In America we like to say that small business is the engine that drives the economy, but in France, not so much. That conventional axiom however has been turned on its head. In January, the French government launched a program called auto-entrepreneur, to help entrepreneurs cut through the traditionally complicated bureaucratic process of starting a small business – as well as easing up on the heavy taxes and social charges usually required. To date, the program is a success, the government reports that the number of new privately owned start-ups established in June set a record, boosted in large part to the auto-entrepreneur program. By the end of this year, the government says that France is on track to see 500,000 new small businesses launched compared to 328,000 in 2008 and 321,000 in 2007.
On the surface the program seems an innovative injection into a collapsed economy. A report in Time discusses the pros and cons of auto-entrepreneur’s success, which is well worth a look. In March President Obama unveiled a stimulus plan to help spur the recovery of small business in this country. Yet, one of the consistent concerns of economists and entrepreneurs is the series of regulations placed on small business owners that strangle their ability to establish new outfits and grow. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to look across the Atlantic for some news ways to lift up American-style entrepreneurship.