Setting up a business can be a daunting task – and that’s before you factor in doing it in a foreign country, in a foreign language. Thank goodness, then, there’s so much support available.
This week, I took a short course at Lille’s Chambre de Commerce. It was billed as an atelier du créateur-repreneur, or workshop for start-ups.
I was recommended it by the Chambre de Commerce in Sarlat-la-Canéda. Well, I say recommended – what I actually mean is that they refused to give me any help until I had taken the course.
I don’t think they’re being difficult. It’s just that the course allows their advisors to save some time and possibly put off any time-wasters.
I first got in touch with the Chambre de Commerce when I was trying to find an alcohol licence – a licence IV – to buy for our cheese-and-wine bar. As it turned out, I was offered one separately and didn’t need their help.
But I would appreciate support with some of the formalities in setting up a business, so I booked myself onto the two-hour workshop.
About 15 of us packed into a room at Lille’s rather beautiful Chambre de Commerce – with its impressive belfry, it is one of the city’s landmarks. Our presenter then ran through all the things we would need to consider as part of setting up a business.
Market research, business plan, finance, marketing mix…
So far, so good. Damon and I have studied the market, written most of our business plan, worked out the finances and know who our customers will be and how we might reach them.
They also offered us the help of a range of resources, including their online Business Builder tool.
“I first got in touch with the Chambre de Commerce when I was trying to find an alcohol licence for our cheese-and-wine bar”
Then we got onto the tougher part of the afternoon: what type of business we would set ourselves up as? There are plenty to choose from, all with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Micro-entrepreneur, entreprise individuelle, société à responsabilité limitée…
My brain was whirring. If I’ve understood correctly, we’ll need to be a limited society, a société à responsabilité limitée, as there are two of us.
At least I now know what to ask the advisor at the Chambre de Commerce first, now that I am able to make an appointment to see her.