Every year, about 40,000 new companies are founded in Switzerland. Most of them are not innovative start-ups, but rather tax advisors, service providers or tradespeople. All of them must follow the same steps in order to realise their dream of owning their own company and shaping their professional future in a self-determined manner.

The canton with the most new companies is Zurich (7820), followed by Vaud (4390) and Geneva (3720). Even among cities, Zurich is well ahead – especially for founding start-ups.

1. The business idea

Each new company starts with a business idea. Above all, this idea must be one thing: competitive. The business idea forms the basis for all of the next steps. So take some time and work out the idea carefully so you can formulate the next steps and implement them. You should also use your personal circle to test out your business idea. This may give you some valuable tips that you otherwise would not have thought of.

2. The solid business plan

Once you have the business idea, you can proceed with the business plan. This is the cornerstone of your company and may even prevent it from failing. The business plan includes the strategy, the market situation, the planned measures and the financial requirements. Take time to put your business plan together and try to analyse and describe each point in as much detail as possible. The business plan is not a guarantee that your company will succeed, but especially during the initial phase it will help you gain a good overview and present your idea to investors.

In terms of sectors, management and tax consulting (3970), trades (3560) and corporate services (3410) are especially popular as start-ups.

3. The right financing

Most founders only have limited financial capital, so financing should be well thought-out. There are various financing options. The one you choose depends on your equity capital, your risk tolerance and the amount you plan to invest.

Financing options: 

  • equity capital (e.g. savings, securities or withdrawing funds from your occupational or private pension provisions)
  • debt capital (e.g. a loan or credit from a bank)
  • investors (e.g. so-called business angels)

4. The right infrastructure

The choice of the right infrastructure should not be underestimated. Your business idea may be good, but if your customers can’t find it or if they lose time because of complicated processes, that won’t be enough. So think carefully about the infrastructure you need. A shop or an office? Parking spaces for customers or good public transport and motorway connections or a central location in the middle of the city? Technical equipment (internet, computers, printers and servers) and fittings must also be well thought out, as both of these will affect daily business efficiency.

5. The choice of legal form

Founding a company also includes choosing the right legal form. Note that depending on the legal form, liability, allowances and unemployment benefits are regulated differently. A good overview can be found at ifj.ch.

The four most common legal forms: 

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • LLC
  • Ltd. 

6. Pension provisions and risk insurance

Not everyone thinks about the statutory requirements when taking the step towards self-employment, but they are important for your financial future. Without risk insurance, one accident or illness can mean the end of your company. What your employer had previously taken care of is now your responsibility. And not only for yourself, but also for your employees. Some insurance is – depending on the chosen business form and sector – compulsory, while other insurance may be helpful for you.

The most important types of insurance are:

  • Legal protection
  • Disability insurance
  • Professional and business liability
  • Term life insurance
  • First pillar (AHV/IV and ALV)
  • Occupational provisions (BVG)
  • Accident insurance (UVG)
  • Short-term disability benefit insurance

Swiss Life risk check

With the Swiss Life risk check, you can check whether you have any gaps in your future provisions. Thought of everything? Then you’re on your way to a self-determined future as a company founder!

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