Handbook for Entrepreneurs

Page 1

4TH EDITION with new contents


EDITORIAL DARE TO TRY (AND KEEP TRYING) by Frédéric Bagnoud, General Secretary of The Ark Foundation

Every year in Switzerland, nearly 45,000 new businesses are created by people who dare to take the plunge and try turning their ideas into a business. These budding entrepreneurs are ready for a unique adventure that will push them out of their comfort zone and beyond their imagined limits. “I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."This quote from Steve Jobs ably illustrates the challenge that awaits future entrepreneurs. The adventure of entrepreneurship is a winding road, strewn with obstacles and frustrations, where hard work and perseverance are essential ingredients to success. Being an entrepreneur allows you to set your own goals, with the freedom and independence that comes with it. It is also an opportunity to make your dreams come true and build, over time, a business in line with your own values and vision of the world. Since its creation in 2004, The Ark, the Foundation for Innovation in Valais, has been here to help entrepreneurs – both newcomers and seasoned professionals – achieve those goals. Through its incubator, it offers comprehensive services to innovative entrepreneurs in the technology sector. This handbook aims to give you some practical advice on entrepreneurship. And who knows? It may also convince you to take the plunge into the demanding, but exciting, adventure of entrepreneurship!

SOMMAIRE INTRODUCTION Building a business from your idea Interview with Sébastien Mabillard BUSINESS PLAN Structuring your business plan BUSINESS MODEL Contents LEGAL FORM Main differences Legal steps ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS Compulsory social insurance Additional insurance Employment contract Invoicing FINANCIAL ASPECTS Finding finance Crowdfunding Tokenisation Example of capital use Taxation INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Your right to your ideas COMMUNICATION STRATEGY Traditional marketing Digital marketing Social media Design thinking TAKING IT FURTHER Time management 10 good reasons to create your start-up Entrepreneurial tools FIND OUT MORE Contact us

6 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 18 22 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 32 34 36 38 39 42 43 44 45 50 52 53 55 56 58 58


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

INTRODUCTION Every business start-up necessarily begins with an idea. At the same time, not every idea leads to a business!

A business creation project is built upon the relevance of the original idea. Like any structure, it needs solid foundations. The first phases of validating the business concept are essential. They will ensure the project is firmly rooted in its context and built to last.

BUILDING A BUSINESS FROM YOUR IDEA VALIDATING THE INITIAL IDEA Unfortunately, this reflection phase is often neglected by new entrepreneurs, who launch themselves headlong into the operational creation of their business. However, it is essential to spend time validating the idea before committing personally and financially to a business plan.

This structured reflection and questioning is provided by business coaching, particularly the type offered by a business incubator such as that of The Ark Foundation in Valais. Its goal is to help you follow the sometimes tortuous path that leads from the idea to the business.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022



The inventor or project owner often imagines that their idea can only be good. Unfortunately, their thinking and analysis are usually based on overly personal assumptions and do not take sufficient account of a crucial element: the market.

Any business idea presupposes that the potential product or service meets a specific need in the market. This product or service must necessarily bring added value to its users, something that can be promoted and sold to future customers. After having better identified the market’s needs and expectations, many project owners have to redefine their initial idea and adapt their offer. Very often, only the basic concept of the original idea will remain. The final product or service will have evolved. This evolution of the idea is simply the definition of the commercial offer – the translation of the target market’s expectations into a concrete product or service.

Often, the project owner has not checked the validity of their initial assumptions and, above all, has not properly analysed the market they want to address. It is essential that they build up a picture of the typical customer for their future product or service. The project owner must be prepared to dig deep to discover everything they can about their market: its size, potential, buying habits, reference points, choice criteria, etc. To do so, they must leave the office, get out into the field, and see what their typical customers think about their idea. This phase of validating the idea in the markets is crucial. It is tedious, time-consuming work, but it is indispensable.

The challenge is to be able to answer two essential questions:


If the market’s needs, habits and organisation have been perfectly understood and analysed in the initial phase, it will be easy to define a commercial offer.

The commercial offer can therefore be reduced to three questions, or rather, the answer to these three questions: • What are you going to sell? • To whom?

• Does your potential product or service meet a real need? • For how much? • Is there a market for it, in other words sufficient demand to make a business out of it?

This reflection and validation work must come first in any project launch. The preliminary market research can be enormously facilitated and accelerated with outside help focused on monitoring the market and information networks. It is a pragmatic contribution that usually consists of a preliminary qualitative investigation in the field, based on simply sounding out the market to get an impression, a "feeling”, rather than advanced statistics. Our start-up professionals help you to quickly ask the right questions, test your ideas and validate your business concept based on the needs observed in the target market.

It will include a definition of the product or service offered, highlighting the objective added value, a target customer and a monetary value.

A LONG JOURNEY It comes down to the fact that there is no point rushing into the technical development of a product or packaging a commercial offer without a detailed understanding of your market, its habits and its real needs. Only a response to a specific need can be monetised and have a business built around it. The journey from idea to business is a sometimes tortuous and difficult path, but you have to go through these phases of reflection and market analysis before embarking on the adventure of entrepreneurship. As a new entrepreneur, the better you understand your future customers, the better you can respond to their expectations and build a solid, lasting business.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

LAUNCH YOUR BUSINESS & ABOVE ALL TALK ABOUT IT! Interview with Sébastien Mabillard, head of The Ark Incubator

The Ark Foundation has been supporting innovative business start-ups for over 17 years now. The head of its start-up incubator, Sébastien Mabillard, has worked with many budding entrepreneurs and offers some advice for anyone wishing to launch their own business.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MAIN QUALITIES OF A GOOD ENTREPRENEUR? Becoming an entrepreneur means embarking on a new and exciting adventure that requires perseverance and an appetite for challenges above all. Every entrepreneur must know how to challenge themselves and communicate their enthusiasm to their team, their investors and their partners. The key is to be totally convinced of your idea, so that you can communicate it to all the people who, to a greater or lesser extent, will help you build your business.

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


AND WHAT IS AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET FOR YOU? It’s wanting to contribute something new, something that’s complementary to what already exists. To stand out from what’s been done so far and to have an innovative vision that challenges established practices. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs are not afraid of their ideas and dare to carry them through. In the end, only those who don’t try don’t succeed. HOW DO YOU SET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT WHEN CREATING A START-UP? It is important to surround yourself with the right people and to assemble the skills you need to develop your project. Support organisations such as The Ark Incubator can provide the boost you need to get your business off the ground. With its mission of supporting young entrepreneurs, The Ark Incubator has considerable expertise in coaching and helping start-up projects. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BECOME ENTREPRENEURS? Share your project with the people close to you and listen to suggestions and recommendations! It is when you share and exchange ideas that opportunities are created. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere: organisations like The Ark Incubator are there to help you turn your business ideas into reality!


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

BUSINESS PLAN Every business start-up necessarily begins with an idea. At the same time, not every idea leads to a business!

A business creation project is built upon the relevance of the original idea. Like any structure, it needs solid foundations. The first phases of validating the business concept are essential. They will ensure the project is firmly rooted in its context and built to last.

A business plan is based on facts, estimates and assumptions, so it is important to clarify what are facts and what are estimated figures and scenarios (20 to 40 pages, with the appendices, should be more than enough for a business plan).

When creating a business plan, think about constructing several scenarios: optimistic, realistic and worst-case.

Business Plan

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


STRUCTURING YOUR BUSINESS PLAN A business plan should cover the following topics: SUMMARY


Business idea, prospects, strategy, management, products, market, financial planning, risks and opportunities, an offer of capital participation where applicable

Summary of key figures: turnover, investment requirements, return on investment, etc. (with detailed figures in the appendices) MARKETING


Description of the general strategy, History of the project, legal form, capital followed by details of target markets structure and amount, management and and customer groups, public relations, operational team, management control, advertising, sales, distribution, product advisors mix, products, services and prices MANAGEMENT AND PERSONNEL


Organisational chart including the whole Deadlines, stepped targets team; the responsibilities, training and management experience of the APPENDICES key people; personnel planning and promotion Extract from the debt collection register; projected balance sheet and profit and loss account, and liquidity plan; copies MARKETS of credit and loan agreements, sureties, Market opportunities (potential and deposit account statements and property growth), customer structure and valuations. If available: market research; reference letters and certificates of segmentation, expected sales volume, employment; company brochures. competitive and market analysis


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


The business model is a summarised representation of how a project should generate income. The business plan is derived from the business model.

Business Model

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

The business model should answer the following three main questions:


• How will you make money from your idea? • Who will pay?


by Alexandre Osterwalder, co-author of Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers Quotes collected by Christophe Fischer (HEC Alumni Newsletter no. 79)

• For what?

It is important to approach the creation of a business with a business model mindset. As an entrepreneur, once you have your idea, you need to quickly identify potential sources of income. At this stage, it is not about being original at all costs. A lot of things have already been thought of and it is not always necessary to reinvent everything. The easier it is for your stakeholders (especially your investors) to understand your business model, the better. In fact, if your idea is innovative, you should explain it by making the connection with known and approved business models. It is also important to test your product against the market. And you need to be open and adapt quickly to market feedback so you can adjust your business model.

The business model should summarise information on the following: • Value propositions • Targeted customer segments • Distribution channels • Relationship to customers • Partner network to create these value propositions • Activities to be implemented to deliver your product/service • Cost structure • Revenue model

“In a way, the business model explains the company’s overall rationale. It explains what value the company creates (the offer), how it does it and for whom, and how it thinks it will make money. The business plan explains how the business model is implemented and by which management team. You need a good business model before you can write a business plan that specifies and develops implementation plans, milestones, financial projections and potential risks.”


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


A business can be created in one of several legal forms. The most common ones are: a sole proprietorship or one-person business, a limited liability company (GmbH/ Sàrl) and a limited company (AG/SA). The first of these has no legal personality, so there is no separation between the entrepreneur and their business. In the case of a limited liability company and a limited company, there is a complete separation between the entrepreneur's personal assets and liabilities, and those of the business.

Legal form

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022





Min. CHF 20,000 paid up in full

Min. CHF 100,000 20% of share capital must be paid up (a minimumof CHF 50,000)

Company shares (at least one share per partner) Min. value: CHF 100

Registered shares Min. value: 1 centime

No equity (other than the entrepreneur’s personal wealth)




One person

A minimum of one


Not necessary



Registration compulsory only if turnover exceeds CHF 100,000 per annum. Otherwise optional

Registration compulsory

Compulsory An ordinary audit if two of the following three criteria are met for two successive financial years: • Balance sheet total more than CHF 20 million • Turnover more than CHF 40 million • More than 250 employees


Not compulsory

An ordinary audit, which can also be requested by shareholders owning at least 10% of the capital stock, involves submitting a full report to the Board and reporting a summary of the audit results to the general meeting. Other businesses usually undergo a limited audit, which is restricted to scrutiny, a screening exercise and checking details. If all of the partners agree, small limited liability companies (fewer than 10 full-time employees) can waive the requirement for auditing.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Legal form



• A significant degree of freedom in how the business is managed

• Liability: the owner’s liability encompasses both the wealth of their business, and their own private wealth.

• A one-person business can – in theory at least – be set up without any capital. In reality, a minimum amount of capital will be required for start-up purposes.

• The owner's name is known (in contrast to a limited company).

• Taxation: there is no double taxation of profits, i.e. on both the income earned by the business and by the entrepreneur. • Start-up requirements: no formalities, few costs involved (unless registration in the Commercial Register is required). • Administrative costs: lower than for a limited liability company or a limited company.

• The owner does not enjoy complete freedom in choosing the company’s name: their own name must feature within it. • Strict debt recovery proceedings, involving forced realisation of the debtor’s entire assets (if the business is registered in the Commercial Register) • Social insurance: entrepreneurs with a sole proprietorship are classified as self-employed workers. They are largely responsible for making their own welfare arrangements.

From a legal standpoint, this form is recommended where just one natural person is running a business. Sole proprietorships are ideal for the liberal professions (architects, craftsmen, doctors, lawyers and local business enterprises).



• A relatively modest minimum amount of capital is required.

• Double taxation applies: both on the company’s profits and its share capital, and on the partner's own income and wealth.

• The company name can be freely chosen, but must be followed by the abbreviation "Sàrl" or"GmbH”. The company’s name can be protected. • Liability: limited to the amount of share capital

• Start-up requirements: start-up costs higher than for a sole proprietorship • The public can freely consult the make-up of corporate bodies, capital and shares in the Commercial Register.

• At least one founder is required. • Social welfare benefits: partners who are actively involved in the business can be classified as employees and thus insured.

•Management costs are higher than for a sole proprietorship: memoranda of understanding, partners’ meetings, tax forms, etc.

• Profits derived from sales of company shares are not taxable.

The GmbH/Sàrl format is particularly suitable for small to medium-sized enterprises closely linked to specific persons. The limited liability company is ideal for family businesses or companies whose financial backers play an active role in running the business.

Legal form

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022




• Shareholders’ liability is limited to the amount invested in the company’s share capital, unless they are found guilty of criminal conduct or negligence.

• Minimum capital (CHF 100,000) higher than for a limited liability company

• The shareholder structure is not disclosed in the Commercial Register. • Social welfare benefits: shareholders who are actively involved in the business are classified as employees and must be insured.

• Start-up requirements: numerous formalities, high costs • Double taxation applies: both on the company’s profits and its share capital, and on the shareholders' income (dividends) and wealth.

• The company name can be freely chosen, but it must be followed by the abbreviation "SA" or "AG”.

• Strict instructions apply to preparation of the company’s accounts: legal reserves, measures applicable if the company becomes insolvent, etc.

• The founder can increase the extent of their influence via shares with preferential voting rights, and restrictions on share transfers or share distributions.

• High management costs: memoranda of understanding, directors' reports, accounting requirements, general meetings, tax forms, auditors, etc.

• A limited company enjoys a more prestigious image than a limited liability company or sole proprietorship.

The limited company is a business typically associated with high capital requirements. As a result, this legal form is ideal for any profit-focused business.

OTHER FORMS OF COMPANY A company can also take a number of other legal forms: a simple partnership (this is an automatic requirement where there are several partners), a general partnership, an association, a foundation or a cooperative.

Useful links • National reference portal for setting up a company • Online portal for businesses • Swiss Code of Obligations

www.pme.admin.ch www.easygov.swiss www.admin.ch


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Legal form

LEGAL STEPS THE BASICS The following decisions and steps need to be taken before embarking on the formal process of creating your own company: • Determine your company’s object. • Choose the name of your business (company name). This can be freely chosen, except in the case of sole proprietorships, which must include their owner's name. • Choose an address (head office). • Determine the amount of capital, and the number of shares in the company. • Contact a bank and open a payment account in the name of the company being formed. The paid-up amount (entire capital or part of it) has to be paid into the account. • Think about logistics (telephone, internet connection). • Reserve the company’s internet domain name and the hosting service provider. • Determine the company's articles of association. • If applicable, register your trademark with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE/IPI). • Contact any board members (if you opt for a limited company) and the auditors. • Contact potential directors of your company (if you opt for a limited liability company)

Useful links • Setting up a company • Company name • Registering a trademark • Domain names

www.pme.admin.ch www.zefix.ch www.e-trademark.ige.ch Hosting provider ( Infomaniak or Switchplus )

Legal form

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

SETTING UP A COMPANY IN 9 STEPS (WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF A NOTARY) 1. Ask your bank to provide a certificate showing the amount available in the payment account (locked-up capital). 2. You and the other founders of the company will have to go to the notary’s office to attend your company’s incorporation meeting. If you are unable to visit the notary in person, you can grant power of attorney to a third party to represent you. If the future directors do not attend the meeting, they will have to sign a letter confirming their acceptance of the mandate granted to them. 3. Draft a shareholders’ agreement. 4. The notary will have drawn up a proposed set of articles of association, which will be discussed and tailored to suit your company’s needs. 5. At the incorporation meeting, the notary will read out the deed of incorporation. 6. The founders or their representatives will sign the deed and the other documents prepared by the notary (articles of association, application for registration in the Commercial Register, etc.). 7. The notary will send the company’s deed of incorporation, its articles of association and the other signed documents to the Commercial Register (see cost estimate). 8. The Commercial Register will then send the notary an extract confirming the company’s registration. 9. Once your company is registered in the Commercial Register, it will have a legal personality of its own, and will then be able to freely acquire rights and obligations.



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

COSTS OF REGISTRATION IN THE COMMERCIAL REGISTER The costs of registration in the Commercial Register depend on the legal form selected. This is what you should expect to pay (approximate amounts):

One-person business a minimum of CHF 120

Limited partnership or General partnership a minimum of CHF 240

Limited company (AG/SA) or Limited liability company (GmbH/Sàrl)* a minimum of CHF 600

Authority to sign CHF 30 per signature registered

Registering a position held CHF 20 per position registered

Drawing up an application for registration up to CHF 100

Preparing and authenticating documents proving registration up to CHF 120

Legal information and scrutiny of documentary evidence between CHF 100 and CHF 250

Once you have registered in the Commercial Register, you should expect to receive an invitation to register in a directory or other type of register. A payment slip for an amount of around CHF 700 will be appended to this invitation. This type of invitation is sent out primarily by two companies: SFIS Handels- und Wirtschaftspublikationen AG, 8023 Zurich, „Register für Handel und Industrie”, and GHI Invest AG, 6303 Zug, "Register für Gewerbe, Handel und Industrie“. In addition to costing a lot of money, including your company in a register of this kind is optional, and usually serves little purpose. You are therefore recommended not to do so.

* Where the capital stock, share capital or endowment capital of legal entities exceeds the sum of CHF 200,000, the basic emolument is increased by 0.2‰ of the capital tranche exceeding this amount; however, it cannot exceed the sum of CHF 10,000.

Legal form

Legal form

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022



Your company's articles of association must include a number of specific items of information, which are listed below. Please note that some of these articles only apply to creating a limited company.

Chapter 1 Company name, head office, term and object


A shareholders’ agreement is a contract, whose content is not fixed by law. Its purpose is to clarify the relationship between the various shareholders. It therefore supplements the company's articles of association. See below for the main themes forming part of a properly constituted shareholders’ agreement. • Names of the parties

• Preliminaries

Chapter 2 Capital stock (amount, registered shares, transfers, increases, new shares, etc.)

• Purposes of the contract (described in detail) • Contract term

Chapter 3 General meeting (notice of meeting, rights, voting right, etc.)

• Rules governing decision-making • Rules governing voting

Chapter 4 Board of Directors (for limited companies)

Chapter 5

• Rules governing restrictions on share ownership rights • Rules fixing the value of shares


• Rules establishing personal obligations

Chapter 6 Accounting rules and profits (legal reserves, dividends, etc.)

Chapter 7 Winding up and liquidating the company

• Rules granting preference to certain partners • Contractual penalties • Breach or termination of the agreement

Chapter 8 Publications and competent jurisdiction Date and signature ..............................................................

The Incubator service of The Ark Foundation can help technology start-ups in Valais to formalise their articles of association.

Please feel free to contact us:


• Final provisions • Place and date • Signature of all participants • Any appendices


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS The life of an entrepreneur is filled with the development of an idea, product, technology or service. But it also inevitably involves administrative work. The following pages summarise your main obligations in this area.

Administrative aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


COMPULSORY SOCIAL INSURANCE OLD-AGE AND SURVIVORS’ INSURANCE (AHV/AVS) DISABILITY INSURANCE (IV/AI) LOSS OF EARNINGS INSURANCE (EO/APG) The purpose of these three social insurance schemes is to guarantee a minimum standard of living for those entitled to them. All gainfully employed persons between the age of 17 and retirement age are insured. Your company must be affiliated with an AHV compensation office. In principle, you do not have to do anything. The AHV compensation office will contact you following your company’s publication in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC). However, the obligation to register rests with you, so you must ensure that this formality is carried out if no office contacts you. Please note that the compensation offices charge an administrative fee to cover costs. These fees vary from office to office. As an employer, you are responsible for paying all contributions (both the employer’s and the employee’s share) to the compensation office. The total rates deducted from wages are as follows:

Position as of 01.01.2021 *

• AHV 8,7 % • IV

1,4 %

• EO

0,5 %

• ALV 2.2 %

* The employee and the employer pay contributions in equal parts.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (ALV/AC) Anyone who is gainfully employed must contribute to the ALV. The purpose of the ALV is to ensure adequate compensation for loss of earnings caused by unemployment, the insolvency of the employer or a reduction in working hours. The basic contribution is 2.2% for wages up to CHF 148,200. A solidarity contribution of 1% is added for salaries above CHF 148,200 (as of 01.01.2021). The costs related to ALV are divided equally between employer and employee.

OCCUPATIONAL BENEFIT PLAN (BV/PP) Your company must be affiliated with a provident institution for the payment of BV contributions if you employ people who are subject to the BV. The purpose of the BV is to enable the elderly, the disabled and surviving relatives to maintain their standard of living in the event of old age, disability or death. In principle, the AHV compensation office to which your company is affiliated for the payment of AHV contributions must ensure that it is also affiliated to a provident institution. Every employee with an annual salary of more than CHF 21,510 must be insured by the employer. Part of the contributions covers the risk of death before retirement, and the other part goes into the pension fund. The contributions are at least equal (50% employee and 50% employer).


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Administrative aspects



You must take out accident insurance for your employees. The purpose is to guarantee insurance benefits in the event of accidents at work and outside of work. The insurance helps to cover medical costs and the temporary incapacity to work. It also provides for supplementary pensions in the event of disability as well as pensions for the spouse or child of a disabled person.

As a rule, employers are not obliged to insure their employees against the consequences of illness. However, employers may offer their employees private group insurance for loss of earnings in the event of illness.

In principle, non-occupational accident insurance (NBUV/ AANP) is paid for by the employee, whereas occupational accident insurance (BUV/AAP) and any other related contributions are paid for by the employer.

Employed women are entitled to 80% of their average salary for 14 weeks after the birth of their child. Payments under this insurance are included in the EO benefits.

Premiums vary depending on the insurance company and the risks (depending on age, profession, etc.). You therefore have free choice of an insurance company. Generally, insurance companies will contact you following publication in the SOGC. It is important to ask for offers and above all to compare them!


In addition, medical costs arising from pregnancy and childbirth are covered by health insurance.

The employer must report accidents and possible occupational diseases to the insurer immediately.

FAMILY ALLOWANCES (FZ/AF) As an entrepreneur, you must register with a private family allowance fund or with your interprofessional family allowance fund if the company has employees. The purpose of this insurance is to guarantee a contribution to parents to help them support their children. Employers are obliged to pay contributions as a percentage of their total payroll, even if their employees have no dependent children. The fund directly offsets the benefits due and received. The amount and form of the benefits vary from canton to canton. The minimum is CHF 200 per child per month. There are also vocational training allowances (from the age of 16 until the end of training, but no later than the age of 25). Some cantons also grant birth or adoption allowances.

In Valais, the family allowance is CHF 275 per child (CHF 375 from the third child). It reaches CHF 425 for young people in vocational training (CHF 525 from the third child). In addition, a birth or adoption allowance of CHF 2,000 is paid.

Administrative aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

ADDITIONAL INSURANCE Even if your company is well run, it is not immune to setbacks. It is therefore essential to ensure it can continue to function whatever happens. There are several optional insurance policies that businesses can take out to minimise risks and avoid jeopardising their economic activity.

Here are the main insurance schemes that might be of interest to you:

• Building insurance Fire, water damage, etc.

• Contents insurance Furniture, computer equipment, etc.

• Construction insurance In case of building or renovation works

• Vehicle insurance For the company’s fleet of vehicles

• Insurance for transport of goods or merchandise • Business interruption insurance In case of an unexpected event

• Public liability insurance Useful in the event of civil liability claims. This insurance can be taken out by the business or the entrepreneur

• Legal expenses insurance Covers the cost of legal advice or the legal costs involved in pursuing or defending a civil claim

CYBER INSURANCE This provides cover against cybercrime. The many risks that companies can face include data extortion, personal data breaches, loss of reputation and image, and loss of turnover. All these risks have a very high financial cost if the company suffers a cyber-attack. Many companies have been seriously weakened by their computer systems and website being hacked, and not having sufficient financial means to cover the related legal fees, loss of turnover and compensation for their customers.



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Administrative aspects

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT IMPORTANT Certain provisions in the Code of Obligations (CO) are mandatory. The employment contract cannot derogate from them. See particularly Articles 319 ff. The protection of workers is governed by the Swiss Federal Labour Act (ArG/LTr). This law establishes the minimum rules for the protection of the public interest and leaves it to the collective agreements to complete them. For example, it sets a general maximum working week of 45 hours.

GENERAL To develop its activities, your company will probably have to hire employees. Here are some important points to bear in mind when concluding an employment contract. Under the employment contract, the employee undertakes to work for the employer for a fixed or indefinite period. The employer promises to pay a salary. The employment contract is not subject to any special form: it can be concluded orally or in writing.

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT CONTENTS It is advisable to draw up a written contract to clearly define the rights and obligations of each party.

The contract should contain at least the following information: • Names of the parties (employer and employee) • Date of commencement of employment • Work to be provided • Salary to be paid in return • Take into account collective employment agreements

Provisions relating to the employment relationship may be contained in a document of a general nature (company rules, general conditions, etc.). However, in order for these provisions to apply, the employment contract must expressly refer to them.

Useful links CO and employment contract www.admin.ch Information portal of the Swiss authorities www.ch.ch

For matters not regulated by the employment contract (e.g. notice period, holiday entitlement, etc.), the provisions of the Code of Obligations (CO) (or of the collective agreement if one exists) apply.

Administrative aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

CREATING A CORRECT INVOICE You need to be ready to make money and to invoice products or services from the very start of a company’s activity. It is therefore important to set up an efficient and, above all, formally correct invoicing system. If an invoice does not meet the formal criteria, problems may arise with VAT and the Federal Tax Administration.

EXAMPLES OF CORRECT INVOICES WITH VAT Non-itemised invoice Total including VAT (7.7%) CHF 3,000

Your invoices must therefore contain at least the following:

Itemised invoice

• Name and address of your company. Service 1 CHF 3,400 • Your VAT number (if you are liable). Service 2 CHF 2,300 • Name and address of the recipient. The name of the person to whom the invoice is addressed usually comes after the company name.

Gross total (net of VAT) CHF 5,700 - 10 % discount CHF 570

• Delivery date (if not the same as the invoice date). Net total CHF 5,130 • Precise description of the good or service. VAT 7,7 % CHF 395 • Price (consideration) of the delivery or service. Total including VAT CHF 5,525 • VAT rate applied (e.g. "7.7% VAT extra”). The note "all taxes included" is not sufficient. • Also ensure that the payment slip is correct (via your bank). Indicating the IBAN can be useful when invoicing abroad. • Signature: invoices do not need to be signed to be valid as a legal instrument.



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


You need to find funds to launch your business, of course. Different sources of financing exist. The following pages give you some ideas to help you find the capital to start up.

Financial aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

FINDING FINANCE The entrepreneurs or business project owners should be able to provide as much equity as possible themselves. However, finding the funds to launch and develop your business is not always easy.




Example of a business in a technological field:






Development of business concept

10,000 to 20,000

2 to 6 *

Founders, 3Fs (Friends, Family, Fools)

Seed funding

Creating the business plan, looking for financing, setting up the group of founders, feasibility study

50,000 to 500,000

6 to 24

Founders, 3F, business angels, venture capital (in seed phase), banks with start-up financing activities


Product/service development, preparation for market entry

500,000 to 2,000,000

6 to 24

Business angels, co-investments, venture capital

Phase 1

Market entry

1,000,000 to 5,000,000

6 to 12

Venture capital

Phase 2

Scaling up products/ services

2,000,000 to 20,000,000

12 to 48

Venture capital

Phase 3

Market expansion

2,000,000 to 20,000,000

6 to 36

Venture capital

Bridging loan

Intermediary financing for the preparation of the IPO

2,000,000 to 20,000,000

6 to 36

Venture capital

* In the case of a technological development, you may have to invest for as much as three years before the technology is sufficiently mature for commercialisation. Source: START Unternehmenszentrum Zurich




Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Financial aspects

The federal government and the cantons provide only subsidiary financial support for companies. However, below are some possible sources of support in Valais:

CENTRE FOR SURETY BONDING AND FINANCING (CCF) www . ccf - valais . ch The CCF (centre for surety bonding and financing) offers the following financial assistance and services: • Capital investment in your company via seed funds, from the very start of your project. Maximum investment of CHF 50,000*, or CHF 100,000 for projects with exceptional potential. • Investment in the development of high-potential companies via a venture capital fund. • Support and/or local capital investments at various stages of your company’s development*. • Guarantees that make it easier to obtain bank loans or leases, as well as bank guarantees*.

THE ARK FOUNDATION www . the ark . ch The Foundation does not offer direct financing but supports companies through coaching and accommodation services. Through its business incubator, it also finances services provided by specialised partners (patents, law, communication, etc.).

The Ark Foundation can help your start-up or company set up Innosuisse projects or obtain its support.

• Subsidies for steps to improve competitiveness*. • Co-financing advice: financing part of the studies prior to an investment.

INNOSUISSE www . innosuisse . ch

• Assistance in financing participation in trade and/or technology fairs. Financing up to 50% of the costs.

Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, is affiliated to the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology. It provides customised support for start-ups and business creation projects through its Start-up Coaching/Training programme. This national organisation also supports companies involved in international co-operations and start-ups that wish to establish themselves internationally. Additionally, Innosuisse promotes science-based innovation projects that companies, mainly SMEs, carry out together with research partners. Finally, it supports networks and events in important innovation areas. Its mentors help companies to launch their projects.

* Minimum conditions to obtain support from the CCF: innovative project, significant turnover outside Valais, significant impact on employment.

Financial aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


FINANCING A COMPANY OR A PRODUCT VIA CROWDFUNDING How can you finance your company or product launch via crowdfunding platforms? Crowdfunding, also known as participatory financing, is a fast-growing source of financing. A five-step method will help you to raise funds effectively.

1. Define your project Before applying to a crowdfunding platform, it is important to be well prepared and to have a coherent, viable project ready to submit to the public. Most platforms require complete documentation on the project so they can check it thoroughly for an eventual fundraising drive.

This documentation (videos, images, texts) must answer questions such as:

3. Plan your campaign To encourage your contributors to invest in your project, you must first develop a communication strategy. The questions you need to ask yourself are: Who do you want to reach? When? How? Communication is essential in crowdfunding, and that is why it is important to inform your network of friends and family – not only so that they will be the first to support you, but also so that they talk about it to others. In general, small investors follow the big ones, so it is important to convince the big investors first if you want to have a chance of succeeding in crowdfunding.

• How much is the funding target?

4. Reach your contributors

• How long should the campaign last?

Once online, your project must have the highest possible visibility. It is therefore essential to spread the word. Share on networks and by email, of course, but also meet potential investors in person.

You also need to set the compensation – rewards – for your investors, as it will be easier to find contributors if they receive something in return.

2. Submit your project The choice of platform depends on several factors, including the purpose of the funding and the amount of money the company is seeking to raise. Once you have chosen the right type of platform for your project, you can submit your project to the crowdfunding site’s coaches. They will give you feedback on the project’s viability and advice on how to improve it before it goes live on the platform.

“The first few days are crucial, "says Jacky Casas of start-up video-game developer RTFM. Indeed, the majority of successful projects reach 20–30% of their target audience in the first week.

5. Close the campaign Once the sum is reached, the crowdfunding platform pays you the money. Bear in mind, though, that it retains commission and transaction fees (between 5 and 10% depending on the platform). It is important to communicate regularly with your investors to keep them informed about your company’s development. If the project does not reach its target amount, the money is returned to the investors. In addition to Raizers and WeMakeIt, there are other crowdfunding platforms such as Ulule, Indiegogo and KickStarter.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Financial aspects

TOKENISATION: ANOTHER WAY TO FINANCE YOUR START-UP by Victor Busson, Chief Marketing Officer, Taurus Group SA

There are three categories of tokens: payment tokens, utility tokens and security tokens. The first category corresponds to cryptocurrencies. The second category contains tokens that give access to a digital use or service, such as loyalty points to reward customers or voting rights to make certain decisions according to the governance rules set up in a community. Tokens from these two categories often have no legal value at all, or at most a very limited one. The opposite is true of security tokens: these have legal value because they represent, in digital form, assets such as shares in real assets (e.g. a share in a property) or companies (e.g. shares in an SME). When people talk about the tokenisation process, they are generally referring to the category of security tokens. This is the process of digitising existing assets, where a token is matched to an asset or a share of an asset. Once issued, this token is registered on a distributed blockchain register, which acts as the official register. Tokenisation opens the door to a real revolution in the private capital market, i.e. the market for shares in unlisted companies, the art world or real estate. This is because the infrastructure used today to finance and exchange these types of assets is still archaic – it is manual and in paper form. Switzerland is a pioneer in this field. In February 2021, the Swiss Federal Council enacted the first batch of amendments to the new law on distributed ledger technology, which marked a major legal breakthrough at the international level. The Swiss Code of Obligations (Art. 973d-i) now officially recognises the transfer and storage of securities (shares, bonds, etc.) in the form of registered share rights electronically recorded in a distributed ledger. It is therefore possible for Swiss SMEs to issue their shares in the form of tokenised securities registered on a public or private blockchain. Similarly, investors holding these security tokens enjoy the same level of legal protection as a traditional investor holding a paper security, for example a shareholder holding a paper share certificate. In other words, 1 tokenised share = 1 traditional share.

There are numerous advantages to the tokenisation process, for both SMEs and investors. In particular, the management and transfer of shares is simplified, as it is now done electronically, with a few clicks, and with an overview of the capital table. Previously, the sale/purchase of shares required a multi-party Share Purchase Agreement to be signed by hand. Digitalisation has made it possible to go even further, with the creation of new electronic marketplaces for digital assets (supporting tokenised shares). These allow you not only to raise funds from customers, a community (B2C equity crowdfunding), or investors (B2B equity crowdfunding), but also to buy and sell these tokenised shares at any time on a secondary market. Taurus Digital Exchange (www.T-DX.com) is one of the first regulated marketplaces of its kind in the world. Raising funds or increasing capital becomes faster, simpler and cheaper, because there is no intermediary. Shareholders (employees, founders or investors) can benefit from better liquidity and transparency. Founders can create engagement programmes for their employees through the simplified distribution and management of shares or participation certificates.

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


However, before tokenising shares, it is important to ask yourself some questions: • What purpose are you trying to achieve? Do you want to simplify administration and save time? Raise funds? Create a secondary market to unlock liquidity for existing investors? • Are you clear about the consequences of tokenisation? Transparency in particular. • What audience do you want to raise funds from? Your user community (to increase engagement), new investors, etc.? • What capital structure do you want to tokenise? Share capital, debt, etc.? • Do you want to admit the company’s shares to trading on the secondary market? • What type of liquidity scheme do you want to put in place? Weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annual auctions, or a continuous trading segment like on a traditional stock exchange?

Starting the tokenisation process is relatively straightforward in Switzerland, and there are many players and turnkey solutions. It takes anything between ten days and several weeks, depending on the case. In all cases, the first step consists of a modification of the company’s articles of association; the second, the preparation of the operation; and the final step is the issuance of securities on the blockchain.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

HOW DOES A START-UP USE ITS CAPITAL IN ITS FIRST YEAR OF EXISTENCE? When establishing a start-up, questions relating to financing, finance, budgeting and cash flow arise very quickly. The Valaisbased start-up DePoly is developing a process that uses eco-friendly chemical depolymerisation to recycle PET products. Its CEO, Samantha Anderson, tells us how she invested her capital in the year that followed its creation.

HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR INITIAL CAPITAL IN THE YEAR AFTER YOUR START-UP WAS FOUNDED? For us, it was a little different from other start-ups because we were unable to do much for most of our first year of existence, due to the Covid-19 situation. But we used our capital mainly for consumable items for research and pilot plant equipment.

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST INVESTMENTS? Quite clearly the machinery purchased for the pilot plant. In our first round of financing, we obtained the largest investment in our history! WHICH OF YOUR EXPENSES TURNED OUT TO BE MUCH HIGHER THAN EXPECTED? For us, it was legal fees – mainly general administrative costs, costs incurred by the patenting process, and costs related to registering the trademark. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES YOU ENCOUNTERED DURING YOUR FIRST STEPS AS A COMPANY, AND ALSO TELL US WHAT SUPPORT YOU FOUND HELPFUL? A lot of the difficulties we faced in the beginning had to do with buying parts and finding the resources we needed. We were supported by an engineering company (Artelia), and they helped us a lot with this. We also had the support of our coaches, mentors, and lastly our venture capitalists, who are always there!

As a young company, DePoly is proud to have been able to launch and continue the development of its cutting-edge technology, which promotes a circular economy by placing recycling at the heart of its operation. Our process seems to interest a lot of investors because, at the end of 2020, the start-up completed a financing round of 1.3 million francs!


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

TAXATION In Switzerland, fiscal jurisdiction is held by the federal government, cantons and municipalities. Businesses (legal entities) are required to pay tax both on their profits and their capital. The tax authorities will notify you at the appropriate time of the amounts of these two taxes you are required to pay. Value-added tax is also payable. New companies must notify the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) of their existence, so that they can pay VAT.

ONE-PERSON BUSINESS (NO TAX PAYABLE) One-person businesses are not liable to pay tax. Each individual entrepreneur is liable to pay tax on both their private and business income, and on their private and business wealth. These two sources of funds cannot be separated.

LIMITED COMPANY AND LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (DOUBLE TAXATION) In contrast to companies with no legal personality, a clear distinction is made between private assets and the business assets of limited companies (AG/SA) and limited liability companies (GmbH/Sàrl). These companies are taxed as businesses, while shareholders and partners are also taxed as private individuals. However, at an economic level, this clear separation leads to double taxation. On the one hand, the limited company’s profits are taxed, and on the other hand, the shareholder has to pay income tax on any dividends they receive. The same applies to the company’s capital stock. A limited company has to pay tax on its share capital, and its shareholders have to pay a wealth tax, based on the value of their shares.

TAX PAID ON NET PROFITS Limited companies and limited liability companies pay tax on their profits. They become liable for this tax with effect from the date of registration in the Commercial Register. In principle, this is a straightforward tax, levied as a percentage of the company’s profits. A fixed rate is applied (e.g. 8.5% by the federal government). However, various systems are in operation. They vary from canton to canton and from municipality to municipality. The canton of Valais, for its part, uses a sliding scale, which varies in line with the amount of the company’s profits.

Financial aspects

Financial aspects

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022



Other than those mentioned earlier, the main taxes are:

VAT is an indirect tax charged by the federal government on businesses providing services in Switzerland, at the time goods are imported, and on purchasers of services provided by businesses whose head office is located abroad.

• Withholding tax (VST/IA) Intended to encourage bank account holders to declare their assets and shareholders to declare their dividends.

• Business tax Levied by municipalities, based on the following criteria: • Turnover • Number of employees • Surface area of premises used (or rents paid). The level of this tax varies from municipality to municipality.

• Stamp duty This is charged at the time securities are issued and traded, and when insurance premiums are paid.

TAXATION OF CAPITAL All cantons (though not the federal government) levy a capital tax. This is normally fixed at a rate of between 3 and 9‰. The canton of Valais, for its part, applies a sliding scale with modest variations. In most cantons, capital tax encompasses capital stock or share capital, and declared reserves.


The normal rate applied is 7.7% of turnover; however, it is 3.7% in the accommodation sector, and 2.5% on foodstuffs and non-alcoholic drinks, books, newspapers and magazines, medicinal products, and sporting and cultural activities (as at 01.01.2021). In principle, all businesses with a turnover of more than CHF 100,000 are liable to pay VAT. If you are unsure whether your business will reach this threshold, you can wait up to three months before declaring your business to the Federal Tax Administration (FTA), otherwise you must register within one month after your business has started trading. If you do not meet the relevant conditions, you can still opt for voluntary taxation, subject to certain provisos. This application must be submitted to the FTA in writing.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY I have a brilliant idea that could become a promising business. But how can I avoid having it stolen, copied or simply exploited by someone else?

Intellectual property

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

YOUR RIGHT TO YOUR IDEAS It is vital for an entrepreneur to be able to protect their idea and freely exploit their invention. This is the concept behind intellectual property (IP). The aim of IP is to guarantee its owner the exclusive right to exploit a business idea.

It is essential for a company, especially a start-up, to be able to capitalise on its idea(s). There are several ways of doing this, with either a patent or a trademark. These two elements thus become an essential part of the company’s capital – apart from anything else, they are reassuring for future investors.

Real IP protection strategies must therefore be developed. Entrepreneurs can get the help of professionals in this process to study the patentability of their idea or simply to check their freedom to operate (the ability to use or commercialise a product or process without infringing another party’s valid IP rights).



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Intellectual property



The design refers to the external shape of a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object. The shape is characterised in particular by the arrangement of lines, surfaces, contours or colours or by the materials used.

A trademark is a protected sign that distinguishes a company’s products or services from those of other companies.

A design can be protected provided that it is novel, inherently distinctive from existing designs in significant points, and not contrary to public morality or law. Furthermore, the shape must not be determined solely by the function of the object for which it is intended. By registering a design with the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE/IPI), you can prevent third parties from using products with the same or similar design for industrial or commercial purposes (in other words, manufacturing, offering for sale, importing or exporting). The design is protected for a maximum of 25 years.

All graphical representations of a sign can, in principle, be a trademark: • words (e.g. Victorinox); • combinations of letters (e.g. ABB); • combinations of numbers (e.g. 501); • graphic images (e.g. logo of the SBB); • three-dimensional forms (e.g. Mercedes star); • various other signs

The basic fee for registering a design is CHF 200. For each additional design submitted within the same application, an additional CHF 100 is added, up to a maximum of CHF 700. The publication of an illustration is included in the basic fee. Each additional illustration costs CHF 20.

By protecting your trademark, you have the exclusive right to use it to designate goods and services. This right can be passed on, for example through licensing or sale. You can prevent others from using a similar or identical sign for similar or identical goods or services.

A trademark is protected for ten years from the date of filing. The filing fee in Switzerland is CHF 550. Protection can then be renewed indefinitely for ten years at a time.

Useful links • Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE/IPI) • The Ark Accelerator

www.ige.ch www.theark.ch/en/accelerator

Intellectual property

PATENTS A patent is an IP right granted by the state for a technical invention. In the legal sense, an invention is a solution to a technical problem. To be patentable, an invention must be new: it must not form part of the state of the art. The invention must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art, and it must be industrially applicable. A patent gives the owner the (geographically restricted) right to exclude third parties from commercially using an invention for a period of 20 years. During this time, you have the right to prohibit the use of your invention for economic purposes without your permission. In return, you must explain your invention in detail and make it public. Protection can only be granted by a national office. There is currently no such thing as a worldwide patent, so you must file your patent in all countries where you want protection. If you are inexperienced, writing a patent application correctly can be difficult, and it is advisable to enlist the help of a patent attorney. The Ark Foundation, and especially its Accelerator service, has the expertise to help you with the process.

The fees of the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property are: • CHF 200 to file a patent application and CHF 500 for the IGE to examine the application. • The patent holder must then pay annual fees, which are CHF 100 from the fourth year onwards, then increase progressively each year to reach CHF 960 in the twentieth year. • These amounts do not take into account the general costs of using a specialist.

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

COMMUNICATION STRATEGY You’ve managed it! You have your business idea, your products, your business plan and your business model. Now you just have to find customers and make yourself known on the market. To do this, you need to put in place a marketing strategy, which should include all the elements of the marketing mix: your products, prices, means of distribution and the intended promotion. To be effective, a good marketing plan should focus on your company’s target customers. You cannot be visible everywhere at any cost, nor should you try to be.

Your marketing strategy must be based on promotional tools, which must be used together. Here are a few of them, divided into two main categories: "traditional" marketing and "digital" marketing.

Communication strategy

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022




To strengthen your company’s image, it is important to have an identity that is repeated on all your communication materials. A company logo is therefore essential. Taking this a step further, it can be very useful to draw up some corporate identity guidelines explaining how to use the logo and the different marketing materials.

When a new product or service is launched or when an interesting event occurs in your company’s life (1,000th customer, 5,000th machine produced, etc.), it is an opportunity to send out a press release to the main media in your region. The more engaging and less overtly promotional the information is, the greater the chance that the press will take an interest in your company and report on it.

BROCHURES These are the company brochure, flyer, price list, etc. where you set out the different services of your company on paper or in digital format.

Service providers: graphic designers, communication agencies, printing companies

MEDIA ADVERTISING Press campaigns (print, radio, TV, cinema, etc.) are another good way of making yourself known. They are expensive, however. Service providers: advertising agencies for the different media (e.g. Impact Medias for print, Rhône FM publicité, etc.), graphic designers or communication agencies

Before sending out a press release, think about which media are most relevant to your company (general, specialised, regional, national media, etc).

TRADE FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS Trade fairs and exhibitions are a good way of making your company known to a well-defined public, depending on the event’s positioning. Money must be budgeted for staffing the stand and setting it up. In addition to these costs, there are of course the fees for renting the stand space, which vary according to the standing of the exhibition.

Service providers: event organisers, stand designers (e.g. JokImport, Texner, Novaprint, etc.)

PROMOTIONAL GIFTS Made up in your company’s colours, small promotional products (sweets, pens, key rings, etc.) can be used to leave a low-cost "souvenir" with your customers. This merchandise is particularly handy to have at trade fairs and exhibitions, or when visiting customers.

Service providers: specialised companies (e.g. JokImport, Texner, etc.), communication agencies


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Communication strategy



Nowadays, a website is essential for any self-respecting company, regardless of its field of activity. It needs to contain as much useful information as possible for the customer. It should be built to answer the customer’s needs, not your company’s. A website can be an attractive sales channel, with no intermediaries. It can also be useful to complement your "standard" website with a blog, which allows for more interactivity. However, it is important to ensure that it is regularly updated, in order to keep the readers’ attention.

This is Google’s advertising service. It allows you to place ads on websites or in the search engine results. Detailed analyses of the impact of these advertising campaigns can be easily retrieved from the Google platform.

Service providers: web/communication agencies, online tools such as Wordpress, Wix, Site123, etc.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION Being well positioned on search engines is vital for your company. The contents of your website must be worked on – adding in keywords and external links – to ensure it is easy to find.

Service providers: specialised companies (e.g. JokImport, Texner, etc.)

NEWSLETTER This tool lets you send information directly to your customers, via electronic newsletters or personalised emails.

Service providers: communication agencies, free online mailing tools such as Campaign Monitor or MailChimp

Service providers: Google, via its online tool Google Ads

SOCIAL MEDIA Your business’s presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat or TikTok will increase brand recognition. It also enables you to contact your customers directly and get their opinion on your products. Of course, you have to use only those social media that are compatible with your brand image. Managing social media is time-consuming and needs to be done with care. It is important not to jump headlong into these channels, as this could be counterproductive.

Service providers: agencies specialised in community and social media management

Communication strategy

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

SOCIAL MEDIA Source: https://www.blogdumoderateur.com/

Social media platforms are now omnipresent in society. This social phenomenon can represent real added value for your business because you can use these tools to step up your online presence, raising your profile among the general public. Visibility, reputation and networking are the watchwords of this new form of communication. Simple and effective, social media networks are the new arm of the Web. But you do need to know how to use them correctly. All of these platforms operate on a points-based system, calculated using algorithms. If you don’t actively manage your networks, your business will end up drowning in a tsunami of digital information. So here are a few tips and tricks to help you stand out from the crowd and ensure your business surfs the top of the wave in the highly competitive field of social media.



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Communication strategy

INSTAGRAM The ultimate platform for audiovisual content – be creative and express yourself!

When should I post on Instagram?

Top tips

The best times are on two specific days at two specific times. The two most strategically advantageous days are Mondays and Thursdays, between 7 and 9am and 5 and 6pm. This will give you the biggest reach because that’s when the number of active users is relatively high.

• Present your products and services in context so that they feel real and users quickly understand how they are used. • Use high-quality photos and videos to project a strong visual identity. • Use stories to be authentic and spontaneous.

What are my main objectives? Whenever you start a post on Instagram, you need to have three main objectives in mind: • To promote your business. Your feed is your identity. The quality of your content determines the quality of your products and services and your company’s image. Generating well-crafted content suggests that your business can be trusted. • To make as many people as possible aware of your products and services. • To develop a relationship with your community by showing them behind the scenes: the progress you’re making, your research, your company and your projects. You do this by posting stories. Stories are short videos that stay on your profile for 24 hours, after which the platform deletes them. You can use stories to draw in internet users, appealing to their curiosity by showing them new sides to your business and offering your community access to exclusive content.

What are the Instagram audiences? In 2021, the Instagram platform had more than 1.3 billion active users every month. On a daily basis, more than 500 million accounts are active worldwide. This platform mainly attracts younger internet users, with more than 71% of users being under the age of 35. The majority of users are female, with over 54% women compared to 46% male users. Lastly, we have found that more than 90% of users follow businesses or brands.

• Communicate through influencers and key figures in your industry to increase your visibility and reputation. • Use relevant hashtags in your posts. Go for quality over quantity. The recommended average is 7 to 10 hashtags. • Don’t forget to mention the people featured in your photos and videos so that you will also reach their own communities, thereby expanding the reach of your post.

Useful tools on Instagram • Instagram Shopping is a functionality that you can use both to sell your brand’s products and direct users to your website for e-commerce purposes. This functionality also enables users of the platform to access and view content (photos and videos) on the products and services your business provides. It is mainly an online shopping tool. In this way, you can use Instagram as a showcase. • Instagram for Business is a platform functionality that you can use to raise your profile as a business among your followers. It is a way of making a distinction between a private and a professional user. A pro account is also designed to feature call-to-action functionality, which enables users to contact your business quickly and easily. Having a professional profile also gives you access to analyses and statistics on your followers and enables you to measure the performance of your posts. • Snapppt is useful specifically for e-commerce purposes. You can use this tool to turn any photo posted on the platform into a product info file, enabling internet users to access full information about your product with just one click. • Mojo is a tool you can use to create original, impactful and professional-looking stories. It’s a simple, effective tool. • InShot is a photo and video editing tool useful specifically for the file format you are required to use on Instagram.

Communication strategy

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


LINKEDIN As social media’s B2B arm, this platform is the best way to conduct business-to-business relations and exchanges. When should I post on LinkedIn?

Top tips

The best day to publish you posts is any weekday, in other words a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The best times are 8am to 10am and 5pm to 6pm. At these times, the chances of your posts being noticed are higher because users of this platform are more active then.

• In your posts, use hashtags that are appropriate to your target users and the areas of interest relevant to your community.

What are my main objectives? We have identified three main objectives: • To grow your network through prospecting activities. • To promote your business by highlighting your expertise and increasing your visibility. • To share content and news, particularly about what’s going on in your business and to showcase your employees.

What are the LinkedIn audiences? In 2021, LinkedIn had 575 million users worldwide, with more than 260 million users active each month. When it comes to the gender of users, we have found that 52% of users are male and 48% female. The average age of active users is 44. One final interesting fact: more than 85% of B2B (business-to-business) decision-makers use LinkedIn.

• Use visual content (images, videos and PDF files) to make you stand out at first glance. • Use storytelling in your posts. Tell either your own story or the story of your business. • Craft your content carefully, making sure it grabs users’ attention. Quality content will be more memorable to your target users. • Identify the people involved in publishing the post. This will increase your reach, thereby increasing the visibility and impact of your post. • Focus on engaging users and on quality. Building a high-quality, engaged community is the key to being successful on LinkedIn.

Useful tools on LinkedIn • Campaign Manager is LinkedIn’s advertising management tool. It enables users to create, launch and evaluate the performance of advertising campaigns on the platform. This online tool guides advertisers through the process of launching a campaign in order to reach the widest possible professional network. • ProspectIn is an extension that enables you to fully automate your prospecting tasks on LinkedIn while remaining within the daily limits imposed by the platform. The way this tool works is to fully automate the sequencing of the necessary actions on the basis of deadlines and conditions that you specify. • LeadFuze is an automated prospecting tool. It is a search engine that collects business information from all over the world. You can use it to find the contact details of anyone in your target market (providing they have a LinkedIn account), and you get unlimited access to the information.


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Communication strategy

TWITTER Social media information in real time. More than any other platform, Twitter is all about spontaneity. Succinct messages. The latest updates at any time. When should I post on Twitter?

Top tips

Weekdays (Monday to Friday) are the best days to post. When it comes to timing your posts, this depends on whether you’re posting for the general public or B2B. To reach the general public, the best times are 7 to 9am and 11.30am to 1.30pm. This is when most internet users are active. For B2B posts, the best times are between 12 and 3pm and 5 and 6pm.

• Maximise your presence on Twitter by using it as an additional customer support channel.

What are my main objectives? Your objectives can be broken down into three main points: • To track what people are saying about your business and manage your e-reputation. Your e-reputation simply means your entity’s reputation in the digital world. It is very important that you keep abreast of what people are saying about you and your business so that you can react and tailor your communications accordingly. • To share the latest news to build on your relationship with your followers and interact with them. • To improve your visibility and brand image and create a viral effect, that is posts designed to spread like a virus and circulate your content rapidly on different social media networks.

What are the Twitter audiences? Every month, Twitter has around 326 million active users worldwide. The age groups most active on this platform are 25- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds, who account for 25% and 24% of traffic respectively. Lastly, more men (60%) than women (40%) use Twitter.

• If you use popular hashtags, people come across you more easily on Twitter. • Cut to the chase in your messaging – you only have 280 characters. • Use visual content that draws the eye (images, video and GIFs). Your objective is to stand out from the plethora of content on the platform. • Twitter demands frequent content posting. Find a frequency that suits you and try to stick to it over time.

Useful tools on Twitter • Twitter for business involves creating a Twitter account specific to your business to avoid mixing private and commercial tweeting. It is an excellent platform for businesses that want to reach and connect with a new audience. Communicating via Twitter is easy and effective. Businesses of all sizes use it to grow their business. • Tweetdeck is a tracking and organisational tool that makes it easy to manage your Twitter presence. If you have several accounts and post regularly on Twitter, you can use Tweetdeck’s control panel to view the content in each of your accounts, displayed in columns. The best features of Tweetdeck are its ability to keep track of several accounts and to plan your tweets. • Buffer is an excellent tool for scheduling posts that helps you manage your accounts effectively. You can also use it analyse the results of your posts. • Talkwalker is a strategic intelligence tool that enables you to analyse what people are saying about your business on the Web. It works mainly by tracking the occurrence of keywords, providing you with a whole raft of data useful to your business. It is the guarantor of your e-reputation.

Communication strategy

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


FACEBOOK Facebook is the leading social media platform, with 2.895 billion active users every month.

When should I post on Facebook?

Useful tools on Facebook

According to a survey carried out by HootSuite, the best days to post are Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The best times are 9am, 3pm and 6pm. Posting at these times on these days will increase the chances of your post being read.

• Facebook Business Manager helps you organise and manage your business on the platform. You can also use it to create audiences, send out advertising campaigns and get reports on your posts and advertisements. This will give you a useful overview and provide you with statistics that you can use to refine your communication methods depending on the results you get.

What are my main objectives? We have identified three key objectives that govern business use of Facebook: • To build and engage a community. • To communicate content such as events, articles and the latest news about your business. • To promote your products, activities, services, know-how, etc., but also communicate general information about what’s going on in your business.

• Facebook Audience Insights provides you with in-depth analysis of the organic reach of your posts. This tool also helps you collect data on your Facebook audience, enabling you to calibrate future communication actions on the platform. • The Facebook pixel is a piece of code (html) that you insert into the pages of your website. It enables you to track the activities of anyone browsing your website.

What are the Facebook audiences? In 2021, there were more than 4.2 million Facebook users in Switzerland. In terms of age ranges, 49% of Facebook users are 25- to 49-year-olds. We have also found that more than 40 million businesses use Facebook’s chat tool Messenger to communicate with users.

Top tips • Publish visual content: native videos and images. Video posts create the best engagement rate. Video content is more attractive and draws attention more effectively. • Focus on posts that elicit a reaction from internet users. The more users feel involved, the better you will become known and increase the size of your community. • Use Facebook Ads to increase your visibility. Facebook offers you the option of targeting your audience precisely and sending them advertisements designed to elicit a reaction, creating a conversion. This targeting improves your return on investment. If you direct your ad to an audience that is potentially interested in your services, your products or another aspect of your business, you are more likely to gain high-quality, long-term customers.

By way of conclusion, please note that you don’t have to adopt all of these social media platforms. Invest in the one(s) that appear(s) to be most relevant to what your business does. It’s better to have fewer accounts and manage them actively than to have too many and end up neglecting them. As we have seen, social media platforms represent real added value for your business. They will help you become more visible and enhance your digital reputation. The next step is up to you!


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

Communication strategy

DESIGN THINKING by David Corthay, founder of Vertical Studio

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT THE HEART OF YOUR BUSINESS The key to design thinking is to put the customer’s experience at the heart of your business, instead of focusing on the products you want to develop. You can take this approach at any time, but it is particularly relevant when you are creating your business plan – placing the consumer’s needs first in your strategic thinking enables you to respond effectively to their needs. David Corthay shares his knowledge on the subject. Companies are all evolving in a culture of innovation. This touches on several dimensions: human and economic (business model), of course, but also the increasingly influential dimension of technological progress. "The company sits in the middle, being squeezed by all three forces. It has to adapt and find its way through this new environment, "says David Corthay.

MULTIDIMENSIONAL APPROACH Corthay takes the example of Mattel, which tried to market smart speakers for kids. Parents quickly took a stance against it, and the product had to be withdrawn from the market because it was regarded as inappropriate."In this case, Mattel did not have sufficient knowledge of its customer ecosystem.” The value of innovation lies not in the technology involved but in the way it transforms the customer experience. Design thinking allows problems to be tackled by developing solutions. The iconic case of this is the iPod: at its launch, it was not a technological innovation but a new way of consuming music. The same holds true for Nintendo’s Wii, which was primarily a proposal for a different way of playing, in a more immersive way. Design thinking emerged in the United States at the turn of the 1980s, against the background of the technological revolution and the growth of the service economy. The process is clearly human-centred, with technology being relegated to a backseat role. This multi-dimensional approach, which takes into account not only technical advances but also the customers and business model, enables a company to avoid the destabilising effect of focusing on technology alone.

A FIVE-STEP METHOD Design thinking is not solution-oriented, but problemoriented, according to David Corthay. It follows a process that has five key steps:

1. Empathy for the user With a touch of inspiration and the ability to understand unsatisfied needs, you can see the problem through the customer’s eyes. "The customer must never be reduced to the act of buying. You need to look at them in the wider context and identify their emotions." This step draws on the humanities, including ethnography, in order to obtain as much information as possible about the customer. The customer’s "journey" through the company is also analysed, as are their feelings at each stage. All this is done with the aim of identifying their pain points.

2. Problem definition Once the pain points have been identified, the next step is to summarise and define the problems.

3. Idea generation This step allows you to visualise new opportunities and explore new ideas without restriction (at least initially). This can be done through brainstorming, drawing, workshops or "what if" approaches.

4. Prototyping Prototypes rapidly emerge, from which you can select the right solution(s).

5. Testing Full-scale tests must then be organised to check the relevance of the ideas before the solutions are placed on the market. This approach borrows elements from the lean start-up methodology and Google’s Design Sprint. Even in this phase, the customer is always at the heart of the process since they will be the one to test the prototypes.

TAKING IT FURTHER This last chapter has some final tips and practical tools for your day-to-day life as an entrepreneur or future entrepreneur. Go ahead and use them if they inspire you!

Taking it further

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS Time is money. This well-known saying is particularly true for entrepreneurs. The multitude of tasks and activities they have to personally manage makes time management absolutely essential to ensuring the business development process runs smoothly.


1. Set a framework Ask yourself: what is the purpose and mission of my business? It is important to give your activities a framework and to stick to it. You run a serious risk of spreading yourself too thinly if you undertake tasks that have nothing to do with your field of activity.

2. Do the things that add value The 20/80 rule says that you should focus on the 20% of activities that are most essential to your business, because they generate 80% of the positive results. It is very tempting to focus on the activities you like doing and leave the ones you don’t. So you need to concentrate on the activities that add value.

3. Prioritise tasks Make a list of the tasks for each week and classify them according to their importance and urgency. Urgent/important tasks should be number 1, less important tasks number 2, etc. To increase efficiency, do each task in one go and start with what you enjoy doing the least.

4. Identify time-stealing factors There are many things that steal your time and energy – computers, travel, meetings, colleagues, and so on. Analyse how you spend your time and identify the time-stealing factors to counteract them.

5. Learn to say no Not saying yes to anything and everything saves invaluable time. However, you must evaluate the request and the benefit of doing the task. It is essential that you make the person asking understand that your refusal is due to a lack of time and not a lack of interest.



Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

6. Plan your time It is essential to plan your activities. An efficient schedule should consist of 60% planned activities and 40% free time to handle the unexpected.

7. Be disciplined This is probably the most difficult rule to implement. You yourself are your biggest time waster. You will have to take a good look at yourself and change your habits.

8. Get organised Putting all these rules into practice requires a certain amount of rigour and good organisation. Tools such as Outlook and Excel allow you to optimally manage and coordinate your tasks and appointments.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS It is important to know your limits and set yourself ambitious but realistic goals. You also need to identify all the sources of time wasting and distraction: instant messaging, checking your emails too often, too many discussions with colleagues, etc. Good time management inevitably requires discipline.

Use the NERAC* method to manage and monitor your tasks and activities


Note down your tasks and activities


Estimate how long they will take


Reserve some time for the unexpected


Adjudicate activities by priority, urgency and importance


Check the progress of tasks and carry over the unfinished ones * A French-language time management system

Taking it further

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022


10 GOOD REASONS TO CREATE YOUR START-UP Congratulations! You’ve found that innovative idea you can start your own business with. But at some point you have to take the plunge and jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship. Not sure if you dare to do it? Here are ten top reasons why you should. 1. Be your own boss

6. Choose your co-workers

Who hasn’t had this dream? The power to make all your own decisions about the future of your business is the opportunity – and also the responsibility – that the entrepreneurial adventure offers you.

You are the one who selects your employees, partners and suppliers – and you can make sure you only work with the right ones!

2. Make your dream a reality

7. Do what you love

With a start-up, you’ll be able to bring your idea to life and embark on a fabulous adventure you can commit to entirely.

Setting up your own company guarantees that you will be doing what you love, at least most of the time – you still can't escape the paperwork.

3. Escape the 9-to-5 grind

8. Enjoy unprecedented support

As the head of your own business, you’ll have a lot of freedom to organise your working hours. No more fixed routines! Of course, to start with, you’ll need to put in a lot of hours in order to validate your project and get started in your target market. But, since you will be passionate about the subject and will be working for yourself, the time will fly by!

You’re not in this adventure on your own. Whenever you want, you can get the support of organisations and institutions whose job it is to help you in your work as an entrepreneur. They can provide you with coaching and targeted assistance, specific guidance and experience sharing. Naturally, The Ark Incubator is a leading exponent.

4. Rapid response time Everything moves very fast in the world of start-ups, especially in the field of new technologies. By founding your own business, you can set your own pace and break away from the slow decision-making process that often hampers large companies.

9. Extend your knowledge and experience You will learn an exciting amount about corporate life and life in general. You'll learn all the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur, the applicable laws, how to sell your product and yourself, and much more – all very useful, whatever becomes of your start-up. Real life is the best teacher, after all.

5. Self-actualisation Doing what you dream of, developing an idea you believe in, is an excellent way to achieve self-actualisation. Without getting into the psychology of it, creating a start-up will help to shape or strengthen your personality.

10. You could found the next Facebook If a start-up is based on a strong, original idea, it can enjoy rapid and remarkable success. We couldn't wish for more for you than to be the founder of the next Google or Facebook. But, to have a chance of succeeding, you have to dare ... dare to take the plunge into the great ocean of entrepreneurship. What are you waiting for?


Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

ENTREPRENEURIAL TOOLS WEB TOOLS THAT CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER Which are the most useful web tools for an entrepreneur? The tools below are all available on the internet, and most of them are free to use. They have been created to simplify the daily management of a business. Whether it's managing social media, monitoring your company's online reputation, managing tasks and notes, sending newsletters, creating a dynamic business presentation, creating an online business plan or anything else, the internet offers multifarious tools that meet the needs and expectations of the many entrepreneurs of this world.

Here are a few:

• Awario lets you monitor your online reputation using specific keywords. (https://awario.com/) Free • Bit.ly is a URL shortener. (http://bitly.com) Free • Buffer helps you build an audience on social media and beyond . (http://buffer.com) Basic version free • Canva lets you create presentations, posters and visual content for social media. (www.canva.com) Basic version free • CleverReach lets you organise email campaigns and schedule newsletters. (www.clever-reach.com) Basic version free • Domainr checks which domain names are available for your website. (https://domainr.com/) Free • Easel.ly is a tool for creating infographics. (www.easel.ly) Free • Enloop can help you design your business plan and share it with users for feedback. (http://enloop.com) Basic version free • Evernote replaces your post-it notes and lets you share your ideas with your colleagues. (http://evernote.com) Basic version free • Expensify is an expense management system. (www.expensify.com) Basic version free • Flipboard helps you to discover and share the stories that interest you. (http://flipboard.com) Free

Taking it further

Taking it further

Handbook for Entrepreneurs 2022

• Followerwonk analyses your presence on Twitter. (www.followerwonk.com) Basic version free • Froont lets you mock up responsive landing pages and publications. (http://froont.com) Basic version free • Gimp is a free visual creation tool. (www.gimp.org) Free • Google Docs lets you store all kinds of files and access them from anywhere in the world. (http://docs. google.com) Free • Hootsuite is a dashboard for managing social media. (http://hootsuite.com) Basic version free • Jumpchart lets you create mockups for your website and collaborate with your team on the different pages. (https://jumpchart.com/) Free • LastPass is a password manager that saves your passwords online and keeps them secure. (https://www.lastpass.com/) Free • NoCRM.io is a lead management software that tracks your sales and simplifies your order processing. (https://youdontneedacrm.com/) Free • RescueTime measures time spent on digital devices and the internet and helps improve productivity. (https://www.rescuetime.com/) Free • StartMyStory is a French SaaS that guides you through the creation of your business plan. (https://www.startmystory.fr/) Free • Wix helps you to easily create your own website. (https://wix.com/) Free • Youseemii analyses your company’s presence on the internet and social media, and presents a complete overview of all the tweets and publications about you. (http://www.youseemii.fr/) Basic version free

Explore more than 200 tools on our free web tools portal www.theark.ch/fr/outils and at any time with the hashtag #outilentrepreneur.



CONTACT US The Ark Foundation, and in particular its Incubator, helps young companies wishing to set up in Valais.

+ 41 58 332 21 20

incubateur @ the ark . ch

www . the ark . ch /en/incubator

The Ark Foundation Rue de l’Industrie 23 1950 Sion Switzerland

© Copyrighted content. Any reproduction is prohibited without the consent of The Ark Foundation.


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