each individual, as long as they complement each other, can counterbalance any weaknesses. If, for example, one business partner is a good salesperson and the other keeps their eye on the business side of things, that can make for a good partnership.

Quote Dimitri Völk and Dennis Jung, App Developers
Dimitri Völk and Dennis Jung

If one of us had started up on our own, everything would have been much more difficult. Up to now, teamwork has gone a long way towards avoiding poor decisions. Because we don’t make decisions based on gut feelings; the three of us discuss the aspects of each project.

- Dimitri Völk and Dennis Jung, App Developers

Team start-ups are often more stable than individual start-ups. However, the key to a joint start-up is good teamwork. Teamwork experience is therefore a great advantage. Respect and keeping each other informed, recognition of the other person’s skills, similar ideas about strategy, future investment and working hours should be the basis of your joint venture to avoid splits resulting from conflicts within a short period of time. Be absolutely specific about the fundamental aspects of your business relationship and set it all out in a written contractual relationship. This ensures clarity and guards against misunderstandings and frustrations. When seeking potential partners, cooperation exchanges with chambers and business development agencies can provide assistance, as can a visit to regional start-up meetings.

Corporate succession

Taking over an existing company is another interesting way of setting up in business. You don’t have to start from scratch; instead, you can continue running an established business with access to existing products, customers and supplier relationships. Many of the STARTERCENTERS NRW are also partners in the NRW Corporate Succession network and can provide you with advice and support as you embark upon corporate succession.

Tip: nexxt-change Unternehmensbörse

Corporate succession offers throughout Germany are listed at:


Franchises offer off-the-shelf, tried-and-tested business concepts. You set up your own company under the established brand name and receive support and advice from the franchisor. In this business, you work within specified boundaries: the organisation of the business, tried-and-tested marketing measures and existing supplier relationships are therefore prescribed. As the franchisee, you pay a fee for these services to the franchisor. This type of business start-up can reduce business risk. However, take care to ensure that cooperation with the franchisor is fair. Although many franchisors are reliable, there are also a few who are less reputable. Find out as much as you can about the respective provider and seek professional help when drafting the agreement.

Tip: Franchise associations

You can obtain information from the following franchise associations: