Start-up grant guide: What to consider when applying

Gründungszuschuss beantragen & bewilligt bekommen - vom Arbeitsamt in die Selbstständigkeit wechseln

1. what is a start-up grant?

If you become unemployed and cannot find a halfway adequate job, you can apply for government funding to start your own business. The subsidy is intended to make it easier for unemployed people to take the step into self-employment. However, the grant is linked to certain conditions. Only those who are aware of these and take the right steps at the right time can benefit fully from the funding instrument and apply for the start-up grant. The deadlines for submitting the application are particularly important here.

Current information on the start-up grant can also be found here: Gründungszuschuss 2.0.

What does "grant" mean?

Grant means that you get the money as a gift. You do not have to pay back the money - the start-up grant.

2 What is the purpose of the start-up grant?

The purpose of the start-up grant is to enable you to cover your living costs in the initial period of your self-employment and to provide you with social security (e.g. health insurance, etc.). Acquisitions and investments may not be financed from this.

From the point of view of the Federal Employment Agency, the goal is that you can permanently end your unemployment through your self-employment.

Therefore, the Federal Employment Agency attaches great importance to:

  1. the expert opinion on the viability of your business start-up
  2. the own examination by the Federal Employment Agency.

3. What is important when applying for the start-up grant?

You would like to become permanently free from drawing unemployment benefits through your self-employment. Is the payment of the start-up grant necessary for this?

You must explain to the Federal Employment Agency whether the start-up grant is necessary to secure your livelihood and your social security (according to § 93 SGB III).

The necessity of the start-up grant on the one hand and the proof of the viability of your self-employed activity on the other hand should be made comprehensible by the business plan you have to submit.

In order for you to be granted the start-up subsidy, the person in charge at the Federal Employment Agency needs a so-called sustainability certificate. This certificate serves as proof that your business start-up is viable, i.e. that you are likely to be able to finance your livelihood and social security (health insurance, etc.) yourself on a permanent basis through your business start-up without continuing to receive unemployment benefits.

The certificate of viability is sent by an expert body to the Federal Employment Agency. The expert body has the necessary expertise to assess whether your self-employment activity can generate profit so that your livelihood and social security are guaranteed.

4. starting up from unemployment

Unemployed persons who wish to apply for a start-up grant must have previously paid into the statutory unemployment insurance scheme for at least 12 months, i.e. they must have worked for at least one year in an activity that is subject to social insurance contributions. Appropriate proof of this must be provided. Only then are unemployed persons entitled to ALG I. Before applying for a start-up grant, the unemployed must have been entitled to ALG I for at least five months, i.e. around 150 days. Unemployed persons planning to become self-employed should use this time to prepare for their future activities, but must still be available to the primary labor market during this period.

5. state subsidies for the foundation

If the deadlines and conditions are consistently observed by the applicant when founding a company from unemployment, the unemployed founder can extend the duration of ALG I beyond the regular reference period of twelve months by six months. During this time, the founder receives his ALG I in the previous amount for another 6 months. These are subsidies in accordance with SGB III and are intended to help the future self-employed person through the difficult first months after founding the company and to facilitate entry into self-employment. The founder can thus cover his living expenses without having to fall back on savings. In addition to ALG I, the founder receives an additional 300 euros in social security contributions for 6 months.

After expiration of the support of 6 months there is another possibility to apply for support funds. The founder can still receive 300 euros per month for social security for another nine months. The contributions for the health insurance are thus secured for another nine months. Unlike unemployment benefit I, which is extended by six months, these additional nine months are not financed from the contributions of the statutory social insurance, but from tax revenues. The legal basis can be found accordingly in § 93 SGB III. Evidence must also be provided for this second application. The founder must be able to present the economic situation in tangible figures and show a perspective for the next 6 months, i.e. how his company will most likely develop.

6. nothing works without a business concept

The applicant should definitely work out a rough business concept for his future self-employment. This does not have to be a detailed business plan. It should nevertheless show that the founder will be able to live from his business, i.e. support himself, within 36 months at the latest. However, the first six months or the seventh month are particularly important. Here, the applicant must prove that the business is viable and that the founder can live from it. Surpluses must be proven in the figures. This is the entrepreneur's salary, which must enable the founder to live adequately. In addition to the planned figures of the business concept, the founder must provide a textual description of his project. This should comprise between 20 and 30 pages. The third part then comprises the enclosure package. In addition to the curriculum vitae and the business and tax registration, this also includes certificates of participation in a start-up seminar and the like.

In any case, the founder needs an expert opinion from a third party for the business concept. In a sense, it is the business plan for the start-up grant. Depending on the scope and level of detail, between 50 and 150 euros should be budgeted for the expert opinion. The expert opinion can be carried out by the IHK, a tax consultant or a management consultant. X-GROUP GmbH Institut für Gründung, Finanzierung und Geschäftsentwicklung in Berlin has a lot of experience in this field and has already issued opinions for hundreds of business concepts, of which over 90 percent have been approved.

7. applying for a start-up grant: You need these documents for the expert opinion.

In order to make the required assessment, the expert body will need various information and supporting documents from you:

  1. Your curriculum vitae and certificates, in order to be able to prove which professional knowledge and commercial skills you have already acquired
  2. information on what knowledge of your industry you already have
  3. Your business plan, in which you explain in more detail various aspects of yourself and your self-employment, including
    1. Your product or service and its unique selling proposition.
    2. Who you expect to be your customers
    3. What marketing measures you are planning
    4. What sales you expect
    5. How much profit you expect to generate
    6. How you plan to finance your business
    7. What prospects of success you see

Above all, the business plan will reveal the viability of your start-up.

8. What deadlines must the founder observe when applying for the start-up grant?

In order for the process to be successful, certain deadlines must be observed by the founder. Only after the unemployed person has received his ALG-I notice, he should become active in this direction. Not before. The Bezieher of ALG I after SGB III, must be available to the job market in principle. On it Daniel shepherd, managing director of the X-GROUP GmbH in Berlin points expressly out. The case worker of the agency for work is urged to submit constantly job offers to the unemployed person. The unemployed person must cooperate in the first 1 - 3 months after receipt of the decision with the work mediator, must furnish to this proofs over applications and refusals, before it can request the establishment subsidy. Only after this, i.e. after the first few months, can the employment mediator issue the forms for applying for start-up subsidies. At this point, it should be remembered once again that the applicant must still have at least 5 months of ALG-I receipt ahead of him/her when submitting the application. If this period has elapsed, it depends on the goodwill of the mediator whether the application is still permitted. In the worst case, the unemployed person is completely denied the application. The unemployed person then no longer has the possibility of receiving a start-up grant and - if he or she does not find a job during the reference period - will slide into ALG II, i.e. Hartz IV, after ALG I expires.

Applying for a start-up subsidy - simply explained & done!

What can you do so that the decision is more likely to be in your favor, i.e. that you will be paid start-up subsidy?

  • You present your personal and professional knowledge and skills.
  • You present a convincing business plan

9. apply for start-up subsidy if you already have a trade

If the unemployed person has already registered a trade as a sideline and is generating sales, this is in principle not an obstacle to applying for a start-up grant. However, there are certain rules that must be observed if you want to receive state funding for your start-up. Basically, the following applies: In sideline business, the unemployed person may work up to a maximum of 15 hours per week and the generated profit may not exceed 165 euros per week.

The background is as follows: The employment agency still assumes that the founder is available to the primary labor market, i.e. can be placed, even if he generates sideline sales. He can, of course, generate much higher sales than the 165 euros. For example, he could well generate 1,000 euros in income if he produces expenses for 835 euros. For example, for a laptop or a website. In no case may the average weekly additional earnings exceed the limit of 165 euros. Otherwise, the amount exceeding the 165 euros will be offset against ALG I, resulting in a reduction of unemployment benefit I. However, there are exceptions. If the claimant has earned income as a sideline in the last twelve months or longer and the average earnings per week are higher. In that case, the amount is increased accordingly.

Once the application for a start-up grant has been approved, the founder can theoretically generate one million euros per month in income. This has no influence on the approved payment of the subsidy. The funds approved in the notice of approval can no longer be reduced and flow in the approved amount.

Further information on the start-up grant: Can I apply for start-up subsidy with a trade?

10. why the use of a business consultant is worthwhile

Are you applying for a start-up grant and want to play it safe? Then you should ideally work with a management consultant. Even if the consultant should cost a few hundred euros. The specialist consultant for subsidies and business start-ups, Daniel Schäfer, points out that this ultimately involves amounts of up to 15,000 euros in subsidies plus the 2,700 euros for social security. It would simply be a pity if these funds were not approved because the founder made formal errors in the application, which lead to rejection. But even if all else fails and the founder - for whatever reason - does not benefit from funding or the carrying capacity has not been reached in the seventh month, there is still the possibility of receiving grants for living expenses or investment grants in the start-up phase. However, these subsidies are then provided under SGB II and are the responsibility of the job center.

11 Important facts about the start-up grant

In the following, you will find the most important general conditions for the granting of the start-up subsidy:

  • There is no obligation for the Federal Employment Agency to pay you the start-up grant. Instead, it is a discretionary decision, which means that your responsible case worker must
    at the Federal Employment Agency will write a statement explaining why you are receiving the start-up grant or why you are not being paid a start-up grant. Your case worker will therefore need arguments so that the start-up grant can be paid to you.
  • It is not possible to switch directly from employment to self-employment supported by the start-up grant.
  • Placement in an employment relationship has priority over the payment of the start-up grant. Therefore, it will first be checked whether you can be placed in dependent employment. Only after this check can a start-up subsidy be possible.
  • You apply for the start-up grant before you start your full-time self-employed activity, whereby the self-employed activity has a scope of at least 15 hours per week.
    If you have another activity, it must be less hours per week than your self-employed activity in order for your self-employed activity to be considered full-time.
    In addition, you can only receive the allowance if you were registered as unemployed and receiving unemployment benefit I before you started your self-employment activity.
  • You need a date when you will start your full-time self-employment activity. If you are already self-employed on a full-time basis, please indicate since when.
  • If you are currently self-employed on a part-time basis, it is necessary that you make it your full-time activity
  • You must prove to the Federal Employment Agency that you have taken up self-employment.
    This is done either by submitting proof of business registration (for commercial professions) or at the tax office (for freelance activities) and in the case of craft professions: confirmation from the register of craftsmen.
    If you have already carried out your self-employed activity as a sideline, the registrations with the trade office or the tax office or the register of craftsmen must prove that you changed from sideline to main occupation.
  • If you have already been self-employed in the past and have given up self-employment, you may still be eligible for a start-up grant.
    You must explain to the Federal Employment Agency why you gave up your former self-employment again.
  • Of course, you need specialist knowledge and suitable skills to carry out your self-employed activity. This knowledge or ability must be explained to the Federal Employment Agency and, if necessary, proven. If there is any doubt as to whether you have the necessary knowledge and skills,
    it may be that that you will be required by the Federal Employment Agency to attend seminars.
    By attending the seminar(s), you can then prove that you have acquired the required knowledge or skills, at the latest through those seminar(s).
    This would remove any doubts and bring you a little closer to the approval of the start-up grant, i.e. your goal.
  • When you start your self-employment (=date), your entitlement to unemployment benefit (ALG I) is less than 150 days or your entitlement to ALG I is based solely on Section 147 (3) of the Third Book of the Social Code (SGB III), the so-called "short" qualifying period.

12. where to get the application for start-up grant?

You would like to apply for the start-up grant and are looking for the application? You can obtain your personalized application including alall documents from the Federal Employment Agency. The application then already contains your data deposited at the employment office, such as address, business reference number of the Federal Employment Agency, etc.

13. What is the amount of the start-up grant and for how long?

The start-up grant is paid in up to two phases, which means for you:

1st phase:

You will initially receive the start-up grant for 6 months. During this time, the amount of the start-up grant will be:

  • The amount of your last received unemployment benefit (Alg I) plus a lump sum of 300€.
  • This lump sum of 300€ is mainly for your social security (health insurance, etc.).
  • Would you like to receive start-up subsidy beyond these 6 months (1st phase)?
    Then you have to apply for it at the Federal Employment Agency.

2nd phase:

You have submitted your application to continue receiving the start-up subsidy. For the time after the first 6 months, you may be able to receive start-up subsidy for another 9 months at the flat rate of 300€.


  • There is no obligation for the Federal Employment Agency to grant you this start-up subsidy.
  • For the further payment of the start-up grant, the employment office will inquire from you,
    a) about your entrepreneurial activities of the previous months
    b) about your plans for the future of your business.

You can prove that you have intensively pursued your full-time self-employed activity, for example, by illustrating your income and expenses.

14. further information on the start-up grant:

Effect on the duration of unemployment benefit (ALG I):
If a start-up grant is paid in the amount of the unemployment benefit you last received, this will affect the duration of your entitlement to unemployment benefits (ALG I). You will receive more information during a free initial consultation at the X-GROUP Institute in Berlin. You will receive more information during a free initial consultation at the X-GROUP Institute in Berlin.

ssibility of unemployment insurance, upon application:
Self-employed persons have the possibility to be insured in the unemployment insurance upon application. If you would like to make this application, you will receive more information during a free initial consultation at the X-GROUP Institute in Berlin.

Start of retirement and consequence for the start-up grant:
If you reach retirement age while receiving the start-up grant, the payment of the start-up grant will be stopped. For the month in which you have your birthday, the start-up grant will still be paid, but for the following month it will no longer be paid.

15. When is it excluded that you can receive start-up allowance?

  • If you receive unemployment benefit II ("Hartz4"), you may be eligible for start-up allowance. If you receive unemployment benefit II ("Hartz4"), you may be eligible for start-up allowance. For more information, please contact your local job center or arrange a free initial consultation with the X-GROUP Institute.
  • Have you received any support in the last 24 months?
    Überbrückungsgeld (bridging allowance), Existenzgründungszuschuss (business start-up subsidy) or received a Gründungszuschuss (start-up subsidy) to take up self-employment?
    If yes, the start-up subsidy is only possible after the end of the last subsidy at least 24 months ago.

16. can the start-up grant be combined with the introductory allowance and LES?

If you receive unemployment benefit II ("Hartz4"), because the ALG I - rate is too low and can therefore be topped up with ALG II, then you can also apply for Einstiegsgeld and LES.

How this works and how to apply for it correctly in parallel, you will learn personally in a free initial meeting with us.

17. Can you receive other subsidies or other support for your company in addition to the start-up subsidy?

Whether and which subsidies or support you can still receive, you will find out in a free initial consultation with experienced entrepreneurs and competent consultants. We will be happy to help you apply for the start-up grant.

18. your next step? - Get into business!

Secure your voucher now and arrange a free strategy meeting with one of our start-up experts:

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a.hausmannApplying for a start-up grant – moving from the employment office to self-employment