Living France - - Lifestyle -

Make the most of col­lege cour­ses and classes aimed at help­ing peo­ple to set up busi­nesses in France.

Talk over busi­ness ideas with neigh­bours and friends first and test the wa­ter at small-scale events to de­ter­mine if there is scope for the foun­da­tions of a busi­ness. Look out for fliers and check the in­ter­net and Face­book to find out what’s on.

Mar­kets are a great way to test out ideas. In ru­ral ar­eas, it’s usu­ally quite easy to get places, with pitch fees from just €5, or a lit­tle more for an elec­tric hook-up. Dur­ing their first week at their lo­cal mar­ket in Civray, Deb­bie and Andy had to turn up at 7am and wait for the placier (mar­ket man­ager) to al­lo­cate them a spot. They had dif­fer­ent pitches for the first four weeks be­fore be­ing granted a per­ma­nent po­si­tion. In the city of Poitiers, they had to ap­ply in writ­ing to the town hall and show all their pa­per­work be­fore be­ing al­lo­cated a spot in one of the main squares.

Sole traders are au­to­mat­i­cally taxed un­der the per­sonal in­come tax sys­tem. Deb­bie opted to be taxed as an auto-en­tre­pre­neur (now called the mi­cro-en­ter­prise régime) which means she pays a lower rate but one that’s based on her to­tal turnover. See im­ for more in­for­ma­tion.

Peo­ple op­er­at­ing food busi­nesses in France are ex­pected to hold food hygiene cer­tifi­cates is­sued af­ter at­tend­ing a statu­tory two-day course. All food busi­nesses are sub­ject to reg­is­tra­tion with, and an in­spec­tion by, the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance is a must for any­body look­ing to run a food busi­ness. The first step to­wards get­ting in­sur­ance is to reg­is­ter with a lo­cal trade as­so­ci­a­tion, such as a cham­bre de métiers or cham­bre de com­merce as ap­pro­pri­ate. “Pois Chic falls be­tween two stools – com­merce, which sells things, and métiers, which makes things. We’ve reg­is­tered with the cham­bre de métiers,” ex­plains Deb­bie.

En­sure menus are writ­ten in French and con­sider build­ing a web­site, in French, so that po­ten­tial cus­tomers can find out more about the busi­ness.

Source in­gre­di­ents lo­cally when pos­si­ble as this creates good­will among cus­tomers, many of whom will have a spe­cial re­gard for what’s pro­duced on their doorsteps.

Get to know your neigh­bours and seek their help when writ­ing let­ters to the lo­cal town hall or other ad­min­is­tra­tive bod­ies.

“Learn­ing to speak French well takes time and ded­i­ca­tion,” says Andy. “I think French peo­ple are gen­er­ally very for­giv­ing about your lack of flu­ency if you are clearly try­ing, and if they see that you’re pas­sion­ate about what you’re do­ing.”

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