A business plan should include the following:
- An outline or overview of your business;
- A description of the person or people who are to run the business, including their qualifications, skills, experience and goals;
- A description of your product(s) or service(s) and how they’re to be provided A market study, including relevant trends, actual or potential demand, current or possible future opportunities and a description of existing and potential competition;
- Your commercial strategy, i.e. your intended market positioning, pricing policy, marketing plan, methods of communication, etc.
- A financial statement including initial capital, sources of additional funding, likely profit margins, break-even point and a three-year cash-flow forecast.
Attached to the plan should be all relevant documentation, such as written confirmation of financial support, letters of recommendation, expert opinions and necessary permissions or licences.
The location for a business is even more important than the location for a home. For example, you may need access to the motorway or TGV network, or to be located in a popular tourist area or near local attractions. Local plans regarding communications, industry and major building developments, e.g. housing complexes and new shopping centres, may also be important. Plans regarding new motorways and rail links are normally available from local town halls.
However, town halls and mairies aren’t always willing to give information about local plans to ‘strangers’, and local small business associations (run by the town, canton or department) are generally a better source. If your French is up to it, you can simply attend town council meetings to find out what issues are being discussed or even ask questions!
If your business will rely on passing trade (e.g. a restaurant or shop), it’s obviously imperative to assess the suitability of the location before buying or renting premises. You should visit the location at different times of day and, if not at different times of year (which may not be possible), at least in different weather. Are enough of the right type of people passing the premises to provide a clientele. Obviously, if the business is highly specialised (e.g. a shop selling foreign food), location may be less critical, although you may have to work harder to develop a clientele.
A business that doesn’t rely on passing trade (e.g. a language school or manufacturing unit) can, in theory, be anywhere and it may be pleasant to work out in the country or halfway up a mountain, but it must still be easily accessible (for customers, deliveries, etc.) and preferably near to amenities such as banks and post offices – after all, you don’t want to have a 20-minute drive every time you must send a parcel or withdraw money!
This article is an extract from Making a living in France.
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