Expat Entrepreneur in Megeve: Mike Beaudet
Locals told Mike Beaudet he won’t last beyond five years in the skiing business. The American expat proved them wrong with determination and hard work.
Name: Mike Beaudet aka Megeve Mike
City of residence: Megeve the French Alps
Name of company: Ski Pros Megeve
Date of company launch: 2001
Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going.
Ski Pros Megeve - The Megeve English Ski School comprises of high-level independent ski instructors all of whom are certified by the French Government’s National School (L’ENSA), PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) and or, British Ski Instructors Association. We all speak English and native French.
Most of our clients are Anglo Saxons from the world over. We are located one hour from Geneva International Airport and as such are very easy to reach for European expats. We often fly to other countries to heli-ski or to other ski areas at our clients’ request. We are also well placed for corporate group and incentive travel events. We are also official members of the Megeve tourism office.
What do you like about doing business in France?
At first it may seem daunting to set up business in France as the paper work can be a struggle. At other times, the people that you talk to may not be as helpful as they could be. Don’t let this idea get in your way!
However once you get past that and doing your business as you know how, all moves right along. I highly recommend that one uses a “good accountant”, he/she can be a source of information more than just satisfy your accounting needs.
What do you find most frustrating about doing business in France?
Those that portray themselves as legal (but are in fact not certified) to teach skiing and use the internet and social media methods to promote their services to the uninformed public. They are also not paying French taxes, URSSAF, as a result there is not a “level playing field”.
What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
The attitude of the established ski schools which considered that “if we were not with them we were against them”. This was quickly remedied by hard work, persistence and a better way to teach and take care of the needs of our clients.
How has the economic crisis affected your business?
None at all. We have increased our client base and grown.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your country of residence?
Know your market. Know your competitors. Never get down even if there is intimidation or harassment. Don’t look for applause; just always stay on top of your business. Insist on joining the local tourist board or office and the business directory.
How does running a business in France compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
I had no difficulty in establishing myself in my business. Indeed much less than had I tried to do the same in the US. I had all the authorisations and diplomas requisite to doing so. If you are in possession of all the diplomas, register with the government ministry, file with URSSAF and pay taxes and then there will be no problem.
The fact that I am bilingual native French and American was most helpful. Friendly, courteous and very professional is a must.
If there was a difficulty encountered, it was from a “few locals” who could not tolerate that I was encroaching on their work place. I was even told by one that “in five years I would no longer be around”! Well, needless to say it is 11 years later and doing better than ever.
Would you like to add anything?
I think that, like anywhere, if one listens to his clients’ needs and provides what the client is looking for and satisfies that need, then wherever one is located with his business it will succeed. Never take anything for granted. Be honest and maintain a great reputation.
In this new series of Expatica interviews, we invite expat entrepreneurs to share their experiences of setting up and running their businesses in France. If you too would like to add your voice, send an email with 'Please send me an Expat Entrepreneur in France questionnaire' in the subject line to editorFR@expatica.com.
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