Jackie was a project manager in New England who dreamed of moving to France, but her passion wasn’t project management. It was wine. Although she had studied oenology in prestigious programs in Europe and in the US, virtually all of her experience was merely for fun. She had never worked in the wine industry, nor had she had any formal work experience in a related field.
What she lacked in formal experience and confidence, she made up with passion and enthusiasm, and she was committed to making her move happen from our very first call. As we worked together and discussed the best way for her to bring her dream of living in France to life, we hotly debated the two main possibilities. We could either put together a dull but solid application for her to be a freelance project manager, which would enable her to continue her existing projects while working virtually and to find clients in Europe who needed a bilingual team member. Or, she could take the leap into pursuing her passion, and put together a proposal for a wine-based business.
After going back and forth several times on the premise of her project proposal, Jackie ultimately decided that she was committed to using the opportunity of her move to France to create something totally new and different for herself, including a job she was excited and passionate about. She understood that she’d be facing not only the administrative challenges of moving to France, but also of figuring out how to set the course and navigate her new chosen career path. Embarking on a brand-new business idea outside of her comfort zone, as part of an international move, was a major leap of faith. She knew she’d have to build her business idea and have some income during the first year in order to be able to renew her visa, so we needed to create a solid action plan.
As we developed the business plan, I explained the other challenges that we would face together as we established the business. She’d have to register multiple business activities, including a reselling activity, and get the appropriate licenses for the wine she’d provide to her customers. We developed several aspects of the business, from reselling wine from small local producers, to wine tours, to gift baskets including wine that small businesses and AirBnbs could provide to their guests or customers. The logistics of developing her business would be complex, but it enabled her to forge relationships with French wineries, to try lots of different wines, and to share that love of locally produced French wines with tourists and other French businesses.
When her visa was approved and it came time to actually register the business in Paris, there were challenges galore. We went to the préfecture’s alcohol licensing bureau several times to get the right forms filed and to understand the regulations. We created the business registration for both a tourism and tour activity, and for a wine reselling activity. We double- and triple-checked the regulations to ensure that the ways in which she wanted to serve her clients (providing picnic baskets with wine and doing wine tours and tastings) were authorized. And she began to find clients for her fledgling business.
For this particular business type and project, there were lots of moving parts and authorizations she needed in order to be able to operate the business legally and successfully. Jackie knew she’d face many challenges while creating her new business in a different industry, and understood that there was a potentially overwhelming number of administrative tasks involved with the type of business she wanted to operate. But, her passion for her project and her eagerness to prove herself enabled her to get a visa and to start strong.