Article from The French Connexion, June 2008
Two sisters start two businesses
Sisters Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly have set up two businesses together in France.
Former French teacher and air hostess Suzanne, 35, got the idea for a property business six years ago. The pair branched out this year to start a second business doing regional tours.
How long have you been in business?
I started in the property business in 2000 when I worked with a real estate agency in Perpignan, learning the ropes for two years. In 2002, I set up business with my sister Karen offering a property-finding service http://www.connexionfrance.com/www.bidsinfrance.com to English speakers. This year we have diversified and our new sister company http://www.connexionfrance.com/www.thefrenchtourco.com provides tours and transfers in the Perpignan area.
Why did you choose to do it?
In 2000, I was happily employed by the Amir of Qatar and flying first class on his private jets around the world as one of his flight attendants. While rollerblading on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice one day, I fell and broke my wrist and so had to find another job as I was unable to fly. While recuperating in France, I spotted a niche in the market to help English-speakers purchase property - at the time, there was nobody else doing this in the Perpignan area and the business took off.
For the tours, we had a huge clientelle in the area and they were always asking us about discovering the region. We just recognised another area of business that complimented our own. We were kind of doing that job for free for a lot of people. We can show people places they wouldn’t get to see - little places and views. A lot of people who take the tours fall in love with the area and think about living here so then we can find property for them.
What type of business are you and how much did it cost to set up?
For the property business we were both set up as agent commercial indépendant. The costs were minimal - about €150 to register with the chamber of commerce. The French Tour Co is a registered SARL - my sister and business partner is an accountant so we did not have to employ a professional to help us set it up.
What was your expected income?
The French Tour Co is a completely new business so we have no idea what our turnover will be. We've bought a minibus and have other vehicles on our fleet, including a convertible - this year we will be happy to break even.
What were the hurdles?
The social charges were a huge shock to us, it's only really in year three they begin to kick in, in earnest.
What would you have done differently?
We were overly enthusiastic at the beginning and probably didn't do enough research into the whole social charges/taxation system. I would recommend to everyone if they are getting into business to hire a good local accountant and get sound financial advice before launching into the unknown.
See article here : http://www.connexionfrance.com/expatriate-news-article.php?art=198