Fewer start-ups in 2020 – but not in all sectors

The effects of Corona pandemic measures shaped the year 2020. Both restrictions in private life and measures for companies, such as the obligation to work from home, were the dominant topics of the last 12 months. The drastic changes in public life also left their mark on the start-up scene. In 2020, the Institute for SME Research recorded around 9.7% fewer start-ups than in the previous year.

This trend is not only driven by the corona pandemic. A steady decrease in business start-ups in Germany has already been observed in previous years. However, it can be said that the trend towards self-employment has increased significantly in the course of the pandemic. While in a comparison of 2019 to 2018 a decline in start-ups of only 0.2% was documented in a year-on-year comparison of 2018 to 2017 of around -3.6%, the decline in the past year was much greater. A direct connection with the effects of the pandemic can therefore be assumed.

However are Not all sectors are equally affected. It can be seen that start-ups in the liberal professions decreased significantly less (-5.6%) than start-ups in the commercial sector (-11.7%). This development also continues a long-term trend. A shift in the structure of the areas of activity in favor of non-commercial activities has been noticeable for several years. The structural change to an economy with knowledge-based services thus continues. Even the market restrictions caused by the pandemic were unable to stop this development.

Even if start-ups in commercial sectors have fallen more sharply than in other areas, there are also sectors that are changing opposite to the trend have developed. The number of start-ups in the areas of agriculture, forestry and fisheries increased significantly by 8.4% last year. There was also a clear increase in start-ups in the health and social services sector, while start-up activity in the construction industry, for example, fell significantly.

Another positive effect can be seen in the proportion of start-ups by women determine. The number of start-ups by women has increased both in the area of ​​freelance work and in the commercial environment. While the proportion in the liberal professions rose only slightly from 52.6% in 2019 to 52.8% in 2020, the rate in commercial start-ups increased much more strongly from 29.4% to 30.7%.

So it can be stated that above all economic uncertainties have gained a clear influence on the topic of starting a business in Germany in the course of the pandemic. While these worries had become less and less relevant in previous years, they now represent a clear barrier to entry again. Capital-intensive projects in particular have been postponed or are no longer pursued at all. Opportunity start-ups (definition: company start-ups to take advantage of an attractive business opportunity) are particularly affected. Emergency start-ups, on the other hand, are less affected by this development. Emergency start-ups describe start-up projects that are implemented if there is no better alternative for the potential founder, for example a new employment relationship.

At the same time arise from the pandemic also significant opportunities. The trend towards innovative, growth-oriented and above all digital start-ups is unbroken. For example, the following are for this arguments to list:

  • Change of complete markets
  • New requirements for workplace design
  • Changed requirements for addressing customers, e.g. B. through online marketing (marketing strategy)
  • Contact restrictions that must be observed at all times

The sometimes urgent need for Realignment of the product portfolio also offers enormous opportunities for new products and services and thus enables young companies to establish themselves quickly and at the same time sustainably on the market. While such start-ups in the past were often initially realized as a part-time job due to various entry barriers, the proportion of full-time start-ups is catching up.

is to be held In other words, that the corona pandemic and its effects on all areas of life represent an enormous social and economic challenge, but that there are also opportunities for founders. Some industries are less affected by the restrictions or need new products and services precisely because of the changed situation. This offers founders the opportunity to open up new markets and establish themselves quickly. A fundamental shift towards the increased use of digital services is also to be expected, which will also offer great opportunities for business founders in the long term.

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