More and more networks are available, especially for female entrepreneurs/Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

How to set up a new business as an expat in Germany

There are many opportunities for startups in Germany. A few tips that will help you achieve success.

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Find a space for your ideas 

For years, Berlin has also been regarded as Germany’s startup capital. Every year, more than 500 new businesses are launched there. However, cities in the Ruhr region, such as Essen or Dortmund, repeatedly top the German rankings because renting office space for example is cheaper there.  

You should consider both the “what” and the “where” together, in other words: For instance, the green tech and automotive sectors are more likely to be found in southern cities like Freiburg and Karlsruhe. Startups in the areas of health and IT are currently enjoying success all over Germany. The social entrepreneur scene is also seeing strong growth nationwide because there can never be enough good ideas when it comes to combating the climate crisis or fostering equal opportunities.

Check your financing 

There are numerous funding programmes in Germany that are financed by the federal or state governments. Funding is available for innovative ideas in particular: With its Future Fund, the German government is making ten billion euros available at the KfW bank until 2030. 

You can also find a guide to financing and funding programmes at Make it in Germany. But no matter whether you are looking to secure a loan or venture capital: One absolute must is a carefully drawn up business plan that will serve as the basis for your funding. You can use for example the Gründerplattform to help you write your business plan.

Taking advantage of the free advice on offer 

You won’t need a startup coach to do that: You can discover how best to track down a tax advisor or your local Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the business startup portal of the Economics Ministry. Advice for expats is also on offer there.  

When looking for appropriate advice, always ask yourself what sets you and your idea apart. It also makes sense to seek information from the professional associations in your sector. Services are also available specifically for female entrepreneurs, for example at the National Agency for Women Startups Activities and Services.

Networking helps! 

As an entrepreneur you should definitely talk to others. As well as using the international platform LinkedIn, many people in Germany network via the professional platform Xing. Offline, you will also find industry associations or special interest groups helpful, as they offer networking events. Another great networking tip is to use co-working spaces, which can be found all over big cities but also in rural areas.  

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