While for decades we have regularly seen people marching in the streets to demand more purchasing power, we have to face the facts: it is hardly increasing*. Alongside this, healthcare in France is increasingly less reimbursed**, the pension funding system is increasingly under threat, and the idea of working one’s whole life for the same company has become a curiosity among the younger generations. It is perhaps for these reasons, among other things, that more and more French people want to start their own business.
[45 % des Français sont tentés par l’entrepreneuriat selon un sondage paru en juillet 2020, ndlr] : they realize that, in a modern version of Pascal’s Wager, it is better to count on themselves first and on the government second, because in any case they will be winners.
Because if they move to create a business to improve their situation and bring value to the world, and that behind the government puts favorable measures in place, so much the better!
And if the government does nothing, then at least they will have tried something on their own, which will mechanically increase their chances of success.
The Lean Startup approach
But if creating a business tempts many, it is also terrifying, which probably explains why so few French people who dream of it take action ***. To overcome this fear, there are two good schools of thought in entrepreneurship.
First of all, those who tell you to put yourself in a dangerous situation, that by burning your ships behind you, you will have only two options: win or die, and this will give you enormous motivation.
So those who prefer to take measured risks, using a Lean Startup approach, that is, which tests a minimum viable product under real market conditions, with a minimal investment of time, energy and resources. . And if possible by keeping a stable source of income on the side until the idea is proven.
Of these two approaches, it’s clearly the last one I recommend: it’s the one I relied on to drop out of school at 18 to set up my first company, then set up another online company and sell the original.
Create a “leisure business”!
There is also a strategy enabled by this approach that is talked about a bit: using it to create not a “full-fledged” business, but just a “leisure business”, ie. an activity that generates additional incomeand which does not have the ambition to replace our main source of income.
Taking this approach has two important advantages:
1. First of all, it greatly removes the fear of starting a business: it is not a matter of “becoming a boss”, but of “launching a profitable part-time project”. This immediately seems more accessible and inherently less risky.
2. If this activity works well, it may very well give you the confidence to give up your work and devote yourself to it, making it a perfect “Lean Startup prototype”, and lead you to a transition like you’ve never had before would never have made it without this initial project.
This is exactly what gave me the confidence to quit school at 18: it was certainly reckless, but I trusted a field experience. Being very familiar with computers, a friend and I had realized that we were regularly approached with problems that seemed insurmountable to people, but which we solved with the snap of a finger. We noticed the few services offered and the poor quality of after-sales service in the stores, and we said to ourselves: “What if we monetized this by offering an in-home computer repair service?”
Test your idea with a few euros
We could have taken the “classic” route, partnered with a support organization and made a preliminary assessment over three years, then requested financing from the bank and got down to business. But it was too heavy: we didn’t know if our idea would workwe still had our studies to do (and our matriculation exams to pass!) and we had no desire to embark on a heavy and complex administrative epic.
So we decided to do a simple field test : Run a classified ad in a local paper and see what happens. At worst we would have lost the equivalent of 5 euros each, not enough to whip a cat. The result exceeded all our expectations: for an initial investment of 10 euros, we achieved 760 euros in sales in one month! For teenagers used to having 8 euros a week in pocket money, it was unbelievable.
And I had gone to the customers, I had seen that I could really help them, that they were satisfied and that they had given me the money directly from hand to hand. That’s what gave me the confidence to leave school so young, and creating a business that lasted ten years and that I resold for a handsome sum to devote myself to an even more profitable and exciting business.
Dare to take action
And this is exactly the approach that Chris Guillebeau, famous American blogger, offers you: create a part-time “leisure business”.along with what you already do, with minimal risk and the potential to do something you really enjoy!
I remember when I discovered The Art of Non Conformity, Chris’s blog, many years ago: I immediately loved the author’s honest and natural tone, the quality of his articles and the design of his blog. I even drew a quote from it, which I then used many times with my readers and my students, and which I share with you again here: “There is a much smaller gap between ignorance and knowledge than between knowledge and action” – Chris Guillebeau.
Reading his book [Side business, paru aux éditons Alisio, ndlr]will you build a bridge between ignorance and knowledge. It is then up to you to act to cross the second chasmusing Chris’ many review tactics and strategies.
* “The French economy – Accounts and files – Insee”, 2018, and “Increasing purchasing power: the eternal nuance between the numbers and emotions of the French”, Le Monde, 2019. ** Implementation of the care course in 2004 with reduction of coverage in case of non-compliance, one-off contribution of 1 euro introduced in 2005 and 50 øre on medicine in 2008, lump sum of 18 euro for procedures costing 120 euro or more in 2015, compulsory health insurance for employees in 2016, etc. *** “Entrepreneurship, facts and numbers”, Directorate General for Business, 2017.
Olivier Roland is an entrepreneur, speaker and author of the book “Not everyone has had the chance to miss their studies”. This text is the foreword to the book “Side Business. Start your complementary activity in 27 days”, by Chris Guillebeau, published by Alisio, 329 pages, 23 euros.