How to get started in Germany #16

How to get started in Germany with Burkhard Schneider | Basch Consult #16

Germany is without doubt the most successful economy in Europe, and it’s on the must-expand-to list of every ambitious business leader. UK companies in particular, faced with the uncertainties of Brexit, are rushing to establish bases in the EU, and Germany is a particular favourite.  However, it’s not the same and not as easy as starting a business in the UK. Business methodologies, labour and contract laws are all very different, but nobody should be put off. It’s just essential to get clued-up early on, and to have a guide who’ll help make sure that you’re doing everything right and make the difficult things easy.

In this podcast, Oliver Dowson talks to Burkhard Schneider, the Executive Director of Basch Consult. Oliver met up with Burkhard in London recently and recorded their conversation about how he helps businesses set up in Germany.


Click here to read the article: Get it right when starting in Germany

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OLIVER: I’m with Burkhard Schneider, the Executive Director of Basch Consult from Germany. Burkhard – welcome to our podcast. Tell me what it is you do.

BURKHARD: Well we are a consulting company based in Berlin, Germany and we support foreign SME’s to get business started in Germany or to develop their business. We do it nationwide and we do it across all industries.

OLIVER: And what sort of companies are particularly interested in coming to Germany at the moment?

BURKHARD: If a company is considering to start business in Germany, they can gather most of the information. My assumption is that they can find at least 90 percent before they come through the internet or by going to certain organisations. But then, once they have all that information, they have to decide how we are going to put it into place and how they are going to do it. They have the option of either they do it themselves or they work with us. If they do it themselves, it requires resources, financial resources, manpower etc.

OLIVER: Absolutely, and also knowing their way around the bureaucratic hurdles and all those things.

BURKHARD: Very important. If you assume that someone, for example, with that strong accent is calling a medium sized company in Germany in order to get an appointment, his chances are not high.

OLIVER: Absolutely, I can attest to that from my personal experience. So even though German companies have happily tolerated me a lot of times, I think toleration might be the word for it.

BURKHARD: Yes, absolutely, and that’s the experience of the majority of our clients. We also organise appointments and most want to go immediately to potential customers, but these customers receive calls like this every day. So, how they need to learn how to get past the switchboard, for example.

OLIVER: Absolutely, that’s a very special skill I think in every country, or certainly in every language. It’s very easy for us lazy Brits not to have to learn German, but on the other hand, being able to survive in English is one thing, being able to actually be successful with no other language is another.

BURKHARD: Yes, English is the world’s language. You are lucky, but it applies for any country. I would never set up an operation in the UK, or any other other place in the world, without local support. It’s simply like the saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

OLIVER: At the moment I’m meeting companies who are now panicking because of Brexit. Of course we have no idea what’s happening here, we still have no idea, even with an agreement – an agreement that’s still not an agreement as of today – so many British companies have looked and are wanting to set up somewhere in Europe to have a European hub. Many are particularly interested in Germany. What specific advantages does Germany bring?

BURKHARD: Well Germany is the largest single market within the EU. The economy, at least at present, is in good shape, and the majority of our clients are convinced, if they make it in Germany they have good chances to make it also in other EU countries, and in addition, the infrastructure in Germany is rather good. This means airport, highways, train etc. We are very open to international trade which doesn’t apply to every country around the world. So, these are really arguments for Germany.

OLIVER: And 8n terms of being a hub in Europe, obviously you have got the benefits of being able to service Austria and Switzerland, more or less seamlessly.

BURKHARD: Yes because, once our clients have translated their documentation in to German, they can also use it in Austria and the German speaking part of Switzerland.

OLIVER: OK, so if you wanted to set up a company in Germany at the moment, how long would you typically think it would take? How much bureaucratic hassle is it?

BURKHARD: It very much depends on the following issues. One is how decided the client already is. Very often the client has the idea that he wants to do it, but then he learns more and more about what he’s planning to do, and he needs time to evaluate and to make up his mind. In addition, it depends in particular on what type of company he wants. But my guess, if the client is moving quickly, I would say to set up a company somewhere between four to eight weeks.

OLIVER: That sounds pretty good in terms of speed. Your group, your company can manage basically all of the legal and bureaucratic paperwork necessary to do that?

BURKHARD: In Germany, only lawyers are entitled to give legal advice, and only tax consultants are entitled to give tax advice. We are not lawyers and we are not tax consultants, but we can arrange everything. “Everything” means from our point of view the legal part is the easier part. Everybody should have a close look at what is coming to him once he has the company. There are certain obligations, and from our point of view, this is the more complicated part. This is where he can earn or lose money. This is where he can save or lose time. In specifics, for example, he needs bookkeeping, so he needs a registered address. He needs a trade registration and some more, and we arrange all this for our client and it all happens in one day. He has to come for a notary appointment, and after that we arrange the other appointments in the afternoon so he can go home if he wants.

OLIVER: OK, that sounds really positive. Thank you so much Burkhard. I really appreciate talking to you.

BURKHARD: Thank you very much.

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