Reading time: 15 minutes
Processing time: 90 minutes
You have now almost completed the 90-Day Program. Today is the penultimate day! In the meantime, you’ve already developed yourself and your idea to such an extent that it’s no longer possible to give you concrete tips on what to do on a daily basis. Therefore, I would like to offer my top 18 tips today, which will save you a lot of trouble and money as you progress:
- Take out private pension insurance and make sure it is protected in the event of insolvency.
- Always make written contracts, even if you loan your company funds from your private assets. Remember: contracts are there now so that you don’t need them later.
- Try to remain a sole proprietorship if possible, i.e., do not set up a partnership, as the requirements are often lower and the regulations easier to understand.
- Ensure that you adhere to the formal requirements according to your chosen legal form, for example, complete invoice numbers, produce your own receipts for issues without receipts, data protection requirements, customs clearance, etc. Not doing this will be expensive, frustrating, and will cause sleepless nights.
- Get a tax adviser early on, with whom you’ll get on well personally. There are so many administrative pitfalls – you cannot and do not want to know all of them. Again, concentrate on what you want to do and absolutely have to do yourself and look for suitable partners for everything else.
- You need clean bookkeeping, account management, cash management, and cost accounting from the very beginning. Discuss this with your tax consultant and find a service provider for this. Any carelessness here will be expensive and very painful later on.
- Avoid hiring employees for as long as possible, as this can lead to a whole host of liability and tax problems that make your life as a business owner more difficult. It’s great to create jobs, and it’s nice when you can do that, but avoid it until you’ve reached a critical size and gained adequate experience. It’s no help to anyone if you get sick from worrying about how to pay your monthly salaries and put a strain on yourself and your family. Instead, use self-employed people like yourself, service providers, temporary employment agencies, fixed-term contracts, etc.
- Beware of cheats. If you register your new business (e.g., in the commercial register) or apply for a trademark, you’re 100% certain to receive unsolicited letters from companies that charge fees for services you’ve never ordered and do not need. The letters look like they came from a public authority. They have received your details because a new entry has been made in an official database. Read such letters carefully and search for the slightest doubt about which “provider” is behind them.
- Make sure that you – or your partners who create something for you – observe the law on the small formalities so that you do not involuntarily become the victim of a warning issued by professional warning companies. Examples are an incomplete legal notice on your website, incorrect use of copyrighted sources (e.g., photos and images), missing mandatory information in commercial emails, newsletters, spam, advertising law, competition law, etc.
You can find more information on this topic at: www.90-Day-Programme.de/warning.
- Collect payment upfront, if possible, to avoid multiple annoyances and costs from reminders and the like.
- Take advantage of resources provided by local and national chambers of commerce, BNI (Business Network International, SBC (Small Business Development Center), your local Economic Development office, etc. if you have them, and even more so if you’re a compulsory member of them. Make an appointment to get to know them, explain what you do, and ask how they can support you. If you have a question, go to them first before you pay someone to answer it. They are there for you! There are many different and potentially valuable and useful resources not used by many because of ignorance.
- Start your business by yourself and avoid partners, if possible. It may be reassuring and be more fun to share joys and sorrows with someone. However, in practice, it turns out that sole proprietorships are easier to do while avoiding challenges with relationships and emotions. What may be an advantage in the startup phase can quickly become a disadvantage when it comes to day-to-day operations.
- As a self-employed person, take care of health insurance, retirement, nursing care, and social security in good time. The minimum contribution to private health insurance is high, even more so when you’re older or have a family. In addition, you often have to prepay for medical costs, which puts a strain on your cashflow.
- One of the most common stumbling blocks for the self-employed is a tax payment that often comes years later and is much higher than expected. A critical tip: set up your own bank account for tax payments, into which you always pay 30% of your estimated profit. You should also report any drop in profits directly to the tax office, as they will estimate your tax burden based on your profits in recent years.
- Save yourself the trouble of filing a patent. This is expensive because you absolutely need a patent attorney as it’s far too complicated to do it yourself. Also, it’s very unlikely patents will legally protect you since there are many ways to avoid a patent, the other side might have the better lawyers etc. Patents can be useful for advertising or as a deterrent to imitators. But there might be even easier, faster, and cheaper ways to achieve this.
- Regularly backup your data. It rarely happens, but once all the data is gone, the stress is great, and the work enormous. Buy an external hard drive and make a backup at least once a month using your operating system’s standard backup function.
- Define an abort criterion for your independence. Challenges are inherent in any startup, and you shouldn’t give up immediately when things get difficult and remember: a successful startup also takes time. That said, set a realistic timeframe and target criterion at which you’ll stop trying to set up your own business. Tell people you trust about this and ask them to question you at the appropriate time. For example: “If I don’t earn the running costs at the very minimum in a year, i.e., on 9/30/21, I will give up. And, if after two years, i.e., on 9/30/22, I don’t make at least $1,000 a month in profits, I’ll discontinue the business.” Avoid turning an end with horror into a horror without end.