You have just created, or are about to register, your first business in France and are now wondering: what next? You’ve searched on the web and found nothing! Could it be that easy that nobody talks about it? Or should you worry about what’s about to hit you? Whether you created a micro entrepreneur, entreprise individuelle, EURL, SARL, SAS, SASU, you want to project yourself into what is coming next. In this article, I’m guiding you through the first steps of your French business’ first to-do list.
1 - Check your details on your INPI summary
Since 1st January 2023, all business registrations are being handled by a unique and central website by INPI - Institut National de la Propriété Intellectuelle. INPI is collecting all the data, but in the background they may send the information to Tribunal de Commerce (incorporated businesses, buy-to-resell activities), or Chambre de Métiers.
Once you have received your INPI attestation, check that your personal and business details are correct. For instance, your full name, date of birth, activity, and tax regime chosen. Then you can finally pop the bottle of Champagne open! Enjoy this first step, as I’m sure that you have already done a lot of work to get here. This is your first official step in the French system. Bravo!
2 - Create your invoice template with legal information
It might sound obvious, but your invoices have to match French legal requirements. A few of these include adding your SIRET number, address, VAT mention (even if you are not VAT registered), and the EI - Entreprise Individuelle mention after your name. If you have a EURL, SARL, SAS or SASU, you will use this mention next to your trading name instead of Entreprise Individuelle.
Take the time to research the compulsory information needed on French invoices and prepare your template invoice. Be ready to invoice your 1st customer. Also, ask yourself how you will get paid: Paypal, Stripe, bank transfer abroad or in France, check “chèque"?
3 - Sort out your junk mail
I beg your pardon Valerie! I’m only talking about your postal mail. As annoying as it can be, you are going to receive some posts (between 5 to 10 letters) within your first 3 months in business. Learn to spot what is compulsory, such as Urssaf, CPAM, Impots or INPI... from scams.
Unless you requested for your business details not to appear on INSEE’s directory, online directories will have access to your data. Some businesses will use this information to send you “promotional offers” disguised as what looks like compulsory directories.
Even if it’s a pain initially, I recommend not hiding your business details, as it is an easy way for us to spot when something is wrong with your business. For instance, wrong activity code, error in your address, business being inactive, or attestation required for a visa renewal. If your details are hidden, you will have to write to INSEE to get a copy of your business record or any attestation: Bonne chance! Better not to be in a hurry for a visa or carte de sejour renewal.
4 - Open a dedicated bank account
Notice that I didn’t say professional bank account in this title? It’s because officially, it's not compulsory for micro entrepreneurs to open a dedicated bank account until they reach 10,000€ of sales. For all other business types such as entreprise individuelle, EURL, SARL, SAS, SASU, I’m afraid that it is compulsory to open a professional bank account from the start.
But believe me, even as a micro entrepreneur, you want to split your personal finance from your business. And you probably also want a sub-account to save for your business taxes.
My surprising tip here is that it’s easier to open a business bank account when you already have a personal bank account in France! I always say to my customers that once they land in France, they have to take a few weeks off to settle down, enjoy the French lifestyle and then get a utility bill in their name and open a personal bank account. It doesn’t sound glamorous… but it saves you time in the long run.
5 - Chase your health cover
Don't assume that your health cover will happen smoothly on its own. Look out for letters from Urssaf & CPAM and NEVER (I mean this!) ignore a letter from them. If you are new to the French system, CPAM will run an identity check, before they issue your permanent French social security number. They will ask you for some proof of ID , sometimes several times!
Never ignore these letters and reply as soon as possible. For someone new in France, it's not unusual to wait 3 to 4 months to get your carte vitale. Keep track of this process to ensure it doesn't get stuck somewhere.
6 - Check & choose your bookkeeping system
Nope, it’s not quite the same thing and here’s why. You want to check what you are supposed to do in terms of bookkeeping with your business structure. It won't be the same for a micro entrepreneur or a French incorporated business, such as EURL, SARL, SAS or SASU.
Spending a few hours looking for and choosing a bookkeeping system will save you time in the long run. Are you going for paper, Excel or an accountancy or sales software? Book some time in your agenda to set it up, add the legal mentions on your invoices and add your terms and conditions called CGV for “Conditions Generales de Ventes”. Ask yourself a few questions such as: What do you need to track? Do you need an accountant? Before you ask, the answer is “non” for a micro entrepreneur, you can manage it on your own with a little help from me.
7 - Download my Checklist
I've designed a Micro Entrepreneur Setup Checklist to help you see key things you will need to do or keep a track of after your business registration. Download the Micro Entrepreneur Setup Checklist, print it, and tick the letters, forms and steps as you go through them.
If you want extra support or want to be shown how to do the above 6 steps and more, join Manage Your Micro Entrepreneur’s group course (Mid-Feb and October). In this course, I’m walking you through all the steps to set up, manage and control your micro entrepreneur once you’ve registered your activity. Send me an email to be added to the waiting list.