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French self-employed: far from becoming wealthy

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9244€. This is the average turnover of a French self-employed under the “auto entrepreneur” status. Although this revenue increased between 2001 (8316e) and 2012 (9244€) those figures hide another reality: almost 75% of self-employed have declared revenues of less than 3000€ (per year!) and only 60,000 out of the 750,000 (i.e. 8%) registered self-employed declared revenues of more than 20,000€.

Although taxes and social contributions under the “auto entrepreneur” status are relatively low, one can still question the motivation of individuals to start an activity and earn so little money. For most of them it will remain a complementary revenue. No more no less. The state therefore failed to give people the motivation to become entrepreneur with this status. They will at best make a few thousands besides their official work but will most probably never create a limited company and will never create jobs. This is pity. French “auto entrepreneurs” could indeed very well use their flexible status to test their business idea under real conditions. This status, almost similar to the e-sprl status in Belgium (the latter however failed to attract candidates), offers the advantage to be very inexpensive and easy to start.


Advice your market research and your business plan (be it in Brussels, Belgium or elsewhere)

Market research remains usually a paper-and-ink exercise. It’s not necessarily theoretical (many people also gather field data) but would-be entrepreneurs could go a step beyond. We often tell would-be entrepreneurs that the best test for their business idea is to try to sell it; even if the product or service doesn’t exist yet. Before you succeed in selling one unit you’ll be turned down by many prospects. This is the best test you can do and you’ll learn very quickly how to improve what you intend to sell and how you intend to sell it.

Yet you can go even beyond that. Once your product is ready, and if your business doesn’t require that you invest upfront large sums of money, you may want to use the flexible status similar to the “auto entrepreneur” one in France. That way you really have to possibility to sell and get revenues and collect the first Euros that will help fuel the growth of your limited company later.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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