Can an industrial engineer own a company

Become an entrepreneur with the right degree

Benjamin Aunkofer ( works as an industrial engineer and software developer in a generalist way and deals with projects in cooperation with industry, and above all with innovative business ideas.

Some pupils noticed early on that there was a little more independence (taken quite literally!) In him than in his classmates.

The first marbles were sold in the schoolyard and sometimes shone in class with unusual problem solutions, sometimes met with horror.

Students with the regular urge to be pioneers - Such students could be the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow, but they are often not yet fully aware of it.

What I want to become? Entrepreneur!


Some pupils noticed early on that there was a little more independence (taken quite literally!) In him than in his classmates. The first marbles were sold in the schoolyard and sometimes shone in class with unusual problem solutions, sometimes met with horror. Students with the regular urge to be pioneers - Such students could be the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow, but they are often not yet fully aware of it.

The school is not a place for entrepreneurship, because the students tend to be taught: “Make an effort, then you will get a good job at a company”.

Thinking about self-employment as a student is disturbing for many teachers. So it's no wonder that for many students entrepreneurship continues right through to high school graduation A book with seven seals remains.

The few high school graduates who could well imagine self-employment mostly have entrepreneurs in their immediate family. This country needs entrepreneurs, because entrepreneurs create progress, taxable added value and jobs.

The motto “create jobs instead of just claiming them” doesn't seem to be a common goal in this society. Entrepreneurship fits in well with many of the wishes of students and graduates: independence, free time management, freedom of design and openness to any business opportunity without being tied to a specific job description.

Linked to this, of course, are the challenges of entrepreneurship. Independent thinking and acting as well as taking initiative and responsibility are essential for a start-up. Running a business successfully - even a small one - is not an easy task.

However, students and school leavers with a university entrance qualification can afford to pursue more unusual and, above all, ambitious goals. So why not? Entrepreneur become?

Which degree prepares the most for entrepreneurship?

The question is not easy to solve across the board, it depends too much on the planned project.

Projects are, for example, the establishment of an engineering office, a law firm or acting as a freelance artist.

These projects fall under the term independence, but do not make a full-fledged one on their own Entrepreneurship out.

What does entrepreneurship mean?

Entrepreneurship means identifying market niches / niches from them Business ideas develop and formulate business plans. However, entrepreneurs also have to implement these plans, which usually starts with a large amount of work of their own and later shifts to workload for personnel management.

A start-up business (everyone starts small) is on shaky feet and usually cannot afford to make big leaps. Entrepreneurs have to be all-rounders, at least to a certain extent, which is also reflected in the fact that many entrepreneurs have successfully founded not just one, but many different companies (but not at the same time).

In addition to the core business, an entrepreneur also has to hold talks with customers and convince investors. The marketing has to be designed and the bookkeeping done. Internal accounting to identify the potential of internal processes is also important.

An entrepreneur must therefore be familiar with many subject areas or at least have a good basic knowledge of these, so the necessary specialist knowledge for the core business is not even mentioned.

Specialism vs generalism

It is certainly not a wrong approach to study languages ​​if the goal is to set up a translation service or to study art in order to later open an art gallery. If you have a fixed plan for a company, it will not be difficult to find the right professional training for your project and to be targeted specialize to be able to.

In the case of humanities / natural sciences / engineering courses, however, a bit of business administration (accounting, marketing, corporate management, etc.) should be taken, because no entrepreneur can survive long without commercial knowledge.

Certainly partners can be found who can compensate for commercial or technical deficits. But as an entrepreneur you manage the company and should be able to know about all processes and interfaces as far as possible, because partners and staff can always leave you. Especially when you are working towards a known goal, it makes sense to use the time and acquire the knowledge you need to run a company.

Basic business knowledge

But what is advisable if it is not yet clear what kind of company should be founded?

Then self-employment is initially more of a guiding goal, which should first be formulated with appropriate training and experience.

Now which course is ideal for such undecided people?

As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs need to be familiar with pretty much anything. At least basic knowledge of marketing, distribution, accounting, Controlling, Human Resources Management are necessary and then there are the necessary Expertisethat are necessary for the core business. However, the necessary specialist knowledge can only be defined with the not yet known business idea.

A study with if possible generalist approach and business issues is very beneficial as preparation for entrepreneurship.

A generalist approach is used, for example, when studying for Industrial engineer commanded. Here, more than just basic knowledge of business administration and corporate management is imparted, with additional teaching of the basics of mathematics, technology and natural science.

A specialty of the course are the integration subjects, which combine economic and technical knowledge in a targeted manner, for example in production, factory planning, work and product design.

In industrial engineering, everything revolves around technical ideas, their implementation and marketing - exactly the right thing for entrepreneurs.

The study of industrial engineering has existed in Germany since 1926 and has been very successful ever since. Even if you should abandon your original plans to set up a business, ideal career opportunities are open to you as an industrial engineer.

Of course, a degree in industrial engineering is only recommended if there is a real interest in the course, but since the associated range of topics is broad, this should not be difficult. You can read about the subject areas of industrial engineering at

The business Informatics. The knowledge of software development, networks and eCommerce mastered by business informatics as well as the targeted knowledge of corporate management, marketing and project management offer a basis with a lot of potential for entrepreneurship.

Other related courses that do not get lost in deep details but focus on broad knowledge are, for example:

  • Business mathematics - particularly interesting for financial services
  • Economic physics - very similar to industrial engineering, besides business administration focus on physics, mathematics and computer science
  • Business Chemistry - deals with the development and marketing of chemical products and the associated business management
  • Business communication - an entrepreneurial alternative for setting up agencies, the media economy, strong focus on creativity, corporate management and marketing

Studying pure business administration is a classic route for people who also want to keep their entrepreneurship open. Business administration alone usually actually enables a company to be run, but there is a lack of understanding of technology and natural science. In addition, business administration at universities is often very much tailored to management positions in corporations and therefore easily overshoots the target for entrepreneurship. A good foundation of business knowledge should be sufficient for starting a company.

Industrial engineers and derivative courses already have this foundation and also offer a pool of ideas from a large amount of engineering / scientific knowledge that is so beneficial for the development of innovative business ideas.

Which universities support students in becoming self-employed?

The problem here is that the tendency towards imparting perspectives from dependent employment continues at many universities - especially at universities of applied sciences. Overall, there are complaints that the climate at German universities is unfriendly to entrepreneurs.

Whether this rethinking comes about also depends on the students and their demands, because universities want to be competitive and always strive for a high reputation.

When looking for founder-friendly universities, it is worth working through the points on the following checklist:

  • Module plans - Each course has a (usually public) module plan that shows the course content. Designations and formulations usually show unmistakably whether a degree is geared towards a position in research or in a department of a group or towards innovative corporate management.
  • Incubator - Almost every university has its own start-up center, but how well is it equipped and how seriously does it perform its tasks? Most of the time, a look at the start-up center's website and a phone call with it is enough to get information about the services and assistance that can be expected. You can set high standards here: A good start-up center provides at least affordable offices as well as help with drawing up a business plan and applying for funding (for example for the EXIST start-up grant).
  • Additional courses - The range of additional courses and access to discounted courses with certificates differs considerably from university to university and is often a tough selection criterion for a student with a planned start-up project.
  • Location - The name of the university should be less important, but the location is all the more important. It goes without saying that large cities offer most founders more potential for investors, partners and customers than small cities with poorer infrastructure.

Incidentally, the Handelsblatt and other magazines regularly report on entrepreneurship at German universities.

Are you interested in publishing a guest article here on “Self-employed in the Net”? Then just send an email with a brief introduction and article ideas to [email protected]

Free newsletter with tips, examples, insights ...

«Previous articleNext article»