How to become self-employed

How to become self-employed

By Published On: 3. December 2023


Have you had enough of constantly following orders from others and dream of being your own boss? Then it's time to think about self-employment. In this introduction, I'll show you how you can take the path to self-employment. We'll cover the basics: What does it mean to be self-employed and how does it differ from being an employee? We also clarify which legal basics you need to consider in Germany. However, self-employment is not just a matter of knowledge, but also of personal aptitude. Do you have what it takes to be your own boss? We take a look at what qualities you need and how you can develop your business idea and put it through its paces. From the business plan to the choice of legal form, from financing to registration - here you'll get an overview of everything you need to know. Let's get started - the dream of self-employment is already waiting for you!

Understanding the basics of self-employment

Being self-employed means more than just being your own boss. It's a completely different working world, with lots of freedom, but also responsibilities. In this section, we get to the bottom of the basic questions: What exactly is self-employment and what distinguishes a self-employed person from an employee? Not forgetting the legal principles that apply to the self-employed in Germany.

Definition of self-employment

Self-employment is a term that many people chase after, but what exactly does it mean? In a nutshell, Independence implies that a person carries out their professional activity without a fixed employment contract. Self-employed persons generally work on their own account, can organize their own working hours and are responsible for their own management. They must acquire customers themselves, secure their own financing and bear the entrepreneurial risk.

Differences between self-employment and being an employee

Employees have a contract with an employer that provides them with a regular income, benefits and often a certain level of job security. In contrast, the self-employed enjoy greater flexibility and freedom of choice in their work, but are also on their own when it comes to securing their income. In addition, the self-employed are responsible for their own social security, such as health and pension insurance. A Helpful summary of the differences offers differentiation in terms of dependency and independence in daily work.

Legal basis for the self-employed in Germany

German law provides for certain rules and regulations for the self-employed. It begins with the registration of a business or entry in the commercial register, depending on the legal form chosen. Self-employed persons must also take care of their own tax affairs, including advance VAT returns and income tax returns. In principle, freedom of trade applies in Germany, which means that anyone can carry out a trade. However, there are exceptions that require a special permit or qualification, such as in liability-intensive sectors or in the skilled trades. For more detailed information, you can consider the instructive content of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, such as the Legal requirements for setting up a business - IHK Chemnitz. There are also special laws that apply to freelancers, who do not have the same registration obligations as tradespeople. A good knowledge of these legal requirements is essential in order to be successfully and legally self-employed.

In concluding this section, we recognize that the step into self-employment should be well considered and prepared. It is not enough just to understand the concept and know the differences to being an employee. The legal framework in Germany sets the framework within which self-employment unfolds. If you do not deal with them in detail, this can lead to unpleasant surprises later on. It is therefore crucial to gain in-depth knowledge and, if necessary, seek expert advice.

Check personal suitability

Now that we have discussed the basics of self-employment, there is one crucial factor that should not be overlooked: personal suitability for self-employment. Before you dive headlong into the adventure of entrepreneurship, it's worth taking a look in the mirror and questioning whether you have the necessary qualities and skills that this journey requires.

Important qualities and skills of a self-employed person

Self-employment is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of creativity, discipline and, above all, an unwavering willingness to take risks. You need to be able to be proactive, because as a self-employed person you won't wake up every morning with a clear list of tasks. Instead, you are responsible for finding or creating opportunities yourself.

Leadership skills are also indispensable. You need to make decisions, perhaps even lead a team and always keep an eye on the direction of your company. It is also very important that you have excellent communication skills and can build up a network. You will need to communicate not only with customers, but also with suppliers, investors and perhaps even the press. An understanding of the The nature of independence is essential.

An often overlooked but extremely important aspect is self-reflection. You need to be able to give yourself honest feedback and recognize when it's time to change strategy or seek help. There will be moments when things don't go as planned, and being able to adapt and learn from them can make the difference between failure and success.

Willingness to take risks and stress resistance

Any self-employed entrepreneur will tell you that every opportunity comes with a risk. Having the right attitude to risk and being aware that not everything will always go smoothly are essential qualities of a self-employed person. You need to be able to recognize the potential as well as the pitfalls and make informed decisions based on this.

Resistance to stress is just as important as a willingness to take risks. The ability to remain calm under pressure and still work efficiently is essential for self-employed entrepreneurs. Long days, an uncertain future and financial uncertainties can be emotionally draining. It is therefore essential to find and apply methods of coping with stress.

Time management and self-organization

Probably the greatest freedom - and at the same time the greatest challenge - of self-employment is flexible time management. Proper time management is therefore a critical factor for success. Good Time management allows you to prioritize, meet deadlines and ultimately achieve more without overworking yourself.

Self-organization goes hand in hand with time management. It means having the ability to organize your workload, your projects and your life outside of work so that there is a harmonious balance. This includes managing your finances, delegating effectively and creating a work environment that encourages productivity.

Knowing yourself and being honest about your strengths and limitations is the first step on the exciting path to self-employment. By taking responsibility for your actions, having the indispensable will to learn and the stamina to persevere, you can make a successful start as a self-employed person.

With these thoughts in mind, we are now ready to discuss the next important step: developing and validating your business idea. Because having an idea is one thing, but making sure the market is waiting for it - that's the real challenge.

Develop and validate a business idea

A groundbreaking idea is the linchpin of any successful self-employment. But how do you turn a simple idea into a viable business concept? In this section, you will find out how you can not only develop your business idea, but also put it to the test and ensure that it has the potential to succeed.

Market research and target group analysis

Before you start your business, it is essential to understand who your customers are and what they need. Extensive market research and target group analysis form the foundation for your strategic decisions. By collecting data on potential customers and competitors, you can get a clear picture of the market. A Effective market analysis helps you to recognize trends, identify needs and discover potential gaps in the market - all decisive factors for the direction and design of your business idea.

The analysis should also include socio-demographic and psychographic aspects of your target group. Socio-demographic data such as age, gender, education and income give you an overview of the structure of your potential customers. Psychographic information, such as interests, attitudes and values, provide you with deeper insights into the purchasing motives and preferences of your target group. This is the only way you can tailor your offer precisely to the wishes and needs of your customers and hit the nerve of the market.

Define Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The Unique Selling Proposition, or USP for short, is the unique selling point that distinguishes your business idea from the competition. Your USP is the answer to the question: Why should customers buy from you and not from your competitors? It could be an innovative product feature, excellent customer service or a special price-performance ratio.

In order to define your USP, it is crucial to look at your offering from the customer's perspective and question what added value you offer. This requires not only a deep understanding of your target group, but also of your own skills and resources. Be as specific as possible, because a clearly communicated USP can be the basis for your marketing strategy and help you to become visible and sought-after in the market.

Validation of the business idea through tests and feedback

Even the most exciting business idea is useless if it misses the market. Validation is therefore a crucial step in the development of your business concept. To do this, you need to expose your idea to real-life conditions and get feedback directly from potential customers. A tried and tested method is to create a prototype or develop a minimum viable product (MVP) with which you can carry out initial tests. This helps you to test the acceptance of your target group and gain valuable insights before you invest too much time and money.

Obtaining customer feedback also allows you to continuously improve your idea. Make sure you are open to criticism and adapt your business idea accordingly. It can be useful to gain insight into established methods for Validation of your business idea or bring in experts for market research. Sometimes even small changes can make a big difference.

Finally, the process of developing and validating a business idea is an iterative journey that requires patience and adaptability. It is imperative that you learn to react quickly and change your business model decisively if necessary to maximize your chances of success. With a well-thought-out business idea tailored to the market, you lay the foundation for your successful self-employment.

Create a business plan

A solid business plan is not only a road map to your business success, but also an indispensable tool for convincing investors and banks of your business idea. A well-thought-out business plan helps you to set clear goals, develop strategies and recognize potential obstacles early on. But what does a convincing business plan look like and what should you bear in mind when creating it? Let's tackle these important questions and ensure that your business plan forms the foundation for successful self-employment.

Defining goals and strategies

The first step of any business plan is to set clearly defined goals and develop well thought-out strategies to achieve them. Start by outlining your short, medium and long-term goals. Specify what you want to achieve in the next three months, one year or five years. Qualitative goals, such as customer satisfaction and brand awareness, can be just as important as quantitative goals, such as sales or profit increases.

Strategies are the ways to achieve these goals. Think carefully about which steps are necessary to realize your goals. This may include identifying core competencies, building a customer base or developing new products. Also consider potential risks in your strategies and develop plans to minimize or counter them. For further guidance on setting your goals, a Guide to creating a business plan be helpful.

Financial planning and capital requirements

No business can survive without solid financial planning. Your financial planning should include a detailed list of start-up capital requirements, running costs and expected income. Think carefully about how much money you need to start your business and get to the break-even point - the point at which income covers expenses.

Your capital requirements can be made up of various sources, be it equity, borrowed capital or subsidies. Make sure that you plan a buffer for all eventualities, as unexpected expenses are usually unavoidable. A clear, comprehensible financial plan is not only convincing for you, but also for potential investors or lenders. Gain further insight into the topic with tips and tricks on how to draw up a financial plan for your self-employment.

Marketing and sales concept

Now that the financial basics have been clarified, it's time to work out your marketing and sales concept. This is where you define how you will sell your products or services. Get creative and think about which marketing channels are best suited to your company. Social media marketing, content marketing or more traditional marketing such as flyers and print ads can be part of your strategy.

A good sales concept defines how you will sell your products or services to your customers. Whether online via your own webshop or offline in a store - adapt your sales concept to your target group and the characteristics of your products or services. A detailed marketing and sales strategy shows potential business partners and investors that you have a clear plan for the growth of your company.

To summarize, creating a thorough business plan is an essential step towards successful self-employment. This process will help you organize your thoughts, provide a clear direction and serve as a persuasive argument to business partners. Remember that a business plan is a living document that evolves with your business. Be prepared to adapt your plan if new information or circumstances require it.

Choose legal form for the company

The decision for a legal form is as individual as the business idea itself. It not only influences the tax burden and accounting obligations, but also the way in which you can appear in legal transactions and how much liability risk you personally bear. You should therefore not leave the choice of legal form to chance.

Overview of German legal forms

In Germany, you have the choice between different legal forms. These vary, particularly in terms of liability, capital requirements and complexity of formation. The most common legal forms include the sole proprietorship, the partnership under civil law (GbR), the general partnership (OHG), the limited partnership (KG) and the corporations, including the limited liability company (GmbH) and the stock corporation (AG).

Sole proprietorships are often an attractive option for solo self-employed people, as they are easy to set up and incur low costs. You have complete freedom of choice, but also unlimited liability. Partnerships such as the GbR or OHG are popular for team start-ups, while the GmbH with its limited liability provides security, but requires more start-up costs and more capital. A Overview of German legal forms will help you to better understand the differences and find the right legal form for your company.

Criteria for the choice of legal form

The decision for a legal form should be carefully weighed up. Criteria such as the number of founders, the desired limitation of liability, capital requirements, tax aspects and the willingness to deal with bureaucracy all play a role. An individual founder with a low-risk business idea has different requirements than a tech start-up that wants to attract investors. Tax optimization is another aspect that plays a role, especially when it comes to profit expectations.

You should not only make a provisional decision in advance, but also seek expert advice in order to assess the long-term consequences - for example with regard to the possibility of selling shares or taking on additional shareholders at a later date. An internal discussion with a tax consultant or attending a start-up seminar can be informative here.

Start-up costs and liability issues

The start-up costs can vary considerably depending on the legal form. A sole proprietorship can be registered quickly and easily, whereas a GmbH requires notary appointments, minimum capital and entry in the commercial register. You should take these factors into account from both a time and cost perspective. Liability is also a crucial point: while you are liable with your private assets as a sole proprietor or partner in a general partnership, this is limited to the capital contribution in the case of a GmbH or AG. This protects your private assets from business risks.

It is important to take a close look at the topic, as sometimes a wrong decision can not only be risky, but also have long-term disadvantages. You can find guidance and comprehensive information on specialist portals or at advice centers such as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Don't forget to also Criteria for the choice of legal form thoroughly in order to make the best decision for your company.

The choice of legal form is more than a formality - it lays the foundation for the structure, security and future viability of your company. Take the time to consider the various options and choose wisely - your future self will thank you!

Financial planning is the be-all and end-all of every business start-up. But even with a brilliant business plan in the bag, the question remains: how can the initial phase be financed? This is where funding and subsidies come into play, floating like lifebelts for founders in the sea of expenses. So, let's dive in and find out how to get your entrepreneurial venture off the ground safely with the right finances - and more importantly, how to get the right benefit from the ocean of funding opportunities.

Overview of financing options

Financing is a wide-ranging field and there are numerous ways to obtain the necessary start-up capital. Equity is the starting point for many founders. The next step is often to consider bank loans, which, backed up by your business plan, are a classic form of financing. But friends and family can also help out - thanks to the famous "F&F rounds". From angel investors to venture capital companies, there are also external financiers who not only provide money, but often also valuable expertise and networks.

But the world of financing does not end here. With alternative types of financing, such as crowdfunding, founders have the opportunity to present their concept to a wide audience and thus collect support in small contributions. This method not only provides seed capital, but can also be an excellent marketing strategy as it generates initial customer interest. Especially in the digital world, the Financing options via the crowd are now diverse and should not be ignored.

State subsidies and grants

State subsidies can be a blessing for your self-employment. They come in various forms, such as low-interest loans, guarantees or even non-repayable grants. In Germany, KfW Bankengruppe is a central point of contact that offers various funding programs for start-ups and entrepreneurs. However, extensive support programs are also provided at state level and by the EU.

In order to find the right funding, you should inform yourself thoroughly and plan well in advance. The application process can be complex and often requires a detailed description of your project. But it's worth the effort: funding can help you reduce your risk and strengthen your financial base. A good starting point for your research is the website Subsidies per federal state for your business start-upwhich provides an overview of available funding programs depending on the federal state.

Crowdfunding and finding investors

Crowdfunding is not only a financing tool, but also a kind of validation of your business model. If the crowd is interested in your idea, it can send a strong signal to potential investors. Platforms such as Kickstarter, Startnext or Indiegogo allow you to present your product or service to a broad, often international audience. A successful crowdfunding campaign can generate seed capital and build a brand at the same time.

In addition to crowdfunding, finding investors is another key to financing. Business angels, private investors with experience and capital, often support start-ups not only financially, but also with their expertise and network. Venture capital companies or corporate ventures, i.e. companies that invest in start-ups, are also interesting options for start-ups in later growth phases.

It is important that you know what investors are looking for - a strong team, an innovative idea and a clear market need. Prepare for pitch events where you can present your company and use networking events to make contacts. Remember that investors are looking for partnerships that go beyond money; be open to feedback and willing to learn from their experience. You can find a comprehensive list and evaluation of various investors on platforms such as EU start-upsto help you find the right partner.

Regardless of which route you take to fund your business, be aware that each option has its pros and cons. Like a navigational chart, careful research and planning will help you steer your course through the stormy seas of funding and grants. Get ready to grab hold of the rudder and sail off towards your entrepreneurial freedom!

Applications and authorizations

When your dreams of freedom and self-employment start to take shape, there's one bureaucratic act you can't avoid: business registration and permits. Whether dealing with the authorities or online processes, nobody likes paperwork, but without this step, the 'self-employment' project remains a castle in the air. So let's delve into the world of formalities and make sure you are well prepared.

Business registration and deregistration

Before you can get started with your business, you need to register your business. In Germany, this is the formal declaration that you want to run a business. To do this, you need to go to the relevant trade office or register online. The process is relatively straightforward, but important in order to be allowed to work legally. Not only the intention to make a profit plays a role, but also compliance with certain regulations. Going to the trade office provides you with a trade number and is the starting point for all further steps, such as obtaining a tax number from the tax office. The importance of registering your business should not be underestimated, as mistakes here can lead to difficulties later on. Thorough preparation is therefore important, which includes collecting the necessary documents and information. For more detailed instructions, visit Registering a business - what you need to bear in mindto get an overview of the entire process.

Necessary permits and licenses

Depending on the nature of your business, additional permits or licenses may be required. For example, if you want to open a restaurant, you will need permits from the health authority in addition to the business registration. If you are planning to operate in regulated sectors such as financial services, professional qualifications or licenses may be a must. It is advisable to find out early on which industry-specific permits are required. For example, research on trustworthy sources such as the Website of the Chamber of Industry and Commerceto find relevant information for your business. Don't underestimate the time it takes to complete these formalities - sometimes it can take weeks or months for all the permits to be issued.

Dealing with the tax office

An essential part of your self-employment is your obligation to the tax office. After registering your business, you will automatically be contacted by the tax office to register you for tax purposes. You will receive forms in which you must state your estimated income so that the tax office can determine your tax prepayments. Every business activity is subject to different tax rules, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with the topics of VAT, income tax and trade tax in good time. Not only books such as "Taxes for Dummies" can be informative, but also a visit to a tax consultant can answer your unclear questions and save you from future tax traps. You can also find more information on the correct procedure at How do I prepare for the tax office as a self-employed person?.

Registrations and permits may seem dry, but they are the foundation for a legal and successful business. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your industry, keep an eye on all deadlines and don't let the bureaucracy put you off. With perseverance and thoroughness, you will overcome this hurdle - and soon reap the rewards of your own self-employment.

Accounting and taxes

For many aspiring self-employed people, bookkeeping and taxation are not exactly among their favorite tasks. Nevertheless, this area in particular is crucial for the long-term success of your business. Proper bookkeeping not only ensures transparency and a financial overview, but is also required by law. You can also save money and avoid costly mistakes with knowledge of tax law. In the following sections, we look at the basics of bookkeeping, the necessary tax knowledge and the differences between the various taxes that are relevant for the self-employed in Germany.

Accounting basics

The purpose of bookkeeping is to keep a complete record of all business transactions. This is not only important for the tax office or in the event of an audit, but also gives you important insights into the financial health of your company. A basic distinction is made between single-entry and double-entry bookkeeping. Which form you have to use depends, among other things, on the legal form of your company and your annual turnover.

For freelancers and small businesses, simple bookkeeping is often sufficient, in which income and expenditure are compared. Corporations and larger companies are generally obliged to use double-entry bookkeeping, which provides a more precise picture of the company's finances. As a beginner, it can be useful to acquire basic accounting knowledge through appropriate online courses or specialist literature. To deepen your knowledge and answer specific questions, for example, the online offer Accounting basics for start-ups and the self-employed.

Value added tax and income tax

Sales tax, often referred to as VAT, affects almost all entrepreneurs. It is levied on almost all sales for goods and services and must be paid to the tax office on a monthly or quarterly basis. Pre-registration is a compulsory exercise and should never be postponed or forgotten in order to avoid reminder fees. However, VAT also has an advantage: you can claim input tax, i.e. have the tax on your operating expenses refunded by the tax office.

Income tax, which is levied on your entire income, including the profits from your self-employed activity, is also unavoidable. Early planning can be helpful here, especially for beginners, to avoid being surprised by high additional payments. It is advisable to carefully calculate your profits and build up reserves in order to meet your tax obligations without any nasty surprises. You can find more on this topic on sites such as Accounting obligation under tax lawwhich offer a wealth of information on this topic.

Tax benefits and obligations

As a self-employed person, you naturally have tax obligations. These include not only the payment of sales and income tax, but also the timely submission of tax returns. On the other hand, you can also benefit from tax advantages: These include write-offs for investments, operating expenses that reduce your tax burden or tax allowances. It's worth familiarizing yourself with tax law or consulting a tax advisor so that you don't miss out on any benefits and meet all obligations correctly.

A comprehensive understanding of tax benefits and obligations is crucial to the financial success of your business. Accounting may seem complex, but if handled correctly, it can offer you many financial benefits. Find out more, for example, on the page How do I organize my bookkeeping as a self-employed person?to set up an efficient accounting system.

To summarize, good bookkeeping and solid tax knowledge are key elements for your self-employment. By dealing appropriately with the tax office and tax legislation, you are laying the foundations for a fiscally sound and growing business. Don't put off dealing with these issues, because a solid financial foundation pays off.

Insurance and pensions

Becoming self-employed doesn't just mean taking care of your own business ideas or having your day-to-day business under control. One particularly important aspect that is often overlooked is having the right insurance cover and planning your pension provision. Precisely because you are not automatically covered by statutory social insurance like employees, it is all the more important to inform yourself and make provisions.

Necessary insurance for the self-employed

The world of insurance is large and diverse, and there are some policies that are essential for the self-employed. Health insurance, for example, is required by law - without it, you run the risk of facing high costs in the event of illness. But which insurance you ultimately need depends heavily on your individual situation and your business sector. Liability insurance can protect you against claims for compensation from third parties if someone is injured in the course of your professional activities or you damage someone else's property. Product or professional liability insurance protects you if damage occurs as a result of your work.

It also makes sense to think about occupational disability insurance. This will cover you if you are no longer able to work due to illness or an accident. You should also consider business interruption insurance, which comes into play if you have to close your business temporarily due to a claim, for example. Comprehensive advice is worth its weight in gold here, so take a look at information sites such as What insurance you need as a self-employed personto get an overview of essential insurances.

Occupational disability and liability insurance

Occupational disability insurance protects you and your livelihood if you are no longer able to work due to illness or an accident. As a self-employed person, your income is directly linked to your ability to work, so you should pay particular attention to this point.

Liability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance of all. It covers damage that you cause to third parties - whether through negligence or accidents. Particularly in a professional context, such damage can quickly threaten your livelihood if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. Different industries require different types of liability insurance, which is why it is essential to consider this topic individually.

Old-age provision and pension insurance

Pension provision is an often neglected topic. As a self-employed person, you are not covered by pension insurance by law, so it is up to you to take care of your future. There are various ways to do this, such as private pension provision, the Rürup pension (basic pension) or compulsory pension insurance for certain occupational groups - especially with the structural changes introduced by the new law from 2024. While employees are covered by their employer's contributions, you are responsible for saving for your own pension entitlements. It's worth starting early and informing yourself thoroughly, for example on the website of the German Pension Insurance or by talking to an insurance expert.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, you need to plan ahead and protect yourself comprehensively. Your health, your business and your future depend on it. The earlier you take care of your insurance and pension provision, the better protected you are and the more you can concentrate on what you do best - making your business a success.

In the age of digitalization and globalization, a solid network is worth its weight in gold. It opens doors, offers opportunities and creates a basis for stable growth. But a network doesn't happen overnight - it takes time, effort and the right strategy. At the same time, marketing is the figurehead of your company. It makes visible what you have to offer and attracts customers. In this section, I will explain how you can build a professional network and the importance of online marketing. Let's dive into the world of networking and marketing together to take your business to the next level.

Importance of a professional network

A professional network is far more than just a collection of contacts. It can be seen as an ecosystem in which each member can contribute resources, information, contacts and support. It is not about the number of contacts, but about the quality of the relationships and the mutual give and take. For the self-employed, a strong network is a crucial factor for success because it provides access to new customers, cooperation partners and can even help to overcome critical business challenges.

To expand your network, you should regularly attend networking events, industry conferences and be active on social media platforms. You can also start on a smaller scale by asking acquaintances from your existing network for recommendations. Through the right network strategy can significantly increase the visibility of your business and lead to sustainable success.

Online marketing and social media

Online marketing is indispensable these days. A presence on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram allows you to reach out to your target group in a targeted manner and interact with them. This allows you to spread your brand message, create customer proximity and ultimately increase your sales. A planned and consistent presence on social media can significantly increase your reach and boost customer engagement.

Think about which platforms are of particular interest to your customers and create content that offers added value. A regularly updated blog or informative videos can help your audience develop a better understanding of your offering. You can also run advertising campaigns to generate targeted attention. External service providers such as Google AdWords or Facebook Ads can effectively support your marketing. Find out more about Various social media marketing strategiesto get off to the best possible start.

Offline marketing and personal contacts

Despite the dominance of online marketing, offline marketing must not be neglected. Personal contacts are still one of the most valuable ways to do business and establish partnerships. Face-to-face conversations at events, trade fairs or networking meetings create trust and closeness - something that is often difficult to achieve virtually.

Using traditional marketing tools such as business cards, brochures or direct mail can also be effective in reaching a local audience or spreading your message. Especially in the B2B sector, personal relationships and a strong local market presence are often the key to long-term business relationships. Never forget that in the physical world, the quality of the relationship often determines the quantity of contacts.

A successful company is based on a mix of a well-maintained network and well thought-out marketing. You need to be active both online and offline and use the right channels and methods for your business. With commitment and creativity, you can build a strong brand and make your self-employment a complete success. And at the end of the day, one thing counts: building authentic, profitable relationships that drive both your network and your marketing. So get ready to conquer the world of networking and marketing - it's already waiting for you!

The hunt for customers and the efficient management of orders are at the heart of every self-employed business. It's about convincing interested parties, turning them into loyal customers and then nurturing these relationships so that one-off orders turn into long-term partnerships. But how do you manage to acquire exactly the right customers from the vastness of the market? And how do you ensure that orders are processed smoothly? This essential area of your entrepreneurship is waiting to be mastered by you.

Strategies for customer acquisition

Customer acquisition starts with a clear strategy. It is important to first find out who your target customers are, what they need and how you can best approach them. Whether through cold calling, referral marketing or digital channels - there are many ways to acquire new customers. But be careful: not every method suits every business model or personality.

Many self-employed people rely on online marketing, as it offers the opportunity to reach your target group with pinpoint accuracy using precise tools and extensive data analysis. Search engine optimization (SEO), targeted advertisements (e.g. via Google Ads or social media platforms) and valuable content that highlights your expertise are just some of the tools at your disposal. Networking is also an inexhaustible source of potential customer contacts, especially if you work in conjunction with the the right strategy for customer acquisition and expand your personal network in a meaningful way.

Order processing and customer care

As soon as you have won over customers, professional order processing is required. This includes not only the smooth start of the project, but also ongoing communication with your customer and controlling in order to deliver on time and within budget. It is essential that you establish a project management system that gives you an overview of all ongoing processes. Tools such as Trello or Asana can help you manage tasks and monitor progress.

However, maintaining customer relationships must not be forgotten after the order has been completed. Follow-up orders and recommendations are often the result of good customer care. Simple gestures such as thank-you letters or asking for feedback can go a long way. Also remember to regularly provide your customers with news about your company or industry updates, which is a valuable form of after-sales marketing.

Dealing with rejections and failures

Self-employment is not only paved with successes. Rejections and failures are part of the journey and are important for your personal and entrepreneurial development. Dealing with rejections professionally is therefore essential. Don't wallow in self-doubt, but use every rejection as an opportunity to learn and optimize your offers or your approach. Be open to constructive feedback and adapt your strategy if necessary.

It is crucial that you don't give up and that you draw motivation from every "no" to do better next time. Success in self-employment is often a question of perseverance. Stay on the ball, develop resilience and remember that every rejected offer brings you a step closer to your goal of being a successful self-employed person. Find out more about how to deal strategically with rejection in the Guide to successful customer acquisition.

By facing these challenges, we not only build a profitable business, but also develop personally. A solid foundation of acquisition skills, organizational strength and the ability to deal with failure paves the way for a flourishing self-employment.

In our fast-paced world, the balance between work and private life can quickly become unbalanced - especially when you start your own business. Taking time for personal development is just as essential as business growth. Because only those who grow as a person can be sustainably successful as an entrepreneur. In this section, we will look at how you can create the basis for a healthy work-life balance with targeted time management and prioritization and which techniques can help you cope with stress in order to master your everyday life as a self-employed person more calmly.

Time management and prioritization

Effective time management is the key to mastering the balancing act between professional obligations and personal happiness. It starts with setting clear priorities. What is important to you? Which activities will really get you ahead and which can be delegated or even eliminated? It helps to categorize your tasks according to urgency and importance and plan accordingly. Tools and methods such as the Eisenhower matrix or the Pomodoro technique can help you to make better use of your time and work more efficiently.

Structured daily planning with fixed times for work tasks and sufficient breaks prevents you from getting lost in details or even burning out. Good time management enables you to cope better with stressful phases and also create the necessary space for relaxation and family. Follow the recommendations on this topic, for example in the article How does effective time management work?to optimize your working days.

Coping with stress and creating balance

Stress is a constant companion in self-employment, but it shouldn't dominate your life. In the long term, stress can have a negative impact not only on your health, but also on your business. It is therefore important to learn and apply stress management techniques. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep and a balanced diet are elementary building blocks for counteracting stress.

Relaxation methods such as meditation, autogenic training or simple breathing exercises can also help you to calm down. Make a conscious effort to set times when you switch off - both digitally and mentally. A hobby that you enjoy can serve as a wonderful balance. In addition, working with a stress management coach can open up new perspectives on how you can better deal with pressure. Use resources like the page use power curve for further techniques and tips.

Training and lifelong learning

The world is changing rapidly and with it the demands on the self-employed. Further training and lifelong learning are therefore essential. Whether through online courses, workshops or books - educate yourself. Learning new skills is not only crucial for your business, but also for your personal development.

It's not just about staying on the ball and following new trends, but also about developing yourself as a person. This not only opens up new horizons for your business, but also strengthens your self-esteem and your position on the market. Take advantage of educational opportunities such as webinars or specialist conferences to exchange ideas with other self-employed people and experts. On platforms such as Udemy you can learn new things on almost any topic and decide for yourself when and where you learn.

The secret to true satisfaction as a self-employed person lies in a balanced life in which professional success and personal well-being go hand in hand. Therefore, invest as much time in yourself and your needs as you do in your business. That way, you can lead a fulfilling life that will benefit both you and your business.

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About the Author: Sven Emmrich

Sven Emmrich avatar
Sven is a business graduate, DEKRA-certified coach and passionate entrepreneur. As CEO of Karrierehelden, he has been writing for many years on all career topics such as job applications and job changes, money and salary negotiations, leadership skills and management issues, psychology and personality development, communication and conflict management, self-confidence and entrepreneurship, and the line between work and private life with work-life balance... or much more work-life integration. Sven has coached over 1,000 academics, professionals and executives with his team and is happy to help you too.
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