How can a newbie freelancer get clients

Become self-employed as a freelancer

Helpful for freelancers

Liberal professions in numbers

According to the IFB, the Institute for Liberal Professions, around 1.38 million people in Germany were working as freelancers as of January 1, 2017. Most freelancers, with 382,000 freelancers, are located in the so-called free cultural professions. Other frequently represented groups of freelancers are:

  • Doctors - about 184,000
  • Other liberal health professions - about 230,000
  • Lawyers - about 124,000
  • Notaries: around 1470
  • Business consultants - about 44,600
  • Tax advisors - about 60,000
  • Chartered Accountants - about 9,300
  • Other legal, economic and tax advice. Liberal professions: around 138,800

And one trend is very clear in the statistics: freelancers are increasing every year. Because in 1992 the number of freelancers was still a total of 514,000. Since then, the number of freelancers has increased by several thousand each year. Further information on the individual sectors of freelancers can be found here.

Become a freelancer: Partnership, GbR, GmbH & UG

If you become a freelancer, you will initially work on your own, but you can also have employees.

  • Several freelancers form a partnership.
  • In the case of a merger of freelancers as a GbR, the benefit of the trade tax exemption is retained. However, it is important that all co-founders practice a liberal profession.

It is also possible for freelancers to set up a GmbH and an entrepreneurial company (UG) in order to limit liability - but this should be discussed with the relevant professional organization before becoming a freelancer. When a corporation is established, however, the company's profits are subject to trade tax. This eliminates the privilege of trade tax exemption for freelancers.

Liability and start-up capital for freelancers

Becoming a freelancer usually means that you are liable with your private assets, unless you set up a GmbH or UG. Start-up capital is therefore often not necessary when you become a freelancer - except, of course, when founding a corporation.

Due to personal liability, it is particularly important for freelancers to deal with the subject of insurance for freelancers at an early stage.

Infographic: Freelancer or Sole Proprietor?

The following infographic will help you to find out step by step whether you are a freelancer. The graphic opens when you click on the image below.

What are liberal professions?

For many business start-ups, the question arises as to when one takes up a freelance activity and thus fulfills the status of freelancer. The demarcation to a classic trade is not always clear and unambiguous. The tax office is responsible for recognizing whether a freelance activity is being carried out.

In principle, freelancers carry out scientific, artistic, educational or writing activities that are not subject to the trade regulations. According to Section 18 of the Income Tax Act and Section 1 of the Law on Partnership Companies, this includes the following liberal professions:

  • Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, naturopaths, physiotherapists, midwives, therapeutic masseurs, qualified psychologists
  • Members of the bar associations, patent attorneys, auditors, tax advisors, advisory economists and business economists, sworn auditors (sworn auditors), tax agents
  • Engineers, architects,
  • Commercial chemists, pilots, full-time experts,
  • Journalists, picture reporters, interpreters, translators and similar professions as well as scientists, artists, writers, teachers and educators

The liberal professions mentioned in the Income Tax Act such as lawyer, accountant or engineer are referred to as catalog professions. In addition, some liberal professions similar to the catalog professions have established themselves. This includes the IFB:

  • Temporary musician, mountain guide, sculptor, designer, dietitian, conductor, IT consultant, inventor, educator, photographer, cameraman, artist, lecturer, speech therapist, magician, marketing consultant, market researcher, musician, interior designer, actor, writer, dance teacher, dance and entertainment musician , Business consultant, make-up artist, copywriter and many more.

It is advisable to consult a tax advisor or lawyer so that the status of a freelancer can be clearly clarified. You can also request binding information from the tax office.

Very often freelancers are confused with freelancers (freelancers). Unfortunately, this is not always correct, because while the term freelancer describes the activity carried out, freelancer is the type of employment in the sense of employee, self-employed, etc.

Which insurance for freelancers?

Starting a business is also about avoiding risks. For many risks that you cannot control, there is insurance so that the financial impact does not mean an early end. But which insurance is worthwhile for freelancers? Do the needs analysis.

As a freelancer, you are liable with your private assets. It is all the more important that you are properly insured right from the start. Find out here which insurance is useful for freelancers!

Insurance for freelancers

Independent professions subject to compulsory membership

Often there are professional chambers - or chambers of registry - with which you have to register if you want to become self-employed as a freelancer. Independent professions subject to compulsory membership are:

  • Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists
  • Notaries, lawyers, patent attorneys
  • Tax advisor, auditor
  • Architects, consulting engineers

We have put together the addresses and contact details for the professional chambers for you.

Qualifications required for liberal professions

In the case of the liberal profession, similar to the master craftsman professions, a high level of professional competence and training must be proven in order to start a business with a freelance activity.

  • If you have to be a member of a chamber as a freelancer, proof of this will be provided by your chamber.
  • For other freelancers without compulsory membership, proof must be provided to public institutions.

If you are a freelancer, contact the chamber of registry responsible for you to find out the exact requirements for professional qualifications.

Law and taxes for liberal professions

As a freelancer, you should consider the following legal and tax law points when setting up your own business:

  • Legal form for freelancers
    As a lone fighter, you have the status of a freelancer. There is a special legal form of partnership for the merger of several freelancers. But you can also become self-employed as a freelancer in a GbR or GmbH. With a GmbH you lose the trade tax exemption for freelancers.
  • Registration for freelancers to start self-employment
    If you are self-employed as a freelancer, you do not have to register with the trade office, but directly with the tax office. Learn more about signing up.
  • Pension insurance for freelancers
    Compulsory insurance: For liberal professions for which there is a registry chamber, membership in a pension fund of the chamber is mandatory. As a result of membership, contributions for the pension insurance to the pension fund for freelancers are automatically due. In addition, there are other liberal professions that have to make mandatory payments to the pension insurance, as they are considered to be particularly in need of protection. These include, for example, teachers, midwives, sea pilots or coastal skippers. Of course, all other freelancers can also voluntarily pay into the pension insurance or make private provision for their pension.
  • Artists' social fund for liberal professions
    Artists and publicists must insure themselves with the artists' social insurance fund. The artists' social insurance fund then acts as a pension insurance, but also takes on health insurance and long-term care insurance for the freelancers.
  • Health insurance for freelancers
    If you as a freelancer do not have to pay for artists' social security anyway, you have to choose between statutory or private health insurance.
  • Taxes for freelancers
    Freelancers have the privilege of not usually having to pay any business tax. Freelancers only submit a trade tax return if part of the profit comes from commercial activity. Freelancers should discuss these kinds of questions with their tax advisor.
  • Current account or business account: We explain what is best for freelancers.

Hand in time-consuming tax issues to your tax advisor. And thanks to the special tax consulting packages for freelancers, you not only save time, but also money!

to the tax advisory packages

Use factoring for invoicing!

Acquiring a customer and billing that customer is good. It is better if the customer also pays his invoice. Many freelancers complain about their customers' poor payment practices. But there is a way out:

Use factoring as a pre-financing service for invoices. You sell your invoice to a factoring company and receive your money immediately. This means you no longer have to worry about dunning and you no longer have to chase after your money.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.