Expat Entrepreneur in Paris: Alexis Niki

Expat Entrepreneur in Paris: Alexis Niki

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Certified Alexander Technique teacher Alexis Niki enjoys helping people who feel “disconnected” either physically or emotionally. Her only complaint? Too many holidays in France.

Name: Alexis Niki
Nationality: American       
City of residence: Paris
Name of company: Balance and Vitality
Date of company launch: 2003

Can you give us a brief description of your business?
I am a certified Alexander Technique teacher. The Alexander Technique helps people become attuned to their patterns of movement, thought, and co-ordination and to learn to change those that are no longer useful. The process can be very empowering.

The Alexander Technique helps anyone who feels “disconnected” either physically (as manifested through back or neck pain, tension, or poor posture) or emotionally (manifested through lack of confidence, stage fright, or  creative blocks).

I’ve been teaching for 12 years. It’s a joy to watch my students shed their aches, pains, and creative blocks and come into themselves.

Sessions are one-on-one, but I give free introductory workshops once a month. I’m also starting other workshops in September.

What do you like about doing business in France?
I teach three days a month at the Orchestre Nationale de Lille, which I find very interesting and rewarding. Musicians and performing artists in the US and the UK have a lot of experience with the Alexander Technique, but it’s less known here in those communities, so it’s fun to feel like I’m helping to open that gateway.

What do you find most frustrating about doing business in France?
The number of holidays. Many students cancel lessons in May because of the long weekends, and summer is very quiet. But the up side is that I get a rest, too!

What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
When I began, the auto-entrepreneur regime was not available. I registered as a profession liberale, which is what my carte de séjour allowed me, and started paying into URSSAF from the start. The biggest hurdle was accepting the cost of doing business in France, and then getting on with it.

How has the economic crisis affected your business?
My business always has ebbs and flows, and my year has seasons. The economic crisis hasn’t changed that at all.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in France?
Investigate the terrain carefully. Find out which professional “regime” is right for you. If you need to, hire a professional to help you. Prevent headaches by accepting the system with its strengths and weaknesses and make sure you have savings set aside to meet your fiscal obligations from the start. That way you’ll have more energy to put toward growing your business.

How does running a business in France compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
My teaching career / running a business has been mostly in France.

Would you like to add anything that we haven’t addressed in the questionnaire?
Being an entrepreneur in France is a great opportunity to practice what I preach. The Alexander Technique is an invaluable tool of adaptation which I find extremely useful for navigating a new social and business environment.


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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