Are You Allowed to Start a Business in France?
The first step in starting a business in France is to determine if you're actually allowed to do so. Simply put, you have to be either a citizen or resident of France (or the EU) to be given legal permission to start a business in France. Unlike other rights in France, such as getting married or acquiring work here, the right to begin a business in France is strictly reserved for citizens and residents. Even if you just moved to France, all you'll really need is a residence permit and it'll be your ticket to setting up shop in Paris, Cannes, and any other French area.
Common Business Structures in France
When it comes to the structure of your business, you have to determine what it is before making your business plan. Here in France, there are only about three main structures to abide by when setting up a company. The first is the SARL, which is more or less like a limited or LLC company. This means that the company is all your own and you reserve many of its rights. Then there's the SAS-type company, which is more or less partnering up with an already-existing business but still giving you sole rights to your own entity. And finally, there's the branch-type business, allowing you to head and manage part of an already existing company.
Categorize Your Business
The next step is to categorize your business. What type of business do you want to run? Is it a commercial company, where you open up your business to customers out there? This is, perhaps, the most common category out there. Or do you want to practice your trade and sell products that you specialize in making or have a complete understanding of? Craftsmanship is very important to the French, after all! Offering your services as a professional is also a type of business you can set up here. And, arguably the most basic category: agricultural business.
Make a Business Plan
Now it's time to make a business plan. It's the same as any other country—layout what you want your business to be, who your target market is, construct time-frames, and determine your end-goal. It will also help to fully define and detail the product or service you're providing for your customers. Once you've got everything down, you'll have your guide to make the process a lot easier and more organized. Furthermore, your business plan can also act as a proposal for when you seek loans, investors, and more to help begin and sustain your company.
Register Your Business
If everything's settled, it's time to register your business. You'll have to register your business under the appropriate registration center (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises) according to your chosen category. It's this entity that you'll have to answer to and keep updating when there are changes within the company. You then start by creating your own CFE file for your business then submitting the right documents to being the process. Once all of that is settled, you'll have to pay a certain deposit to jumpstart your operations. And when everything is done and accounted for, you'll finally have your business.
What You'll Need to Register Your Business
When it comes to documents, what exactly do you need to show? Well, it varies depending on the structure of your business and its category. But perhaps the most basic of such are simply proof that you are actually a resident of France. This goes with all types of business set up, regardless of structure and category. It will include documents of identification, such as passport, valid ID, driver's license, and such. Don't forget your residence card as this is probably the most important. Then there's proof of address, ranging from your electricity and utility bills, rental lease, and the like.
Opening Up a Business Bank Account
In the mids of the process of registering your business, you should set up your company's bank account as well. Now, this is an important part that realizes the actual formation of your business. The account is to be used for your business only, which is why it's separate from your own personal account. Though you can let your business agent—if you hired one—open the account for you, it's better to do it yourself. At the time of opening up this account, you'll have to show your business plan to the bank in question. This can also help you get a loan for your first deposit in your registration.
Hire an Accountant
Hiring a business agent might not be a requirement of setting up a business in France but getting an accountant practically is. Though there's also no law that obliges you for such, it's often better to have someone do your finances for you. This is especially if you will be hands-on with your business yourself, particularly when it comes to freelance-type businesses. More importantly, make sure that someone is both professional and reliable as you will I've him/her equal access to the business fund as you. The fate of the company rests on his/her hands as it does on yours too!
Publicizing Your Business
Once all of that is done, you can finally start advertising your business. There are mainly two ways to do it: via print or via social media. Over the years, both avenues have been instrumental in the growth of many businesses in France. The former, via print, helps you capture a wider audience, especially if you do it through a popular newspaper or magazine. Meanwhile, the latter, via social media, help create buzz around your company even before you officially launch it to the public. And you can do it yourself too by starting your own business page son various online platforms.
When it comes right down to it, setting up a business in France isn't as complicated as it may seem. There are only but a few legal hurdles to jump over, but once you're done with all of them, it will be smooth sailings from here on out!