Want to Start a Business in France? Four Key Tips for American Entrepreneurs


For a lot of Individuals, the prospect of France is a romantic one, with vastly well-liked movies and TV sequence like Amelie, Chocolat and Emily in Paris cementing France’s repute for glamour, allure and indulgence. However whereas the attraction of France’s way of life and tradition is plain, the nation additionally presents one thing that’s much less well-known – a swath of business alternatives able to be seized by internationally-minded American entrepreneurs.

With an estimated 4,500 American firms already working in France, it’s clear that the nation is a beautiful prospect to American business folks, and there’s the potential for excellent success in La République française. Nonetheless, if you wish to begin a business in France (or develop there) as a US citizen, it all the time pays to know as a lot as doable beforehand with a purpose to plan totally, keep away from frequent pitfalls and provides your business one of the best likelihood of thriving.

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picture credit score: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Why France?

Because the third-largest financial system in Europe (and seventh on this planet), there’s a lengthy listing of the reason why France is so interesting to business folks, a few of which embrace:

  • France is a vibrant and various nation that boasts a talented workforce, a big shopper inhabitants and entry to the world’s largest buying and selling bloc by way of its membership of the European Union.
  • It is usually welcoming and business-friendly, with the French authorities providing monetary incentives to each new and established companies and investing closely in analysis and improvement.
  • France has a strategically helpful location buttressed by a extremely developed transport infrastructure, enormously contributing to ease of journey and transit each inside and out of doors of the nation. London, for instance, may be reached in below 2 and a half hours by Eurostar from Paris.
  • France isn’t solely giant when it comes to its financial system – by floor space, France is the most important nation in Europe and is made up of 13 areas that each one characterize distinctive alternatives for entrepreneurs. It additionally borders eight nations and has a Channel, Atlantic and Mediterranean coast.
  • A global centre of business, the Paris area enjoys international standing as a significant business hub, and is the primary area in Europe for internet hosting the world’s prime 500 company headquarters.

5 Suggestions For Beginning Your business in France

One: Be ready to navigate forms 

For international firm founders from outdoors the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, there are predictably some i’s to dot and t’s to cross when establishing an organization in France, and the method can take a while. That being mentioned, nonetheless, France is welcoming sufficient to entrepreneurs that you could be discover there are fewer hoops to leap by way of than you first count on, and there are a lot of assets you possibly can entry to ease the method.

Anybody can set up a business in France by taking steps resembling registering a business handle and opening a checking account within the nation, however if you want to maneuver to France to embark in your new enterprise it’s best to apply for a long-stay visa often known as the “Entrepreneur/Self-Employed” (VLS-TS) momentary residence allow.

Eligibility is set by way of components resembling your skill to supply proof that you may be participating in an economically viable exercise throughout your keep, and when it has been permitted, the visa authorises residence for 12 months. Throughout this time, you’re allowed to reside in France and interact within the business exercise that you’ve got outlined in your utility.

This can contain a visit to the French consulate, of which there are ten throughout main cities within the USA. As soon as established, you’ll have to register your French business in response to the proper class of your enterprise. It is usually necessary to remember that France has specific rules throughout varied business sectors and employment practices, and that company banks in France require minimal capital investments.

Learning a second language

Two: Begin studying the language

With a inhabitants that has originated in each nook of the globe, multilingualism will not be uncommon within the USA – one in 5 US adults converse a language apart from English at house, (of which Spanish is the most typical). However whereas the USA has no official language, it’s truthful to say that English is the de-facto, and most notably within the business world.

It is usually the case that English is essentially the most extensively understood language within the EU, and a big proportion of Europeans converse English as their second language (with a formidable 25% capable of maintain a dialog in two further languages to their mom tongue). What’s extra, 39% of French folks report they can converse English, and lots of ex-pats transfer to the nation with out having the ability to converse French.

Regardless of this, it might be improper to imagine that you may simply default to English and thrive whereas operating a business in France. The inhabitants of France primarily speaks French in each private {and professional} contexts, and the French folks have appreciable language satisfaction.

English is likely to be extensively spoken in business circles, however demonstrating your willingness to study and use French phrases of greeting can be enormously appreciated, and it’s best to keep in mind that proficiency in English will not be a given. Over time, many ex-pats uncover that shaping up their French language expertise is vital to profiting from every thing the nation has to supply.

You also needs to account for the truth that French is the one accepted language for official paperwork and contracts, and as 61% of French folks don’t converse English, you’ll need a plan for smoothing over language incompatibilities in your business operations.

Three: Think about your new viewers

In lots of necessary methods, France will not be vastly totally different from the US, however it’s nonetheless necessary to not underestimate cultural variations when establishing or increasing a business right here. Whereas actually smaller than the US, it’s additionally necessary to keep in mind that France is way from small by European requirements, and just like the variations between US states, there’s important regional variability throughout the nation.

Whether or not it’s one thing easy such because the better prevalence of smoking amongst French adults (round 33% versus 12% within the US) and the shortage of a widespread tipping tradition, or extra advanced subtleties in language, politics and historical past, there are a lot of issues that could be stunning about France as an American. For this reason we might counsel searching for the recommendation of those that know the nation effectively in lots of factors of your business to grasp the way it could land with a French buyer base.

There are additionally variations in legal guidelines and rules which can have an effect on your business, so it’s all the time value doing thorough analysis as you draw up your French business plan to determine and account for components which can not apply within the USA.

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4: Perceive France’s working tradition

American working tradition is somewhat set other than its European associates, with US residents usually working longer hours, having much less trip time, and consuming lunch (in the event that they don’t skip it) at their desks. It additionally isn’t uncommon for folks to take calls and reply emails outdoors of labor hours, and employers are inclined to have extra flexibility with regards to hiring and firing.

The French, alternatively, are inclined to have a extra leisurely tempo of life which is facilitated by each government-mandated staff’ protections and the expectations of their working inhabitants at each level of the pay scale. This will take some adjustment when operating a business and is one thing you’ll must plan round – however the upside is, if in case you have chosen to reside in France, you’ll get to get pleasure from this slower tempo of life too!

Some issues to have in mind relating to French working tradition are:

  • The French will take their lunch break free from their desk, so until you organise a selected lunch journey, it is a unhealthy time for calls, conferences and emails (in the event you want a right away response).
  • They don’t solely have considerably extra vacation entitlement than Individuals often get pleasure from, they really take it (whereas the typical US worker who receives paid trip solely truly takes 54% of the allotted time every year.) That is often most evident in July and August, when business slows down significantly, and as many workers will guide extra day without work round public holidays, it pays to plan round these instances of yr.
  • Since 2017, managers and workers of firms with greater than 50 employees haven’t been required to reply emails outdoors working hours, and workers in smaller firms are more likely to comply with go well with.
  • French company operations are, for essentially the most half, very hierarchical. When doing business with one other firm, take the time to grasp the chain of command to make sure you are speaking to the best folks with a purpose to get outcomes.
  • Hiring in France is an costly proposition. Employers should account for top particular person taxes when figuring out worker wages and the slate of employment advantages they’re anticipated to supply. Whereas these prices are excessive, nonetheless, folks doing business in France are typically repaid with a talented and safe workforce.
  • Networking is commonly key to success within the French business world, with private suggestions usually that means greater than accolades and titles. Forging business relationships in France may be harder than in America (though the collaborative nature of American business could provide you with a ready-made benefit), however they have an inclination to final for a very long time, making them effectively definitely worth the effort.

There’s a world of alternative to be found by American entrepreneurs who make the leap and begin a business in France, and with correct analysis, a complete business plan, and that well-known American work ethic, success à la française may be effectively inside your grasp.

This put up was written by Katya Puyraud, an organization formation skilled at EuroStart Entreprises, who assist entrepreneurs begin a business in France and take the headache out of opening an organization overseas.