Should I open a painting business?

Avoid compulsory mastery: To self-employment even without a master’s title

Anyone who wants to be self-employed as a painter must meet the requirements of the trade. First of all, this means compulsory mastery. But the dream of running your own business doesn't have to fail due to the lack of a championship title. In this article, painters and those interested in related craft areas learn how they can set up their own business without a master craftsman's certificate.

The master's title makes founding easier, but is not absolutely necessary

Self-employed painters need a permit for their trade, which means that the profession requires a permit and the master's title is required. If you want to start your own business, you have to take the master's school and your exam again after the apprenticeship years. Exactly this master craftsman's duty has repeatedly sparked discussions in recent years. The chambers of crafts want to stick to their traditional regulation to ensure the quality of the work. The craft associations, on the other hand, are calling for the old regulations to be relaxed so that the market can open up. The following arguments are relevant:

  • Training at the master school is time-consuming and costly. Not everyone can afford to visit, especially when there is a family to look after.
  • The compulsion to become a master creates unnecessarily high hurdles on the way to independence.
  • If the rules remain so rigid, the diversity of the painting trade suffers.
  • Qualification is not only acquired through the master school, professional experience also brings expertise in the painting trade.

Since 2004 it has been possible to circumvent the compulsory master craftsman's work through special regulations and to dare to take the step into self-employment. In addition to the necessary approval, this also requires precise planning, because especially in the hot start-up phase it is not easy to keep an overview so that your own company can go on the road to success.

Hire a foreman as operations manager

There is neither a legal regulation nor a requirement of the Chamber of Crafts that the master must be the owner of the painting business. It is sufficient if the entrepreneur hires a master painter who is responsible for supervising the work and who thus ensures compliance with the required quality standards. However, anyone who thinks that they can only hire the master painter pro forma is entering dangerous territory. Because the Chamber of Crafts checks whether the technical management of the company is actually subordinate to the master. The operations manager's declaration and the master’s employment contract are required. If responsibilities, areas of responsibility and realistic working hours are not clearly defined, the Chamber of Crafts can assume a sham employment relationship. Employing the master on a mini job and only a few hours a week therefore does not work. On the other hand, it is not a problem to employ a foreman who runs a business himself in the correct form. Even a retired master craftsman can sign the employment contract as a works manager

Benefit from the old journeyman regulation

If no operations manager can be found or if this option is out of the question for financial reasons, the establishment can also take place through an exercise authorization. The vernacular speaks here of the so-called old journeyman regulation. The right to exercise according to Section 7b of the Law on the Order of the Crafts can be granted if the applicant is a trained painter with a journeyman's certificate and can provide evidence of six years of professional experience as an employee. The journeyman painter must have held a managerial position for four years. Evidence can be provided via the employment contract or old job references. The Chamber of Crafts also wants to be convinced that the old journeyman has the necessary background knowledge about founding and running a business. Business, legal and commercial knowledge that goes beyond basic knowledge is mandatory. It must be clear to applicants that without a master craftsman's certificate, approval for business reasons is an exception by the Chamber of Crafts. Founders are often obliged to take part in additional courses and seminars in order to prove their knowledge. However, if you are sure that you have the necessary qualifications and are not afraid of many, sometimes lengthy formalities, you can definitely dare to take the step as a painter into independent entrepreneurship. EU citizens can also benefit from the old journeyman regulation. One of these points must apply:

  • Running your own business for at least six years
  • Activity as a manager for at least six years
  • Apprenticeship of at least three years and then three years of running your own company or working as a manager
  • Training period of three years and then at least five years of managerial activity in the craft
  • Five years of employment in the craft plus three years of running my own craft business

Received an exemption from the Chamber of Crafts

Another option, which is also associated with a high level of bureaucratic effort, is the use of the special regulation according to § 8 of the Law on the Order of Crafts. This regulation is also referred to as the "Leipzig Resolutions". According to this special regulation, painters without a master craftsman's certificate can apply for approval if they can prove that they have knowledge of their profession and want to limit their professional activity to simple painting services. The approval can also be granted if the master craftsman training and taking the exam appear unreasonable for the applicant. That would be the case with extremely long waiting periods for the master craftsman's examination, with existing or threatened unemployment or for health reasons. Painters who can prove that they can take over an existing business at short notice have the opportunity to make use of this regulation. An advanced age of 47 and over also allows you to open a painting business without a master's degree. However, the chambers of crafts are hesitant to issue special permits. Often a successful passing of a so-called proficiency test is required in addition to meaningful documents. Since the application process can be associated with some costs, your own requirements must be carefully checked. However, if the conditions are met and the Chamber of Crafts still refuses approval, there is the option of taking legal action.

Carefully prepare the establishment of your own painting business without a master's degree

The Chamber of Crafts did not insist on the master craftsman's obligation and granted the approval? Then the actual start-up phase can begin. In addition to some financial considerations, the decision on a legal form is fundamental. While a GmbH requires a certain amount of start-up capital, the UG can be founded as a "small GmbH" with very little money. In addition, a painter can also work as a sole trader or choose another legal form in the craft. The selection should be made carefully, as there are large differences in taxes and duties. In addition, further permits such as business registration or entry in the commercial register are required. One point of contact where there is compact initial information for founders in the craft is the relevant chamber of crafts.