French News Archive

Business in France

Networking for Business Start-Up

Tuesday 08 August 2017

Take time to network in setting up your business in France, says Sally Stone of LBV Bons Voisins.

‘Always ask a busy person’. I love that saying, and how many times have I found it really works. When I’m trying to help someone with an aspect of French bureaucracy that I don’t have the answer to, it’s amazing the quick response I get from other business acquaintances.
No wonder the property management business I have managed for the past 15 years across France is called a ‘network’.

Ever seen how quickly you can break a single strand of thread, but just how long it takes you once that thread if woven together with others?

If you might have attended the Les Bons Voisins seminars at the French Village at A Place in the Sun exhibitions (next one in September in Birmingham!) you may have heard my colleagues and I speak about ‘networking’ when you start up a business in France. 

I hate to think of the marital strife I may have caused with our advice to a new start-up to go to the bar every day to chat to the locals as you work on raising your own profile in the area!

At the stage when you might be information gathering about a potential new life in France, there is no need to be reticent when it comes to asking around; you will invariably get some useful information if you do so. You certainly will if you come to any of us in the LBV Group, normally within 24 hours.

In my experience, those who run a business in France are only too glad to share their expertise and are pleased to have the opportunity to impart real knowledge. 

But of course, you need to be cautious about what you believe. Like the plethora of ‘helpful’ posts on many of the internet forums that we find are sometimes just misinformed.  There is much that can be learned on using these forums, but the number of views expressed which are not based on fact sometimes makes us wince. 

And if that information is gleaned by you when you don’t actually know what you don’t know (Rumsfeld), how can you be expected to sieve it through and take out the gold but discard the dirt?

Now, asking a busy person might not necessarily get you the answer you want to hear, and much of our responses from Bureau Central at LBV fall into that category. 

However, that doesn’t mean though that there won’t be a positive result.   Witness the English electrician we encountered who had been told that all he needed to do in France was join a trade union and he would be able to work as an electrician here.  That is absolutely not the case; in fact, he would need to take a ‘conversion’ course which is several months long, delivered in French, and with tests at the end. I’m glad to say that, as a result, he and his wife joined Les Bons Voisins as property managers and now run a highly successful business.

Busy people out here will have seen ex-pats trying to settle in who are struggling as a result of not having any real plan, or who have set off to France with those spectacles just a little too rose-tinted.  Believe me, post-Brexit, life in France continues unabated:  running a business here is possible with the right choices before you start and the right support as you make your way:  and the quality of life is worth every bit of the blood sweat and tears it may cost you. 

Yes, life in France can be challenging – but so it can, everywhere.  After a while, dealing with bureaucracy is something you learn to take in your stride.

Earning a living in France does invariably mean self-employment, but it is something that can be embraced when you realise you are your own boss. And no French government is going to kick out those of us in France running a business and contributing to the French economy! 

So – don’t put those plans on hold:  always ask a busy person:  check out the credentials of people giving you the advice you will surely need:  and once on the ground, network like mad.  In that regard, I’m just off to the bar myself as there is always something new to learn…


©Sally Stone 2017

T +33 (0)2 96 24 74 27



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