Expanding your business abroad is a lengthy, complex process. It involves establishing the right partnerships, understanding a new set of customers (and rules to play by), as well as adapting your product to new linguistic and cultural standards.
But with the right resources, the right talent and a strong support system, it’s possible and it can bring in extraordinary returns.
If you’ve got France in mind as a potential target location, you might be onto something. In this post, we’ll go over 8 reasons why France might be just the right place for you.
According to the International Monetary Fund, France is the world’s seventh-largest economy, amassing a GDP of $2,762 billion. And it’s within a very prosperous zone, the Euro Zone
Since France is a member of the European Union, part of the process you’ll have to undergo to establish your business and adapt your product to regulatory standards isn’t exclusive to France: It’s common across the EU.
Establishing an office in Paris, one of the most visited and culturally influential cities on an international scale could be a great first step to expanding your business across this region. Not only due to the regulatory commonalities but also due to how well-connected Paris is with other economic centers — this applies to transportation as well as to the social.
Out of the top 500 companies worldwide, Paris is home to 27. And, in 2018, Paris-based venture capitalists raised an accumulated total of €3.6 billion. Considering these numbers, Paris is not only one of the leading economic centers worldwide, but also the VC capital of the European Union.
A modern legal system that’s light on bureaucracy
France’s labor regulations are modern, growth-focused and ethical. A booklet for foreign entrepreneurs, published by the French government, shows a versatile, human-focused approach to regulation.
Unnecessary procedures have been synthesized, legislation and relevant actors are clear to all parties involved. This regulatory sensitivity comes with clear should be seen as part of a trend towards reducing the workload of the judicial system.
A wide variety of possible contracts and work regimes are recognized as fully valid, allowing entrepreneurs more versatility to structure their business — and allowing employees more versatility to develop their careers.
In the French workplace, issues such as employee retention, talent development, and health & safety are put to the forefront, and the relationship between employees, their representatives, and employers is built to be constructive and collaborative.
The World Bank agrees
France’s regulatory fosters and enables the establishment and growth of innovative businesses. According to the Doing Business 2019 report from the World Bank, out of 190 countries, France is the 32nd with the best incentive regulation for businesses.
Equality between foreign and indigenous businesses
In France, there is no regulatory distinction between indigenous and foreign companies. Foreign companies can acquire native companies, property, create individual legal entities and access financial backing under the same conditions as their native counterparts.
International Leader in Research & Development
According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2018, France is the 6th biggest investor in research and development on a global scale. France spends 2.2% of its annual GDP on technological innovation, focusing especially in areas such as:
- Aircraft and spacecraft manufacturing
- IT & information services
- Biotech & environmental technologies
To learn more about how the French government is supporting innovators, check out this page on the Innovation & Research act.
A Highly Trained & Productive Workforce
No business can succeed without the right people. In France, you’d have to make a conscious effort not to find them.
France spends %% of its GDP on education. Almost half of the population aged 25–34, and 33.5% of the population aged 25–64 have had higher education.
It’s also worth noticing that, according to a 2017 Conference Board report, France is the 7th world leader in productivity.
You're not alone
As Emmanuel Macron said last year, at the World Economic Forum’s yearly gathering in Davos, “France is back”. In 2017, foreign funds contributed to the creation of more than 26 thousand jobs.
With Canadian agricultural leader Premier Tech and German giant Bosch investing and investing in France, the idea of expanding to France might be profitable, but it’s not new.
As Jean Belanger, president of Premier Tech said in an interview:
“France is at the heart of our European strategy. Beyond the common language, France has a number of assets: the size of its domestic market for our activities, a well-structured regulatory environment surrounding public sanitation, but also a number of government support for R&D and employee training. The government also encourages companies to settle in rural areas.”
There’s no denying that, as Belanger points out, a Canadian business with a francophone staff finds expanding to France particularly easy.
With the UK as one of France’s leading business partners, most French businesspeople have a certain level of English fluency. This doesn’t mean that you should conduct business in English. You’ll probably need the aid of an interpreter, as well as the help of an experienced third-party that can adapt your brand message, your website, and your product to the culture you’re expanding to. That process, localization, is key to doing business abroad.
This might seem a little daunting: But don’t worry, as we saw above, France is also rooting for the little guy, putting out resources, creating incentive programs and wholeheartedly welcoming foreign companies of all sizes, from all industries, wherever they’re from.
And with a great product and a team of linguists and marketers supporting your operations, not only will you be in great company, but bound to succeed.