Ha ha. A mini company. Where the heck does this miniature approach come from?
The UG was introduced into German law on November 1, 2008. As a rule, Germans do not immediately accept new concepts... The concept of the Mini-GmbH results from the strong competition of the UK Ltd, which needs only one pound sterling to be exempted from private liability. Many Germans, however, wanted to have a limited liability, but could not afford to set the "high amount" of 25 k€. Although absolutely legal, a UK Limited in Germany caused lawyers and judges enormous headaches in deciding which law would be applicable when and for what. The Ltd is a British company incorporated under British law and its branch office operates in a foreign jurisdiction. Concerns revolved around debtor protection and the reputation of the Ltd.
What's the image of UG in daily business? I heard it be awful! Is it really that bad? What is so awful about a UG?
Non-entrepreneurs are not very familiar with this form of company. Only when you say "Mini-GmbH" will they have an idea. Acceptance otherwise depends on your industry and the risk involved. If your company is a business that will make a six-figure profit per annum, you should choose a GmbH directly when deciding whether or not it is a UG. Otherwise you will only lose face! Conservative Germans will frown upon you: "They are so broke that they can't come up with a serious contribution (of 25 k€)!" or "They want to make six-digit profits but only 1 €, that can't be a serious business". If your company is heavily dependent on suppliers, it may be best to have a GmbH. If you are a freelancer and want to appear larger, then the UG is perfect and your company can grow into a business.
The UG is ideal for attracting investors! While you prove your success with your first sales, you earn your first money while looking for a venture capitalist. So what is the bottom line with an UG? You have a legal structure that is suitable for small to medium sized companies. Make sure that your letterhead correctly refers to your company! It is important to add the legal phrase "(limited liability)".
When better to form a GmbH and not a UG?
Not only the money itself is a major difference in both kinds of companies. It also has to do with the company's acceptance in the market. If your company is dependant on a standing credit line for deliveries, chances are high you will not get one. Why? Conservative / anxious Germans will think around "A UG is an advertising pillar topped with a red alarm light reading "I have no money!" If you have the capital for a GmbH but only found a UG (for cost reasons) and want to play with the big boys in business, you will loose your face "They want to play big but are not able to put down a real contribution for their company? We can't take them for serious.
You're always so negative about a UG; isn't there something good about a UG? When is a UG the right legal form for a business?
Sure, a UG is something good. However, if you are startup hunting for an risk capitalist, this approach will be fine! Why? You can prove with first turnover that your business idea is wanted on the market. You will already have a vehicle to invest in.
What's the financial difference of a UG to a GmbH?
The shareholders of a UG are restricted in using the annual profit. They must put 25% of the profit into a reserve fund and this fund is to save money in order to step up to fully fledged GmbH.
Huh? fully fledged GmbH? What do mean? Is a UG not a legal corporate form and am I doing something wrong?
Relax! You are fine. In the understanding of the lawmaker, a UG is little girl that is to grow up to an adult GmbH.