Startups in France: solopreneurs or entrepreneurs?

Continuing the topic of starting and running own business in France…  Last night I was invited to a networking event of French entrepreneurs at one of the local town halls of Paris.  Dozens and dozens of dynamic businessmen and businesswomen came to mingle and exchange ideas . Most of them had recently started their own projects or enterprises. Quite a few launched only a few months ago. So, what the landscape of French startups is like these days?  If you’re – like some of my clients who’re frustrated mid-career professionals or senior executives – seriously contemplating to start your own business, the statistics below might be of interest.

1. In France, a startup entrepreneur tends be in the age basket between 35 and 42 years old, with a BAC+2 level of education. Obviously, the experience, skills and expertise acquired in the first career can be  an asset which drives business success.

2. According to the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (L’Insee), 550,000 new businesses were launched in France in 2012 – the same as in 2011. ( As you might know, the startup rates in France were boosted in 2009 and 2010 by new legislation supporting auto-entrepreneurs.)

3. The sectors which are seeing an increase in new startups are information and communications, education, health and social enterprise. Fewer start-ups are being created in real estate, finance and insurance.

4. The majority of new start-ups (95%) do not have any employees – a reflection of the increase in number of auto-entrepreneurs in recent years. Only 12 percent of all start-ups hire more than a few employees. (No surprises here, we all know the story of social security taxes in France.)

5. In 2012, 38 percent of all startups were launched by women, an increase from 34 percent of women-run businesses in 2010.

6. In France, you need 5 days and 7 procedures to launch your startup, while in Germany the same process requires 15 days and 9 procedures.  Apparently (according to the French magazine Management), France is the 8th least restrictive country in the world when it comes to small enterprise creation – well behind the US and South Korea but above Germany and Japan.

What has been your experience in relation to the above?

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