Self-employed in Germany


Being self-employed is more and more horror. Borderline workloads, minimal earnings margins, precarious living conditions, bureaucratic and legal hurdles – whether you’re a carpenter, an influencer or an editor – Germany is having a hard time with its 4.2 million self-employed, freelancers and SMEs. That’s just not how anyone wants to work anymore.

It didn’t help much that the German government adopted its start-up strategy for entrepreneurs on July 27 last year. A package of 127 measures to be implemented during the current legislative period. The aim was to provide growth capital, simplify the recruitment of talent from abroad and facilitate university spin-offs.

This strategy paper also states, among other things, how highly relevant self-employment is for society. Unfortunately, this must now be considered a cliché, because if this were really the case, the question arises as to why entrepreneurs have such a hard time in Germany. Why the hurdles are set higher, the stones more and more massive. Shouldn’t everything be done to ease the entry conditions? I’ve been writing this blog for over ten years now and I’m slowly running out of optimism. Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that Germany is and will remain a country of employees. That, like the former GDR, it tolerates the self-employed but gives them very little support. Strategy paper or not: Many self-employed people live precariously and would not be able to “survive” without the support of their partners.

Self and constantly – this paraphrase sounds like a funny metaphor, but for many it is bitter reality. Health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and so on – the list of costs that the self-employed have to bear themselves is long. That kills most of those who set out within the first five years. In 2023, there were statistically more start-ups again, but since on the other hand investors are hesitant, interest rates are rising and the global situation is more uncertain, it remains to be seen whether this means a turnaround.

In addition, the government is once again forgetting about the solo self-employed. Although there is a special program for female founders in Berlin, this too is basically a drop in the bucket. What it would take is nothing less than a jolt in the mindset. Because, as Sascha Lobo already wrote:

“Germany is the most employed country in the world, at least in terms of mindset. Added to the outright contempt for the self-employed by parts of politics and the administration are the various political narratives of rejection. Conservatives often see only successful self-employed people as valuable members of society; leftists often enough bring contempt and distrust of entrepreneurial activity.”

Quelle: Spiegel online

Of course, it’s easy to name problems; it’s harder to solve them. We, the Andersberater*innen, don’t have a standard solution in our pocket either, but we stand by those with advice and support who set out on the path despite all obstacles. We believe that self-employment is not only an alternative to being an employee, but also an opportunity for a new way of doing business. Many young entrepreneurs are guided by values and ideals that lie beyond turbo-capitalism. What drives them are sustainability, social justice and social values. We are happy to support that.

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