Setting up a business: how to find competitors

Hi everyone

I'm writing a business plan (prematurely, as I'm not ready to start the business - but writing it is going to help me prepare, of course).

I need to find out who my competitors will be.

It sounds silly, but I don't know how to find out who they are! I've started searching and will put the answer up here if and when I find it, but in the meantime, does anyone else have any ideas where to start?

If I want to start, for example, a gite business, where would I go to find out how many other gites are registered in my department?



Hi Emily

i have my own buisness since 10 years and employ 4 people. i started with nothing and not a penny. This was my second attempt at setting up a buisness, the first one failed as i was not prepared and shut my eyes and hoped for the best.

You do need to be innovative PERMANENTLY, no matter what the buisness may be. but i think that effectively a buisness plan really helps to sort all this out. as previously mentioned "la boutique de gestion" will help you do that, its normally a weeks course, which really makes you sit down and make that buisness plan, how to approach a bank, find out who your clients are etc etc ETC(they said that my buisness wouldnt work though) la chambre de metiers/commerce also runs a course which is obligatoire, when starting a buisness, but is much less informative.

there is really nothing better than feeling convinced that you project will work. then you can convince others.

good luck

Thanks Andrew, shame it's CA we're talking not profit:-) Good thing though is that my standing charges are fairly static so an increase in CA will produce a higher amount of profit.

Best of luck with all your decisions too.

Hi Emily, haven't spoken for a while as I'm up to my eyes in plans and changes, just wanted to agree with Tracy - some very sound and down to earth words as ever. You need to rather machiavelian in France at times...!

and good luck Tracy, good figures you're talking about there and if you can get it up to the 32k mark you'll be doing very well, bonne chance ;-)

Hi Emily,

You have to get out of this 'I'm not French, I'm not male' thinking. It is possible to have a job in France, I've had several through various avenues. My last job I found at the age of 42, after conge maternite, my kids were aged just 15 months and 3 years old but I still got the job (after they asked me what my childcare arrangements were and if I was planning on having any more children - hah)!

I have just quit this CDI four years later to run my own business, last year I had a CA of 20,000euros - this year I plan to take it to the max of 32,000 then change regime for next year. If it doesn't work, I'll get another job, even though I will be 47, non French, not degree educated, can't write in French for toffee and a mum of small kids. There's always a job somewhere. You will find the right thing if you start thinking about what you can do, not what you can't do!

Start writing yourself a list of all your positive skills and attributes to boost your confidence. Put them on here and people will help as you well know, it's not advertising until you actually have a business. Go for it, you can do it

Thank you Shirley, a bit surprising when you consider what time I wrote it at -3am!

Hi Emily,

There are many sucessful, non French, business women here in France, just take a look at this site to start with! But yes, it is difficult, for men too.

You may be right, with few direct business qualifications or experience of inward investment you may struggle with the advice you've been given. Many of the great business ideas are the simple ones that solve a problem (hope I'm not sounding TOO holier than thou (and if I am sorry!)). Also, general wisdom states that if your business is doing something you enjoy, it won't feel like quite so much hard work. Perhaps you might like to think about what you like doing, chances are you may be good at this, and then ask yourself if this solves anyone elses problems.

You say you are more of an 'employee', do you know that your skills aren't in demand in your area? You suggest that the bilan man thought not, but maybe relook at what you can do, what transferable skills you have, your previous experience, pop it all together and write to local businesses and simply let them know you are around. Whilst businesses are struggling at the moment, you never know, they may need what you offer, even if it is for a short period.

I hope you find what you are looking for, good luck.


If you want to find out who your competitors are and what they're offering, look on

Good luck!

Great reply Peter.

Be innovative Emily, like SFN as it is slightly different to other forums and sites. Yes you need the basics but also something that makes you stand out form the crowd.

Hello Emily. If is gites you simply go to the prefecture for area or the Mairie locally as it is a requirement of the law to be registered with your mairie who pass the info on to the prefecture. But beware, as already suggested the local tourist office is not a reliable source because you have to be a paid up member to be on their books.

Don't worry about the competition, let the competition worry about you.

Google has been suggested and is a good start, but I would also contact my local tourist office, as they often hold information on B&B and gites places in your region, but also you could 'put yourself on their list'! Make sure to have good clear photographs, lots of information on your area, the more the better. Just go through lots of websites regarding your area, you will always find something of interest, and its' a great learning curve, learning about your area, and don't stop when you think you know it all, as there's always more.....

You could advertise via some of the holiday companies, as then you're always 'out there' and people will find you!

If you need some holiday company names....let me know....else good luck :)

Lis :)

PS! Do you know of AngloInfo?

Yes, you are working to empower the business plan classification of 'Competitive Strategy'. Here is a little tip. Just write 'My product/service is so revolutionary I have no competition'. The reality is your 'Executive Summary' is the only thing that will ever be read. Spend the time to make sure your financials make sense; i.e. Breakeven analysis, Cashflow statement, etc. And make sure any claims you make can stand up to Due Diligence and that's it. Network in investment communities you have a personal connection to. No one will fund someone they don't know. And Bon Courage!!!


Find your local BGE (Boutiques Gestion Entreprise) They will take you right through the whole start up process for free - and have plenty of knowledge about where to search for things like competitors, and statistics for market research etc.

Hello There !

Of course, Your Local Tourist Office would have a list of "Gites", surely?

Then there are organisms like "Gites de France" ( If they are still alive) or whatever has replaced them


Do your searches using Chrome and use a Chrome Incognito Window. Any query you make isn't remembered so you start afresh each time


Hi Emily,

Steve sent me the Montpellier business plan, which was really simple to fill in. Then, when I had a meeting at the CCI, they found it really useful to transfer onto their project sheets, to tell me my plan was feasible. I was then able to take it to the bank who also approved it.

As for finding competitors I just simply googled my relevant keywords as Steve suggests and found my competitors - those that didn't come up weren't likely to be my competitors (PS, I used different computers and different search words to try and avoid it being too biased to me)

What status do you have to have when you start a Gite business, a limited company or can you go the Auto Entrepreneur route ? By concentrating on companies, it might be that you are looking for something that doesn't exist. You might be better off looking for where people are advertising their gites.

I would knock on the door of the local "Chambre de Commerce". They can guide you with regard to your question, but also in how to set up a "France-proof" business-plan.

I would start with Google. Think of the words you would use to describe your business and put them into Google and see what turns up. In your case "Gite Town/Area" and any other words you want to use. See what turns up on Google .

When you have found some competitors, Google their names and see where they are listed.

Keep a note of the keywords you use as they will be useful later when writing the text for your website as you will want to include them. Some of the results will be directories, keep a list of these as well as you will want to get your site added to them.

You could also look at Tourist Info websites that cover your region and see who is listed. Another source would be the Gites de France site for your area. And of course the yellow pages (


If you are writing a business plan, I found areally useful bit of software on a site set up by the Montpellier region