Could the French fondness for a single job for life be giving away to a new spirit of entrepreneurialism? The number of new private businesses launched in France is soaring. June saw an all-time record, and figures in July were only slightly off that pace. French officials estimate that by the end of 2009 France will be about half a million new firms better off. In 2008 just 328,000 small companies were created, and in 2007 the figure was 321,000.It's not all good news however:
The motor driving all that bustling start-up action is an innovation known as auto-entrepreneur, a government scheme introduced in January to help would-be bosses bypass the formidable process of founding a small business. The scheme cuts through the jungle of administrative red tape usually required to launch a company, and dramatically lightens the heavy taxes and social charges companies pay.
If business starts booming, neophyte owners who take on employees have to register under the normal labor regime, which means assuming the taxes and salary-linked social charges that prove so dissuasive to many would-be entrepreneurs in the first place.Still, it's a start.