Checklist on how to start a business in France from scratch

By Valérie Aston on 19 January 2017 · Viewed 3965 times · Questions

Are you ready to start your French business? Here is a straightforward checklist to ensure that you cover all the key steps.

  1. Do your market research
  2. Create a step-by-step business plan
  3. Write the financial section of your business plan
  4. Meet an accountant, lawyer or notaire, business advisor
  5. Choose your business legal structure in France
  6. Register your brand name or trademark
  7. Prepare your legal contracts (letters of incorporation, premises, domiciliation)
  8. Open a professional bank account
  9. Register your business in France
  10. Start trading

Checklist to Start a Business in France

  1. Do your market research

    Research your market and the latest known trends. Find figures referring to its size, whether the market is increasing, stable or evolving. A few useful websites for your French market are afecreation.fr, the national institute for statistics insee.fr or credoc.fr.

  2. Create a step-by-step business plan

    Describe your products or services, price range, unique selling proposition. Analyse your customer profiles and habits. Analyse your competitors. Describe your marketing strategy to target your market.

  3. Write the financial section of your business plan

    How much money will you need to start your business? How will you finance it? What are your yearly business running expenses? How much income will you need to draw out of the business to live on? Make a turnover projection and assess your break-even point.

  4. Meet an accountant, lawyer or notaire, business advisor

    List all the questions that have arisen while working on your project and go and see a couple of accountants, notaires or business advisors to help you refine your projections and cover legal and tax advice. Do you need to protect your home or asset, how much social charges will you pay, do you need to go for a sole trader or an incorporated business? Ask for quotes for their services.

  5. Choose your business legal structure in France

    What legal structure makes the most senses based on the risks involved in your business activity, your personal liability and your development plans? Will you start as an auto-entrepreneur, entreprise individuelle, EURL, SARL, SAS or SASU. For incorporated businesses, will you be better off opting for income tax (impot sur le revenu) or incorporation tax (impot sur les societes).

  6. Register your brand name or trademark in France

    You may consider registering your trademark or brand name with INPI, the national institute for intellectual property. You can do a research online to check its availability on Ici marques. (bases-marques.inpi.fr).

  7. Prepare your legal contracts (letters of incorporation, premises, domiciliation)

    Based on the company structure you have chosen, you may have to work on your letters of incorporation (statuts), premises rental contract (bail commercial), domiciliation (business address rental) or déclaration d'insaisissabilité (to protect your home).

  8. Open a professional bank account

    Meet your bank manager called conseiller bancaire professionnel to present your business project, event tough you may self-finance your project. Give him/her a copy of your business plan, financial plan, a copy of your last income tax form and a copy of your letters of incorporation for an EURL/SARL/SAS. The manager will request a copy of your official business papers to open the account (Kbis).

  9. Register your business in France

    Once you are ready, you will need to register with Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE). For trading activities go to Chambre de Commerce, for manual activities go to Chambre de Metiers, for intellectual based services called profession liberales, go to URSSAF. Farming activities relate to Chambre d’Agriculture, while estate agent and agents commerciaux relate to Greffes du Tribunal.

  10. Start trading

    You can finally start concentrating on your business launch and start trading. Do not ignore paperwork sent to you and in doubt ask your accountant or on the forum.

I have 3 services to help you start a business in France

  1. Everyone's questions: To date I've answered about 56,355 questions for 2,658 members. Membership is for a year and you can be 100% sure of getting all the answers, options and information you need
  2. Helpline: This is a one to one service that covers a lot of ground. It's for when you want to get up to speed quickly, to talk through your options in-depth and fully understand the implications of your choices.
  3. Auto-entrepreneur business registration: I can register a business for you in France. You'll be registered quickly, correctly and with no errors to hold back your business. I'll manage the whole process for you.

About Start Business in France

Start Business in France advises English speakers wanting to launch and develop a business in France. With over 10 years’ experience working with small businesses, I help future entrepreneurs understanding the French system and make the best choices and informed decision for their activity.


Valerie Lemiere: Start Business in France

About the author: Valérie Aston

I've been helping people who want to start or already have a small business set up in France since 2009. After graduating from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, I worked as a senior marketing consultant in the UK and France for various International companies. I worked as a conseillère en création d'entreprises (senior business advisor) for BGE here in France and run this independent business on a daily basis.