Expat Entrepreneur in Paris: Heather Jerue

Expat Entrepreneur in Paris: Heather Jerue

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While the director of Rendez-vous in Paris appreciates the French government's efforts to help entrepreneurs start their business, she can't say the same about the high VAT especially when it upsets her international clients.

Name: Heather Jerue
Nationality: American
City of residence: Paris
Name of company: Rendez-vous in Paris 
Date of company launch: early 2009

Give us a brief description of your business and how it is going.

Rendez-vous in Paris’s mission is to plan and coordinate unforgettable weddings & events in France.

Having good working relationships with the best châteaux & hotels and the most exclusive, sophisticated venues in Paris has allowed us to create individualised ceremonies and celebrations for discerning couples in France.

We receive a lot of requests from around the world. However destination weddings (weddings away from one’s home town) are by nature smaller as many potential guests often can’t afford the travel & lodging costs associated. Therefore a lot of our weddings tend to be more intimate (6-75 guests).

Also, because of the current economy, many of the requests we receive are for smaller budget weddings. Another factor is the exchange rate. The strength of the euro makes a wedding in Paris more expensive for those outside the European Union.

That being said, the pull of romantic Paris, and historic France is enough to bring many from afar.
What do you like about doing business in France?
Working in Paris is enjoyable because I get to meet many people who come from all over the world. A metropolis, Paris is a destination, or stopover, of choice.

Plus, because of the economy, the French government has put in quite a bit of effort towards entrepreneurs wishing to start a business, and create their own job opportunities in France. The Pole Emploi has many training programmes in all areas of business creation & development, and provides aide programmes that assist start-ups.

What do you find most frustrating about doing business in France?
The paperwork necessary for a SARL (LLC type corporation) & charges sociales or government charges. Even with all the aide programmes, companies have to pay quite a bit back to the government for the benefits we receive.

Also, France’s VAT has been a big pain. Having clients from many different countries, the 19.6 percent VAT can sometimes be an unhappy surprise for potential clients.

What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
The initial hurdle was deciding on a business statute (SARL, Auto-entrepreneur...) I spoke with people from the Chamber of Commerce, accountants and lawyers, intent on making the right choice.

Upon deciding on an SARL, I admit the paperwork seemed unending, and cost of setting up an SARL is not negligible for small business owners. However, choosing the best legal statute for your type of company is what will let you conduct business in the most advantageous way for you.

How has the economic crisis affected your business?
Clients want the same unforgettable events on a lower budget, so we’ve had to become creative. Also, we’ve seen fewer clients from North America, where the dollar’s value is not always favourable.

On the other hand, the crisis has brought in many employment candidates. With so many people looking for work, I receive CVs on a daily basis for CDI, CDD and internships. It’s nice to have so many candidates to choose from!

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in France?
Request the assistance of an established accountant who can take care of the tedious paperwork needed to start your company. Drawing on their knowledge of government programmes, he or she should also be able to assist you in finding financial aide and help you save money.

How does running a business in France compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
Setting up (and closing) an LLC is a lot simpler in the US, and a lot less costly! When I initially opened this company in the States, I only had to spend USD 50 (EUR 38) and filled out one packet of paperwork. My company’s taxes were included on my personal income form, and I was charged at a minimal rate, as opposed to the higher French tax rates.

Also bank accounts come with more advantages in the US (besides their longer business hours), such as little or no monthly fees, and simplified processes for accepting various methods of payment (especially credit cards - all types). In France, I have to go through paypal, or rent a “machine à carte bleu” to be able to receive payments via Visa/Mastercard.


In this new series of Expatica interviews, we invite expat entrepreneurs to share their experiences of setting up and running their businesses in France. Besides her business, Heather Jerue is also a networking expert on Expatica. 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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