How to make your new business thrive in France


If anyone ever told you that setting up a new business was easy, they were lying.

It’s always going to be hard to start a business because it will require long hours, working outside your comfort zone, incredible self-sacrifice, and (probably) an initial injection of cash from the entrepreneur. This is especially true if you’re setting up shop in another country, say France, where the laws, customs, and language are different from your own.

In fact, the stress of actually setting up a business is one of the major reasons that half of all businesses fail within the first five years, so how can you beat the burnout and set up a thriving business in France?

Here are three major ways to seriously improve your odds of success.

Choosing the right industry

It’s only right that we start here, given that this will be the first decision you make about your business.

The most important thing to consider when starting your business is how passionate you’ll be about your product or service because honestly, if you aren’t excited about your business, how can you expect anyone else to be? Basically, if you think of baking as a chore, then opening a patisserie shop is probably not for you.

However, it’s also important to consider how well your company will survive in unknown economic climates.

It’s hard to know what the business world will look like in the next decade, especially given the big political changes that are happening right now (i.e. Brexit), so choosing an industry that (statistically) is financially secure no matter the economic climate will be a big plus.

Here are just some of the biggest business winners, even in a bad economy:

  • Cosmetics
  • Sweets
  • Luxury Goods
  • Tattoos
  • Alcohol
  • IT
  • Discount Clothing
  • Funeral Services

Hiring someone who knows the lingo

If you want to start a business in France, it’s going to be a major plus if you can speak a little French (especially if you’re planning to live there too). However, there’s a major difference between knowing how to order a black coffee and a croissant from the café down the street or discussing the plot of the latest bestselling book, and navigating the legalese of the French tax system.

The legal and tax systems of any given country are complicated enough in your native tongue, so it only makes sense to be kind to yourself and outsource where you can.

By hiring an English-speaking French accountant to sort out things like VAT, social security, property taxes and, even, payroll, you can free up your time to focus on the day-to-day running of your business, which will in turn make your company run smoother.

Even if you’ll be able to handle the majority of the legal/economic matters yourself, it might still be worth hiring someone for the short-term when you initially set up your business in France; if for no other reason than to help you strike a work/life balance and avoid the burnout we mentioned at the top of this piece.

Investing in good marketing

The dynamics of marketing have changed exponentially since the Mad Men heydey and this is even truer if you’re targeting the younger generation. Nowadays, you don’t need Don Draper and a boardroom full of execs creating a billboard campaign for you; you need a millennial with a smartphone and some editing software to run your social media.

Think about it; how many times have you seen a beautiful chocolate lava cake on Instagram and ordered specifically from that bakery? How many times have you seen a pair of retro sunglasses on someone’s Pinterest and clicked through to the store’s website? Yeah, you get it.

Hopefully this article has given you a lot to think about and a few helpful tips on setting up a business in France. If you’ve already made the first steps towards starting your business, share your tips in the comments below.

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