5 tips for starting your own business in France
Many of us dream of kissing the rat race goodbye and setting up our own business, preferably in an exotic locale where we can visit a famous landmark at lunchtime or head straight from the office to the beach.
One of the most popular locations for starting a new business is France and it’s not hard to see why. France offers an attractive base for plenty of businesses, especially those catering to the tourism and leisure industries. It’s also, importantly for import-export businesses, still in the European Union so its trading links with many countries and business regulations are unlikely to change dramatically in the next few months or years.
However, setting up a business in France is still a time-consuming and challenging task, as it would be in any country. That’s why we have put together these tried and true tips to help you.
How to start a business in France
1. Figure out what kind of business you want
You probably already have a rough idea of what you’d like to do, but now is the time to fill in the details. Decide exactly what you want to do and how it’ll differ from the other businesses in your industry. Knowing that you want to open a B&B in Lyon is a great start, but ask yourself about size, activities, and specific location.
2. Do market research
This is the most important thing that you can do before you start a business in France because it will show you what kind of market there is for your product or service before you invest a lot of money into it.
Make sure to investigate:
- Consumer demand
- Competitor pricing
- Advertising channels
- Supplier pricing
3. Make a business plan
Now put all of your ideas and research into a workable plan that you could show to potential investors or the loan officer at the bank. Make sure to show how your product or service meets demand and how it is different from your competitors, but also when you expect to turn a profit and how much.
Make sure to include a provisional investment plan that shows what you need to start your small business in France. Depending on the type of company, this could involve IT equipment and software, vehicle(s), stock, marketing tools, a physical building, and cash flow. In this part, you should also calculate your yearly running costs, including insurance, utility bills, marketing, social contributions, etc.
4. Wrangle with the bureaucracy
Every country has a certain amount of red tape involved with starting a business, but if you choose to set up a business in a country other than your own you could be facing a whole new world of legal regulations, possibly in a language you don’t speak. This doesn’t need to throw a spanner in the works or take up all the time that you could be spending on developing your business though.
Instead, you can get professional help from a business advisor or an English-speaking accountant in France, who already knows the system and can explain it to you in words that you’ll understand. Companies like Augefi specialise in helping people like you set up small businesses in France, so they know what you need before you do. Better yet, they can even handle the dreaded French VAT and tax systems.
5. Improve your French
Even if you’ll mainly be catering to tourists, working with suppliers that speak English, and hiring a French accountant to navigate the legalese, it’s still a good idea to work on your French before you go as it can only increase potential clients and improve your social life.
Hopefully, this article has shown you that starting a business in France can be done with a whole lot of hard work and determination. It may take effort, but we believe that it’s worth it in order to live your dream.
Now, we’d like to hear from our readers who have started up their own small business in France. What other advice would you give to people who wanted to take the plunge? Which of these tips do you think is the best? Let us know in the comments.