Entrepreneur is a French Word

Based on so many headlines I’ve read lately, you’d never know that entrepreneur is a French word. Case in point: “France and the Euro: the Time Bomb at the Heart of Europe” in The Economist, and “Young and Educated Find Employment Elusive in France” in The NYTimes, and the large capital gains tax on entrepreneurs (thankfully removed due to pressure from the Geonpi “pigeon” movement) as covered – in English – by The Rude Baguette. Sometimes I worry the best and most innovative talent – those willing to think differently – are all going to leave France where the processes often complicate things on top of a less than ideal economic situation. Then I read articles such as “A Freelance Economy Can Be Good for Workers: Let’s Make it Better” in The Atlantic that give me hope again that freelancers and entrepreneurs are the wave of the future – anywhere. (Especially given the upcoming complete launch of Studio/Practice, a curated library of tips and tools for creative freelancers + small businesses that I’ve been creating with Lauren O’Neill). If anything, times are changing.

Recently Aussie Katia Grimmer-Laversanne interviewed me for The France Project, a weekly podcast where she explores a different topic and perspectives relating to life in France. Although my episode (No.7) – shared with bag designer Kasia Dietz – was about inspiration, I realized given my own situation in France that inspiration can’t exist for me without a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit (it’s how I’m able to stay here legally after all). As soon as Katia got me talking, she had me making connections about my life in France that I had never considered before. Half way through I got real feisty, and you can start to understand many of my frustrations with France and my relationship with bureaucracy. I’ve been blessed by many French friends who continually inspire me and who also have opted for the freelance road-less traveled here, and I know that they – as true French women – share many of the same frustrations. However, through these challenges I face, I also think it’s helped shape who I am and what I’m doing in life, and in France.

It was an incredible opportunity to get to chat with Katia about this topic, and I hope you can find some time for a listen (even if you’re multi-tasking, put it on in the background – I’ve recently fallen in love with podcasts for this reason). You can listen to the episode I’m featured in here (I’m in part 2, around 36 minutes), and past episodes here.


  • I had that exact same feeling when I read the Economist article. I have my own small business abroad and I have been toying with the idea of starting something in France but time and time again, the bureaucracy just puts me off. I also hear more horror stories than success stories in our generation re: starting new businesses so I think I just put it aside entirely. But now maybe I will give it a second thought! Am going to sit down with a glass of wine later this week and go through your links and really listen. Maybe life in Paris in 2013 will be different for me after all. :)

    Thank you for sharing such great resources!



  • Milsters, don’t put aside an idea because of bureaucracy. Just do your homework! Talk to as many people as you can, and try to find trusted professionals (ie. accountant) who can help you understand the statuses here.

  • I loved hearing about your take on this, Anne. So inspiring and it’s incredible what certain questions can bring you to discover about yourself. It really is a shame that being creative and stepping outside the box can be so tough here. I sure hope that not all the creative minds leave this beautifully charming city…

    P.S. I would love to walk every street in Paris with you!

  • Thanks, Meg! The interesting thing too though is that many of the hurdles I face are faced by the French as well. Would love to see processes streamlined and better communicated to let more of these entrepreneurs to really focus their energies. It all goes to building the economy…. So many things I see and experience don’t surprise me in the least that the economy crashed.


  • That was an interesting interview, and thanks for your frank opinions on what’s going on here in France. Even being married to an EU citizen, and having been an 11 year resident of another EU country (Irelande) it is a challenge for me to get started on my small business since we moved here in May, as after applying in July I still don’t have my Carte de Sejour! I do hope that Hollande changes his mind on auto- entrepreneur, but on verra. We knew the challenges in advance and still chose to live here in hope that we can succeed, so your story is helpful and inspiring.

  • Puppyfur, I have to admit that if I knew everything I knew now I probably wouldn’t have survived! 2 Augusts ago I had to write a 50-page biz plan in French and collect a couple dozen documents that don’t exist for me only to find out that the carte de séjour I was applying for had to be renewed EVERY THREE MONTHS!?! (This was not at all clear going into it). But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Use the time now to come up with a strategy, business plan, do your homework, explore social media and make contacts. Sometimes you just need to dive in!

  • Wonderful interview, very inspiring! I think one of the keys to making it as an entrepreneur or freelancer here in France is the bubble of friends who also do similar work that you talked about. As an artist and auto-entrepreneur, I have lots of friends who are actors, musicians, freelancers or designers and we help each other out with tips or just moral support. Also, the French just take the bureaucracy in stride, they are so used to it, even though it is shocking to Americans. Your idea of communicating better, streamlining some of the process of creating and running a business seems a very good one to me but the French are a bit slow to change.

  • Thanks so much for your kind words, Laura! I think you’re spot on about having the creative community surrounding you as a key factor in survival.

    In a comment my dad made the other day, I was reminded that someone once told me that the French economy wasn’t in the complete pits because they French are less likely to take major risks (ironic given definition of entrepreneur). I think however that blogs, facebook and general interconnectivity is helping push the envelope…. Another creative illustrator friend (French) the other day said why is it that the only people really trying to do something are those who have escaped to NYC for some bit of their life?

    I love this topic!

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