Starting a company in France – an essential checklist

Starting a company in France can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This essential checklist will walk you through the steps you need to take to get your business up and running in France.

Have you wished to leap of faith and take your business to a country with an international consumer base? Then you may direct your attention towards France, a country with a thriving economy. France is the third-largest economy in Europe and the seventh-largest in the world, with a highly developed infrastructure and a skilled workforce. The country is also a member of the European Union, which gives businesses access to a market of over 500 million people.

In addition, the French government is pro-business and offers several incentives for foreign investors, such as tax breaks and grants. As a result, France is a popular destination for startups and multinationals alike.

This is how you can start a consistent revenue-generating company in France:

Select a Niche

So you’ve decided to start a company in France? But need to learn how to take the first step. Do you have an idea but need the right tools to execute it? Or do you know where to begin but lack an idea of your products? Don’t worry. We have simplified it for you! 

Identify your passion. What are you passionate about? What do you know a lot about? What are you good at? Starting a business in an area you’re passionate about will make the journey more enjoyable and sustainable.

Find a need in the market. What problems do people have that you can solve? What products or services are in high demand? Once you’ve identified a need, you can develop a business idea that addresses it.

Select a niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, focus on a specific niche market that you can dominate. This will make it easier to target your marketing efforts and build a loyal customer base.

Conduct Market Research

Marketing research involves gathering and analyzing data from consumers and competitors to help businesses understand their target audience and their desires. Effective marketing research also evaluates the efficiency of marketing strategies and identifies avenues for growth. It encompasses the entire spectrum of a business’s marketing strategy, from establishing brand awareness to cultivating brand loyalty.

Find Opportunities

Begin by defining the challenge or goal you aim to address. Precise questions can reveal pressing needs or potential opportunities. Queries may focus on converting first-time buyers into repeat customers, addressing sales declines, optimizing pricing, and improving checkout.

Plan your research

Craft a research plan to guide your efforts. The plan’s design depends on budget, data collection methods, and project scope. Primary and secondary research methods are vital components.

Collect your data

Here are some of the most common data collection methods for market research:


    • Surveys: Surveys are a method to gather quantitative data from a large group of people. You can use surveys to ask about people’s demographics, needs and wants, and opinions on your products or services.

    • A/B testing: A/B testing compares two versions of a website or marketing campaign to see which one performs better. This can be a great way to test different marketing strategies and see what resonates best with your target audience.

    • Social media polling: Social media polling is a quick and easy way to get feedback from your target audience. You can use polls to ask questions about their interests, pain points, and thoughts on your products or services.

    • Interviews: Interviews help get qualitative data from people. You can interview in person, over the phone, or via video chat. This is a good way to get people’s more profound insights and opinions on your products or services.

    • Focus groups: Focus groups are a great way to get feedback from a small group. This is an excellent real-time way to get people’s reactions to your products or services.

The best data collection method for you will depend on your specific research goals and budget. Surveys are a good option if you’re looking to gather quantitative data from a large group of people. If you’re looking to test different marketing strategies, then A/B testing is a good option. If you want to get feedback from your target audience on their interests and opinions, then social media polling, interviews, or focus groups are good options.

It’s important to note that only some data collection methods are perfect. You’ll likely need to use various methods to get the most accurate and comprehensive data.

Presenting Findings

After research and analysis, compile key findings into a comprehensive report. Different presentation formats, such as slideshows, illustrated books, videos, or interactive dashboards, can enhance data comprehension and accessibility. The focus should be on understandably conveying information.

Create a detailed Business plan

A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. It is essential for any business, but it is significant for businesses that are seeking funding or partners.

A good business plan should include the following sections:


    • Executive Summary: This is a brief overview of your business, including your mission, products or services, and target market.

    • Company Description: This section details your business, including its history, products or services, and competitive advantage.

    • Market Analysis: This section analyzes your target market, including its size, growth potential, and competition.

    • Products and Services: This section describes your products or services, including their features, benefits, and pricing.

    • Marketing Plan: This section outlines your strategies for promoting your products or services to your target market.

    • Management Team: This section introduces your management team and their qualifications.

    • Financial Plan: This section projects your startup costs, operating expenses, and revenue.

A business plan is optional for some businesses, but it is a valuable tool for businesses seeking funding or partners. It can help you clarify your goals, identify your target market, and develop a strategy for success.

Fund your company

So now you have a great business idea and plan but need more funds to bring it to life? If so, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs face the challenge of funding their businesses. But don’t worry!! There are several ways to fund your business in France, including:

Venture capital: Venture capital firms invest in early-stage businesses with high growth potential.

Angel investors: Angel investors invest their own money in startups.

Government grants: The French government offers several grants to businesses that meet specific criteria.

Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding platforms allow you to raise money from many people.

Bank loans: Banks can provide loans to businesses, but they may be more challenging to obtain than other forms of funding

Choosing the proper legal status is essential for companies planning to operate in a new country like France. Various legal options are available to help businesses select the most suitable structure for their specific needs. To make the best decision, consider factors such as your project’s nature, scope, and the tax implications of each status.

Three Common Legal Status Options:

Limited Liability Company (SARL)

This type of company is ideal for new businesses, including family enterprises or those with 2 or 3 shareholders.

Simplified Limited Company (SAS)

The SAS is a flexible choice, well-suited for more significant projects involving investors and dividend distribution.

Corporation (SA)

An SA is a good fit for ambitious, large-scale entrepreneurial ventures.

You may also want to explore these alternatives for your move:

General Partnerships (SNC) or Professional Partnerships and Economic Interest Groups (GIE): These structures could benefit subsidiaries.

Societas Europaea (SE): This unique status is defined by EU law and applies to all member countries.

Confirming Company Details in France:

The first step entails verifying important information about your organization in France. Start by verifying the name of your business; while it’s not required, it’s advised if you plan to trademark it. Then, briefly summarize your company’s main operation so that the commercial court can issue an activity code and facilitate regulatory compliance checks. 

Appoint directors for your business, keeping in mind that French company law does not restrict shareholders or directors based on their country or place of residence, giving you more flexibility. 

Setting and Transferring Company Capital:

Proceed to verify all company shareholders, including individuals and entities, alongside their respective shares and capital valuation. While a minimum of one shareholder is required, there’s no specified minimum for shares or capital. 

Following this, shareholders should transfer their funds to a share capital account, which calls for the submission of documentation to the commercial courts before official registration.

Drafting Incorporation Documents:

Engage a legal professional to prepare essential company documents, encompassing the Memorandum & Articles of Association, Minutes of the First Board Meeting, Directors Nomination, and Ultimate Beneficiary Owners Declaration, among others. Following this, directors and shareholders must adhere to signature instructions, with electronic signatures generally deemed acceptable.

Submitting the Dossier to the Commercial Court:

Typically conducted online, this step involves submitting your compiled dossier to the commercial court.

Issuing Company Registration Certificate & VAT Number:

Upon accurate documentation submission, the commercial court will swiftly issue the Company Registration Certificate (KBis) containing your Company Registration Number (SIREN number), granting you a Ready to Trade License. Subsequently, the tax office will provide your VAT number within two to three weeks following receipt of the KBis.

Opening a Corporate Bank Account:

Opening a corporate bank account in France is necessary to start a business there. This can be a complex process for non-residents. After successfully creating the account, the company’s capital is freed and put into the selected bank account.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful business in France.

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Final thoughts about France

Thank you for reading this article. You can continue to explore our articles about France in our Blog or access some other articles about French Education and Housing, how to start a Business and Statistics, Finance and Travel Business. If you need services related to company formations, nominee services, banking or payment processing services, please get in touch, and we will introduce you to our trusted partners.