How easy is it to start a business in France?
France is a G20 nation, and compared with other G20 nations; it is relatively simple for business setup.
Is France a good business place?
France is the nation with the 3rd largest economy in Europe and the 6th largest economy in the world. It also has a large population, causing a huge demand for goods and services by citizens. And it is a great place for businesses to flourish, as it has a highly sophisticated market.
France has a highly educated and industrious workforce. And these workers possess the skills and education to contribute positively to businesses in the nation.
How can a foreigner start a business in France?
Before starting up a business in any location, doing some feasibility study/background check is important. It will help you determine if the business would thrive in that location. Also, it helps you know other important things to do before launching out.
For example, you should create a business plan when starting a new business. This would guide you on the financing, administrative structure, system of employment, etc.
Now, starting a business in France as a foreigner involves some steps. And they are as follows:
First, you need to identify the category your business would fall into, according to France’s business categorization. In France, businesses are categorized into five categories. They are:
- Commercial or industrial
- Commercial agent
So, you need to know the category your business falls into based on the above categorization. And each of these business categorizations above has its registration centre. It is known as Centre de Formalities des Enterprises (CFE).
Now, you also need to acquire some legal documents made compulsory by the law. They include:
- Business license
- Residential and work permit
- VAT registration
- Intellectual property protection
- Non-disclosure Agreement
- Operating agreement
Next, you need to discover the kind of business structure your business would fit into. There are two types of business structures: sole proprietorship and company.
After determining this, you can choose a business name and logo. However, you have to check through the Institut National de la Propriete Industrielle (INPI) to verify that the name is not already used. It is also advisable to trademark your name and logo so that someone else cannot use them in the future.
After establishing the company’s name, you would be required to open a business bank account. And after opening the business bank account, you need to put a share deposit of €4,000 into it. This is what you would use for the financial operations of your business.
After this, you are to make a public declaration in an authorized newspaper about the launch of your new business. After this publicity, you would then be incorporated. And this would involve your applications being officially stamped by different government departments.
After you receive your certificate of incorporation, you will be given a registration number. This registration number is your business ID. And it must be written on all official documents, receipts, etc.
Afterwards, your business account will be activated. You would also receive a welcome letter from the tax office with a VAT number and the contact details of your tax officer.
Business ideas to start in France without money
Social media management:
One of the business ideas that you can start in France without money is the social media management business. This is a business where you deploy skills to manage and grow social media accounts. These could be individuals, businesses, or organizations’ social media accounts.
This is a lucrative business that would thrive, as social media is a lucrative field where people target for sales these days. Hence, if you are competent at managing social media accounts, then you can do it.
You need to post content, monitor growth, analyze existing strategies to improve, etc. It is a great business idea that you can launch from the comfort of your home.
Content Writing is another hot-cake business idea that you can launch without money. Content writing involves creating written content in the form of blog posts, articles, etc., to answer the questions in the minds of a target audience.
It is a marketing strategy used by organizations, individuals, brands, etc., to target their audience, gain leads and convert the leads to buyers. As a content writer, you can start this business as a freelancer. And you can also do SEO, copywriting, etc., as you expand and get bigger.
Due to the huge number of non-french-speaking tourists that visit France yearly, earning a living as a translator is feasible. As a translator, you should be fluent in speaking French and another global language, usually English language. Thus, you can offer translation and interpretation services to foreigners who do not understand French.
You can also serve as a translator between people involved in business deals who do not understand each other’s language. This is possible, provided you understand the language of both parties.
Starting a business as a life coach in France is another brilliant business idea. It can fetch you a lot of money, provided you know your onions.
A life coach is a professional who guides people on how to live a productive and successful life. And it is usually done through webinars, seminars, one-on-one consultations, etc. As a life coach, you get paid for your knowledge. You can also get invited as a guest speaker at events to speak to people for a fee.
You can also start a business as a babysitter in France, and this requires no startup capital. All that is required is your love for children and the skills to care for them while their parents are away.
As a babysitter, you can freelance and babysit for more than one family at a time. However, this depends on the schedule agreed upon with your clients.
Franchise opportunities in France
There are many franchise opportunities in France. And they include:
Verbatim was established in 2016, and currently, they are in 23 countries. It is an EdTech company that focuses on helping families recommend professions for their children based on the children’s inborn intelligence and ability.
They have a brainwave analysis, which they use to assess children’s inborn ability to recommend professions for them. The one-off franchise fee costs $9,900, with no renewal fee.
This is a beauty salon business established in 2017 in Ufa. It is a franchise that focuses on various aspects of making a woman beautiful. These include makeup, pedicure, manicure, hair making, etc. Women and girls also hold meetings and parties there.
The initial investment for this franchise is $18,000, and the payback period is 3 months.
This is a business that targets individuals, groups, etc., who want to stay fit by being involved in training workouts. It is an international fitness chain with businesses in about 21 countries.
When you buy an orange-theory fitness franchise, you get access to training to help you run the business. The franchise fee costs $59,950, with the initial investment fee ranging from $488,405 to $994,360.
Alexander Kovshov and his wife established friendly English. It is a group of language clubs which focuses on helping children from age 4 to 17 get additional education. In 2016, they had the first 2 group meetings, and fast forward to the following year; they had a huge demand for their services.
In Friendly English, flexibility, professionalism, openness, etc., are the principles of operation. The franchise fee ranges from $2,700 with an initial investment of $4,700. And the payback duration is 4 months.
This is a coffee business chain, which was established in 2012, and was franchised 10 years later, in 2022. It is a network of coffee houses which makes roasted coffee and pastries.
Palermo Coffee offers exclusive and high-quality coffee beans, as well as more than 15 varieties of tea. Their customers highly rate them, making them thrive and flourish in business.
The franchise fee ranges from $2,500 with a total initial investment of $12,500. The payback period is from 8 months.
Websites to find businesses for sale in France
Businesses for sale is a website where businesses for sale in France are listed. It is a large online market where many businesses are placed for sale in France. They have businesses in different sectors listed on the website.
Examples of the popular business categories on the website include guest houses, restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, etc. The businesses on the website are well-screened and verified before they post them. They connect business sellers to potential buyers.
French Property is another website that lists businesses that are to be sold in France. They are involved in selling businesses, properties, lands, etc.
France-property.com helps to connect buyers to sellers. And the properties listed on the website are well-screened and verified.
Exit Adviser is a for-sale-by-owner platform that helps business owners to sell their businesses in France. They prepare, plan and execute the sales of businesses for small business owners.
Exit Adviser also possesses tools to determine the value of a business on sale. They also provide guidance and support to make the process of selling your business easy. It is the most efficient online market to get online business buyers.
Bizquest is another website where you can sell your business or look for a business to buy in France. It is an online platform that connects business sellers to potential buyers in France.
The businesses listed can be filtered based on location, industry, asking price, etc. Examples of some of the industries listed on Biquest.com include education, fitness and beauty, food and restaurant, automotive, etc.
My French House is an online platform that lists businesses for sale in France. On this website, they sell properties, businesses, buildings, apartments, etc. They are dedicated to making the process of selling and buying businesses and properties in France easy and seamless.
My French House works with carefully selected and verified businesses in France. The company is an independent UK-based company. However, they have listings for businesses and properties in France.
Tech business opportunities in France
Fintech means financial technology. And it has to do with using technology to facilitate financial transactions. Examples of fintech transactions include the use of cryptocurrency, mobile banking, etc.
There are many fintech startups in France which are thriving and expanding daily. Thus, it is a great tech business opportunity in the country.
Content automation has to do with an automatic and digital method of planning, creating, and posting content on various social media platforms. It is a digitalized and automated method which does not involve manual effort in creating and posting content.
Many businesses are on social media. And they need a fast way to create content, post content, monitor growth, carry out analytics, check what is working, etc. Thus, the need for content automation to do this. This is a brilliant tech business opportunity that one can launch in France.
Mobile Application Development:
Mobile application development has to do with the creation of mobile applications. Mobile applications refer to phone apps which are used to carry out various functions. For example, we have mobile finance apps, educational apps, mobile notepads, etc.
Launching a mobile app development business in France would surely yield profit. It is a highly demanded skill, which helps to increase business growth.
Customer Experience Management(CMX):
Customer Experience Management is a tech idea that helps you to serve your customers well and give leave them with great memories when they patronize your brand. It helps to give your customers a pleasant experience when they buy from you.
Now, customer experience management brings together all sales, marketing, and customer service details in one place. This is to enable you to serve customers well. It also helps you to target the right set of customers for the right goods and services. It helps your customers to have a seamless experience when interacting with your business.
Benefits of doing business in France
There are many benefits to be derived from doing business in France, and they are as follows:
Efficient Transport Structure:
One benefit of doing business in France is the opportunity to take advantage of its efficient transport structure. France has one of the most reliable and efficient transportation structures in the world. And this is needed for many businesses to thrive.
To start with, France has the largest road network and the second-largest high-speed railway network in Europe. This is a great benefit that would help any business thrive, especially in the areas of importation or exportation of goods.
France has a great and quality workforce, which is needed for business growth. The professionals in France are highly educated and competent individuals who give their best in any endeavour they are involved in.
Thus, establishing your business in France would give you access to quality workers who would take your business to greater heights of success.
Low cost of running a business:
The cost of running a business in France is low, as it takes less than 1% of the average per capita income to set up a business. And this is ridiculously low compared to the 9% required in other G20 nations.
The cost of renting a business space, buying furniture, etc., is also low compared to that of other big nations, such as Japan, the United States, Germany, etc.
France also has a large market of up to 600 million customers and access to another 500 million customers of the European Union market. This is a massive market for any business to target and sell.
Friendly business environment:
France has an environment that helps businesses to thrive through the great business policies in place to help businesses grow. The nation has great policies such as reducing corporation tax, providing help for the unemployed, etc.
Challenges of starting a business in France
The following are some challenges one is likely to encounter when starting a business in France. They are:
One challenge of starting a business in France, especially as a foreigner, is the difference in culture that you would notice. In France, people are very polite and prioritize knowing one another well before a business can be introduced.
Thus, you need to learn to adapt to this culture. So, before introducing your business to anyone, you need to create a rapport between yourself and them. This would make them more eager to patronize you. If done otherwise, you may be considered rude.
Long business registration process:
Registering a new business in France is long and complicated. It is a lot of bureaucracy!
In France, you must go through a series of registration processes before launching a business. And all your registration and documentation must be done in French.
The accounting system for businesses in France has a legal way of being done. Here, your accounting must be computerized according to the French entries file.
This means that you can only use authorised and designed account software to keep accounts in France. Any other accounting software is not allowed. Also, all your accounting has to be done in French. And this applies to both sole proprietors and companies.
The process of paying taxes is another challenge one would encounter as a business owner in France. France heavily taxes sole proprietors’ businesses for up to 50% of their income. And for micro-enterprise, their taxable income is 25%. Now, this is a lot of money that could adversely affect the finances of a company.
Asides from this, there are other numerous taxes to be paid. They include property taxes, local taxes, income taxes, wealth taxes, CET local business tax, etc. This high level of taxation is much and can even push a business into bankruptcy.
Creating a business bank account:
One of the challenges that you would encounter in opening a business in France is creating your business bank account.
This step is important when starting your business. However, it has been discovered to be time-consuming, difficult, and stressful. This makes opening the business slow and can be a huge challenge for business owners in France.
Difficult access to credit facilities:
According to the World Bank ranking, France is ranked the 104th country in the world regarding “ease of getting credit”. This means that getting access to credit facilities is tedious and takes time.
Access to credit facilities, loans, etc., is important to expanding a business. Thus, businesses that do not have access to these facilities would be limited in terms of expansion.
30 profitable small business ideas in France
Many profitable businesses can thrive in France. Here, we will examine 30 profitable small business ideas to start in France. They include:
Running a taxi business is very profitable in France. France receives a huge number of tourists annually, which is especially true for a place like Paris. So, as a taxi driver, there is a high market in demand for your services.
However, before starting a taxi service business, you must obtain a license and other permits from the local authorities. This is a profitable business that yields a lot of money.
Food Truck Business:
Another profitable business you can launch in France is the food truck business. This is a mobile restaurant in which you sell food out of trucks. The setup cost is also low compared to when you want to start a restaurant.
The food truck business is profitable, as it is a form of fast food that many appreciate. It is a business worthy of being invested in. You can start with the vehicle and other equipment needed.
Caring for pets such as dogs, cats, etc., is a great business idea to launch in France. And this would work out well if you have the knowledge and skills to care for these pets. Possessing a fondness for pets would also be an added advantage.
As a pet carer, you would be saddled with caring for your client’s pets. And you charge for this, depending on many factors, such as how long you are to care for these pets, the kinds of pets, etc.
Cleaning companies are fast becoming a thing due to the busy life led by most people. Thus, most people are unable to clean their homes or even too tired to do so. Hence, they employ home cleaning services to help them out.
As a cleaning company, you are employed to clean your client’s home, office space, event centres, etc. And you charge them according to how enormous the task is. You can also employ some other people to join you, to make the work faster and better.
The interior decoration sector is a thriving one. And it is a great business idea that you can start on a small scale before expanding.
As an interior decorator, you are employed to beautify the interior parts of your clients’ homes, office spaces, event halls, etc. Thus, you must possess qualities such as colour combination, attention to detail, organization, etc.
To thrive in this business, you need reliable contractors who can supply you with furniture, curtains, and other necessary fittings to decorate a place.
Real estate agency:
The real estate agency business thrives well in France. However, to launch a real estate agency in France, you must possess the necessary permits.
A “carte profession Nelle” is required to show that you possess the integrity and professional qualifications to start such a business.
Nowadays, many people prefer to outsource their events’ running around, planning, and organization to professionals. This is where you then come in to take that burden off their neck. As an event planner, you can also make a lot of money by launching your business in France.
As an event planner, you would be in charge of many things, such as refreshments for the event, finding a suitable event centre, etc. Thus, it would help if you contacted reliable food vendors, event centre owners, etc.
African gift shop:
Another business idea you can start in France is opening an African gift shop. Many Africans are in France, and they have a sentimental attachment to their origin.
So, you can set up an African gift shop where you sell unique African objects. Just ensure channels where you can get African gift items, and you will surely enjoy high patronage.
Starting a photography business in France is another lucrative business idea that can make you loads of money. As a photographer, you help to preserve people’s memories in still images, and this is something people will pay for.
You can take photographs at events, photographs of tourists visiting France, etc. It is a great business to do if you possess photographic and photo editing skills.
Another business idea to be launched in France is the courier business, where you help transport things from one place to another. It focuses on express and door-to-door delivery.
Many businesses these days require courier service to help them send goods to their customers over short and long distances. This is necessary for convenience and ease of business over a long distance.
You can also start a security agency, where you have security agents that people hire for personal use or events. A security agency is a highly in-demand business that involves recruiting able-bodied and well-trained security agents that can be hired to work in various places.
In this sort of business, you are contacted by those needing the agents. Then you assign any security agent that fits in for the demand made.
Jewelry and accessories business:
A jewelry and accessories business is also lucrative. This business mostly targets women who love using jewelry and other fashion accessories.
A jewelry and accessories business can also sell bridal accessories to expand its reach.
A beauty salon is where people are beautified by making hair, cutting hair, doing pedicures, manicures, etc.
A beauty salon is a profitable business and is highly in demand due to the interest of French citizens in fashion and beauty.
You can also start a catering business if you are a good cook. You can use those culinary skills to earn a living.
As a caterer, you can cook for events, such as weddings, birthdays, in-house parties, etc. You can also cook in bulk for people to keep in their homes.
The art gallery business is another business idea that would thrive in France. This is due to how art and beauty are appreciated by its citizens.
You can also provide Information Technology Services in France as an IT professional. This is in much demand by many companies, organizations, NGOs, and even the government.
As a sport lover, you can become a sports coach, training individuals in your sport of interest. This could be football, basketball, volleyball, etc.
Sports coaching can bring in a lot of money if you build your team to excellence.
Another profitable business idea that you can start in France is a coffee cafe. Here, various flavours of coffee are made for coffee lovers.
You can also make signature coffee with unique recipes that your customers would not be able to find elsewhere. And with this, you would thrive in business.
Gift basket business:
You can start a gift basket business, where you buy gifts and put them into baskets to sell. You can also do customized packages, where you package-specific gifts, as requested by your clients, to be gifted to their loved ones.
This business would thrive anywhere in France, provided you are well-positioned.
Online fashion store:
You can also start an online fashion store where you sell fashion items. This could be clothes, shoes, bags, etc.
Fashion is an important part of the lifestyle of French citizens. Thus, individuals would be more than willing to patronize you.
And since it is an online store, in which they don’t have to physically walk down to get what they need, they would be more encouraged to make purchases.
Healthy snack business:
A healthy snack and organic drink business is also a lucrative small-scale business idea to launch in France.
It is a great business idea that most French citizens would welcome due to the healthy lifestyle loved in the nation.
France is a tourist destination, especially because of the beautiful city of Paris and other places in the country. Hence, starting a travel/tour business is a good idea.
As a travel/tour business, you help organize people’s travelling details by helping them book flights, get tickets, book hotel accommodation, etc.
Haulage involves moving goods and products from the manufacturers to other large consumer outlets, factories, warehouses, etc.
It is also a business that would thrive in France.
Owning a bookshop is another profitable business idea. As a lover of books, you can open a bookshop to sell books of various genres, titles, etc.
This is also a way of promoting the reading culture in a nation. You could also have a mini booth, where people can read books.
Human Resource Business:
As a Human Resource expert, you can start a human resource business to help companies, organizations, etc., recruit great talents.
This is a great business idea whereby you connect companies with promising candidates for job roles.
Packer and moving business:
This is a business that involves helping people in the process of relocation. As a packer and moving company, your job is to assist individuals who want to move from one location to another.
Here, you pack their loads and move the loads from the current location to the final destination.
You can also start a dance school or organize dancing training and coaching for individuals, groups, etc. It is a great business idea, which allows you to use your skill while doing what you love; dance!
The cybersecurity business is another great business in the tech space. This business requires you to safeguard the database of companies and keep them from being hacked by fraudsters, etc.
Virtual assistant business:
As a virtual assistant, you are saddled with the responsibility of helping your client perform secretarial duties. You carry out tasks such as organizing schedules, booking flight tickets, giving meetings and deadlines reminders, etc.
Do this as a freelancer. then you can later expand and hire others to help you when your clientele grows.
Gardening business is also a great idea, which can fetch you lots of money in France. Individuals in France love to keep their gardens well tended to. However, they do not all have the time to dedicate to this.
Hence, as a gardening business, you can offer your services to take care of people’s gardens at a cost.