Why Now is the Time to Realise Your French Business Dream

France is the world’s favourite tourist destination, but for many people, a short break isn’t enough. Sampling the food, culture and scenery is often enough to make you want to pack your bags permanently, and begin a new life in France. By starting a business in the country, this dream could be much closer than you think.

With plenty of turmoil around the world, now generally seems like a good time for a change - but this is especially true of France. A range of factors are coalescing to make France the most attractive destination in Europe, both to live and work. Here are just a few reasons why now may be the ideal time to realise your French business dream.

Brexit

if you’re thinking about moving from the UK to France - or are already in France and want to put down roots - you’ve got a limited window to take advantage of the UK’s pre-Brexit benefits. While this applies to all of the countries in the EU, France is perhaps the simplest and most logical move for any UK business seeking an EU base - not least because they have been actively courting British businesses.

Related article: How to transfer your business to France

With Brexit having now officially taken place, the UK has entered the ‘transition period’, where many rules for UK citizens in the EU and vice versa will be preserved. For individuals looking to reside and start a business in France, this means preferential conditions for residency, rather than the strict requirements imposed on non-EU citizens.

Moving to France will allow you to benefit from things like freedom of movement, maintaining easy access to a pool of continental talent. For exporters, it will also allow you to benefit from tariff-free and reduced tariff trade with nations the EU has trade agreements with, including the U.S. and Japan - something that it may take the UK several years to secure.

Economic upturn

One of the prevailing stereotypes about France is that for all the wonderful things about it, the business landscape isn’t one of them. Running a business in France is said to be a laborious process, where even getting started requires you to traipse around the country with armfuls of paperwork, and hiring anyone means selling your soul to the unions.

Of course, a country with these sorts of problems would barely be functional, let alone the world’s 7th largest economy. While not popular with everyone, current President Emmanuel Macron has enacted a slate of business-friendly reforms, and contributed to a rapidly developing French business landscape.

Related article: How does the payroll system work in France?

Changes to tax and labour laws have seen an end to the growth of temporary job roles, while the number of people in full-time roles has grown. More pertinently, France’s manufacturing output has risen - contrary to neighbours Germany, where output dropped 5.3% year-on-year. Consumer confidence also rose in January, defying expectations that the ‘yellow vest’ protests and pension strikes would have a detrimental effect.

Starting a business in France now takes an average of four days, making it faster than the UK and twice as fast as Germany (as long as you have all the correct paperwork in order!) While it's best to have a company formation agent to help with the paperwork and the French language, it puts pay to the old ideas of France as a business backwater. With the benefits of Macron’s reforms becoming obvious, now is the perfect time to take advantage.

Cutting-edge industries

Germany is often thought of as Europe’s economic heartland, and remains a slightly larger economy than France. But the French are no slouches, and there’s a convincing argument to be made that France is better positioned to serve the demands of the future than Germany is.

Related article: How do I pay VAT / TVA in France?

Where Germany is heavily reliant on manufacturing and the Mittelstand - the old family businesses that make individual components for large corporations - France is emerging as a bastion of tech businesses in Europe. Already home to several major companies - including Ubisoft, Orange and Atos - France is now funnelling decades of expertise into a generation of new tech talent.

Championed by President Macron since his time as a government minister, the country’s La French Tech initiative has seen investment snowball, and the creation of tech hubs in over a dozen cities around the country. France now boasts multiple tech unicorns, and sends the largest foreign delegation to the Consumer Electronics Show each year.

Trends increasingly point to a software-driven future, with hardware beholden to algorithms that will help cars drive themselves, and sensors to see and interact with the world around them. France is uniquely positioned within Europe to cater to this movement - what German thinkers have dubbed ‘Industry 4.0’ - and is the biggest challenger to Silicon Valley’s hegemony.

Why Now is the Time to Realise Your French Business Dream 2Location

One of the main things people admire about France is its landscapes, from the lush green climes of Northern Europe to the summer sun of the Mediterranean. Yet while it is beautiful almost wherever you are - no small factor if you plan to live there - it’s also in a geographically advantageous position. Depending on the nature of your business, being situated in France could be a huge benefit to your international trade and connections.

Being situated in central Europe is ideal for many time zones, positioning you more or less halfway between the United States and Asia, and in line with much of Africa. This has similar logistical benefits, with strong transport links by rail, air and sea. As mentioned, France also benefits from being part of the European Union, with access to a wide pool of labour, fewer tariffs and unique research grants.

Related article: Video Guide to Starting a Business in France

More specifically, France is a great place to be based if you plan on manufacturing goods. As well as having a global reputation for quality, France is home to numerous manufacturing hubs, with particular specialisms in food, automotives and precision engineering. It also has generous schemes for R&D funding and non-EU employment through the ‘Passeport Talent’ scheme. Often mislabelled as a tech visa, the scheme actually applies to a wide range of creative industries and sciences, with tech being just one.

From food to talent to visas and grants, France is one of the best places in the world to live and work, and a country very much on the up. At a time when many of the traditional giants of the business world are in political or economic turmoil, starting a business in France could provide the stability your new or expanding business needs - and a lifestyle you may never want to leave.

This is where Euro Start Entreprises can help. Our network of contacts will help you to start your business in France with the minimum of hassle and paperwork. We can help with everything from company formation, to opening a business bank account in France, finding English-speaking French accountants that can help with specialist tax advice, finding a registered address in France for your business and we can also help you with VAT services and online payment processing. We're a one-stop shop for everything you need to start a business in France. So feel free to reach out to us by calling us on 0033 (0) 1 53 57 49 10 or email us via our contact page. Or download our free guide below.

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