Small Business Briefing

France risks exodus of wealthy owners

The Globe and Mail

An Air France aircraft is seen on the tarmac at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, on March 30, 2012. (Fabrice Dimier/© 2012 Bloomberg Finance LP, All Right Reserved.)

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Say au revoir to France?

France may be the world's fifth-richest country and home to some of the globe's wealthiest people, but a story from Bloomberg argues it doesn’t celebrate its affluent.

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President-elect Francois Hollande, a Socialist who once said “I don’t like the rich,” plans to slap a 75-per-cent tax on citizens with an income of more than 1 million euros ($1.4 million). His stance has successful entrepreneurs in France contemplating a move, and European rivals are welcoming them.

“Bienvenue a Londres,” or "Welcome to London," the city's mayor, Boris Johnson, said in January. According to Bloomberg, Switzerland and Belgium have made similar overtures.

Jeremie Le Febvre, 30-year-old founder of private equity marketing-services firm TBG Capital Advisors, said he plans to move to Singapore from Paris this year, not only due to the tax threat, but because Mr. Hollande's victory speaks volumes about how wealth is viewed in France.

"Even if it’s utopian," he told Bloomberg, "I need to believe for me and my descendants that the sky is the limit.”

Julien Berckmans, a real estate agent at Brussels-based Best Home Consult, said he took five calls from French citizens seeking to buy property after the defeat of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy on May 6. Geneva-based realtor Abdallah Chatila, who specializes in properties worth more than 3 million euros, said he received several inquiries from lawyers on behalf of French clients. And real estate firm Knight Frank LLP added that Mr. Hollande’s tax announcement triggered a 30-per-cent spike in searches from France for prime properties in wealthy London neighbourhoods such as South Kensington and Chelsea.

Crowdfunding site planned for Canada

Ottawa entrepreneur Paul Dombowsky wants to get into the crowdfunding game, which uses the web to pair investors with small businesses, Global TV Edmonton reports on its website. The CEO of IdeaVibes risks running afoul of Canadian securities laws because until a company files a prospectus, backers generally have to be family, friends or accredited investors with a strong enough financial position to withstand risks and losses. Crowdfunding could open inexperienced investors to fraudsters, or people could end up investing more than they can afford on ventures they know little about. Mr. Dombowsky says it’s time to let investors decide. “It’s very much a risky endeavour to put money into a startup," he explains in the story. "You have to be willing to lose money right away.” His site, expected to launch by July, will require entrepreneurs to disclose basic information about their companies and products, and to report regularly on what they are doing with invested funds. If they don’t, the entrepreneur will be publicly blacklisted.

The dirty dozen

Looking to start a small business in the United States, or sell into it? Cross these 12 states off your list. The Washington Post, on the heels of a new report from Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation, ranked the most unfriendly locations for entrepreneurs. Maine, Ohio, New Jersey and Illinois hit rock bottom, all of them getting a D+ on the friendliness grade.

Small Business person of the year

The Small Business Council of America has recognized MicroTech president and CEO Tony Jimenez as its small business person of the year.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Improve financial management practices

Harvard Business School has announced a new Executive Education program called Leading Your Small Business Through Its Lifecycle, which runs from June 24 to 27, on the school's campus. Designed for leaders of small businesses at various stages of their company life cycles, the course "will empower participants to better implement financial management best practices for their firms." It's ideally suited to owners and other financial decision makers in smaller private companies with annual sales up to $5 million (U.S.), not those funded by venture capital or public markets. Cost is $7,500.

Franchise conference in Vancouver

Dreaming about owning your own business, but don't know where to begin? You might want to check out the Business, Franchise & Investment EXPO and Conference in Vancouver, where you will have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with exhibitors offering established businesses for sale, franchises and investment opportunities. The show is designed for entrepreneurs and investors seeking new opportunities at all investment levels. Runs May 26 and 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with tickets available here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Gymnastics a go-go

The founder and owner of Fredericton-based Go-Go Gymnastics Inc. operates a mobile gymnastics company. It now has three mobile units in operation from New Brunswick’s main urban centres – Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton – that cover the towns and cities within driving distance, 16 places in total. Go-Go has about 80 employees who teach recreational gymnastics to youth that might not otherwise get the opportunity.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Luxury for the recession-weary

Women who want a little hit of pampering and glamour but don’t want to pay a fortune for it are the target audience for Blo Blow Dry Bar, an entrant into Canada’s $4.5-billion market for personal-care services, profiled in this story from December, 2011. It’s a hyper-charged and rapidly shifting market, with day spas, nail and makeup bars, and salons offering everything from men’s facials to braids-only weaves, all competing for recession-weary customers and their limited discretionary dollars.

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