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Business Advice Service & Business Networking

Business Advice Service & Business Networking

Old Jan 8th 2020, 1:27 pm
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Smile Business Advice Service & Business Networking

Hi All
I’m based in the department of Gard in the south (Occitanie). Amongst many things, I’m keen to learn more about local small business advice centers here in France. Do they exist? If so, can you advise how I might find them and what they are typically called? Maybe it’s all gone online to the ministry of something website?? :-)
I’m particularly interested in reading comments and feedback from individuals who have had experience using small business advisory services. Maybe you own or have owned a small business and wish to comment on the quality of these advisory services (likes & dislikes). Maybe you even know someone who works in the service. Inside information would be great.

With regard to business networking (small business style). In such a context, where do the locals typically meet up? Is anyone aware of any national organisations or even local independent ones. Let me know if you have attended such events/meetings and what was your experience. Do you still go? Do you have any suggestions on how to best finding similar organisations here in the department of Gard? My friendly neighbours have absolutely no idea about these sort of things.

I’ll be looking forward to reading your comments that will no doubt help me sharpen my online search because, “…it seems like an online jungle out there” :- ) To be honest, it’s because my French is so poor. So it’s like wading through treacle. It takes ages (despite me sweet tooth).

So advice and comments are very welcome

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Old Jan 8th 2020, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: Business Advice Service & Business Networking

Your Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie is traditionally the place to start, or your Communauté des Communes if they have a resident or visiting business advisor.
Have a look at https://www.cci.fr/web/creation-d-entreprise
You can find the contact person at your local CCI here https://business-builder.cci.fr/contact/
Or there are online business creation support sites such as https://bpifrance-creation.fr/
Or see if your pole emploi can help, you will probably need to be a registered jobseeker first.
If you need help in English, this lady is good https://www.startbusinessinfrance.com/ especially on micro entrepreneur which she is right on the button with. She charges a small fee.

I did actually research all this but it's ten years ago now and I know things have changed (I used to be a business journalist in the UK and shortly after I moved to France a certain well known expat paper asked me to write a couple of articles on business support for expats considering setting up a business in France, so I looked into it all and went and talked to CCI business advisers and the chap at my local communauté des communes, and random other providers, and also a number of business owners who had set up from scratch using business support services). I remember I was impressed by the level and quality of support available, often for free, and how well the support network was structured and how seriously France takes its small businesses. After that I went on a bit of a crusade on expat forums trying to persuade Brits to take advantage of the advice that's available, because so many of them used to try and set up a little business all on their tod, in just the same way they would have approached it in the UK, and then when it didn't work out they complained about it being impossible to create a successful business under "the French system".

As regards networking, when I first set up freelance in France I joined absolutely loads of networking sites - LinkedIn, and there's another big one in France whose name escapes me for the moment, I set up profiles all over the shop but I never really got much out of any of them. I did get a few clients through the motamot site I linked to earlier.
I once went to a local expat networking event and it was worse than useless, mostly gite owners (nothing wrong with gite owners but if you're not one then listening to chit chat about gites and life in general is a waste of.a morning). The only networking I found worthwhile in the end was the professional association that I joined, and that was very useful indeed - presentations, conferences,useful advice, useful contacts, chewing the fat with people who shared the exact same issues as you.
In my experience networking is not as high profile here as in the UK. It exists of course and there is a bit of hype about it but in reality, I don't think most entrepreneurs invest much time in it, they are pretty much self contained. By the time you've met your deadlines and kept your accounts up to date and done your marketing and put in your bids and sent out devis, and followed up any rumours you might have heard about changes to the rules, you don't have too much energy left.
I joined the Féderation des Autoentrepreneurs for their regular newsletters and updates because especially with micro entrepreneur the regulations do tend to change and evolve every year and new obligations can be introduced at any time so you need a strategy for keeping on top of that. French businesses don't run themselves and it's up to you to make sure that you're complying with the current rules for your particular business structure.
If in doubt you can always confirm the rules straight from the horse's mouth on the government website eg https://www.service-public.fr/profes...sdroits/F23961

I'll stop rambling on now but if you have any specific queries, do come back.

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Old Jan 10th 2020, 11:47 am
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Default Re: Business Advice Service & Business Networking

Hi Euro Trash


Firstly, I have to say a heart felt thank you for taking the time to post so much useful information. It comes at a time when I need it the most. You pointed this out but I too quickly run out of daily energy when working to move ahead on personal projects. So being able to reach out and get feedback on forums like this, is invaluable. Thank you. I think it would have taken me weeks if not longer (who knows) to find the quintessential information that I need right now. Thanks to you, I’ll be able to move forward faster without reinventing the proverbial wheel. Whatever anyone might think of this country, France is a modern industrial society so, I knew the information was out there somewhere but as I am new to France and the language. Every line of information you posted was very helpful. So, keep sharing. :-) I just wanted to say this!

Moving on and being more specific. I will try to do both the immo and IT work in a freelance capacity so I will pay attention when I set things up. If as you said, in combining the two, I might be affected by French tax and business rules.

The website https://www.startbusinessinfrance.com/ is well written and in English (thank goodness)! I’ll be following up there. Of course, I’ll be doing the same with all the links you’ve provided now that you’ve pointed me in the wright direction. I’ll be able to crack on for a bit. Most of what I need to do now is technical admin work but it is so important to get it right. I can’t get away from form filling, electronic or otherwise. I’m getting accustomed to it. I think I’ll go down the DIY root for now. I’m a sucker for punishment. Seriously, I think I’ll lean more about how things are done locally and I’ll probably have a reason to visit my local Mairie again but I won’t waist time if I find myself hitting my head against a proverbial brick wall.

I’ll then seek out some of the professional associations. Beginning with, “Féderation des Autoentrepreneurs” and then sample some of the clearly more informal groups that are out there. Which reminds me, I do need to reactivate some hobbies. I look forward to that in the spring. If not sooner.

While being inspired by your posts. I came across the details of my local “Parc des Expositions” where they host trade shows and conferences. So, I’m going to be looking for similar places and find out more about locally scheduled business shows and conferences. As my only direct contribution here, I stumbled across the following website (https://www.xpobuzz.com/) It seems to be an online platform for trade show and conferences. It is an international site therefore, may be useful to people in many countries not only France. They list at least two business exhibitions that will be in my city during the month of January and another in February.

So, Euro Trash, you have given me at least a months’ worth of homework to deal with in between looking after two young Collège age children. I’ll be aiming for neuf sur dix! As for schools, well …that’s a whole different topic!

Much appreciated.

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