Emmanuel Chaveroux is a so-called true local product of South West France. He was born in the town of Castres in the Department of Tarn. His family has lived in the region for generations.
He is passionate about history, architecture, arts and interior design. And takes great pride in designing welcoming spaces in his homes linking past and present with a sense of authentic French styles. Having lived in Australia for a while he keep re-discovering the hidden gems, local stories, and mysteries of the French region which he is keen to share with you.
My guess is that you are here because you are curious about what it might be like to start a business?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you have what it takes? If your idea will work or even how much it actually costs to build a successful business?
I’ve written a book that can answer pretty much all your questions “So You Want to Start a Business” and you can download the first 20 pages at www.thestartupsteps.com
15 years of experience working with start up businesses are condensed into this book.
It’s your step by step guide to launch your business smarter and faster and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you and can’t wait to hear about your progress.
Are you ready to grab your excerpt? Click here www.thestartupsteps.com
Now here is the transcript of the podcast.
Ingrid: Hello, and here we are today with Emmanuel Chaveroux.
Manu: Bonjour I should say.
Ingrid: Bonjour indeed.
Ingrid: Okay, that’s it. That’s my French, all right. We’re going to talk all things French with Emmanuel this morning. So, please Emmanuel, welcome and tell us what business are you in? What is your business?
Manu: Well, I work in the tourism industry. I started a business that operates more personalised hosted and guided tour in my home region, which the South West of France. I basically offer a facility to immerse yourself in the language, culture and history of my home region and I give you the local insights and I show you around basically and share what I like doing. And showing people about my region and share some local histories and culture.
Ingrid: This sounds like a wonderful business. When did you start this business?
Manu: I started a year ago. So, 6th of December 2016 is when I registered my business and this way I felt I was in the business basically.
Ingrid: Tell us Emmanuel, tell us why did you start your business?
Manu: Well, I always liked sharing things to Burma region and I’m passionate about my region. When I was a student I used to have a job as a tourist guide, but at the time I was guiding school groups from European exchanges. So, I guided some English and German, Spanish students who were coming in my region. That was my first job was actually to guide teenagers and also share my knowledge and expertise of the region.
The other reason why I started my business is because it gives me the opportunity to combine personal interest in French architecture, history and cultural aspects of my region as well as my past learned skills as a tourist guide and linguistic competence because that’s also a very important aspect of my business is that I offer French courses. So, people will come and visit me, I’ve got the opportunity to learn French and to put their language skills into practise during their tours. So, I’m a very practical approach.
Ingrid: Very practical indeed. So, you started the business and it sounds a little bit like it was partly because you are really proud of the area you come from and that you want to be able to show that off and combine your skills. Was there anything else that you wanted from your business from day one?
Manu: From day one, I think there was first the idea of being able to share what you like and passionate about. To get a sense of achievement and pride. I like to show where I come from and show all sorts on insights of my culture, and part of who I am as a human being as well. It’s a whole package.
Ingrid: It’s the whole package.
Manu: So, business that could give me a sense of satisfaction as well and give that satisfaction to potential customers.
Ingrid: So many people are interested in France that it really is a terrific business. So, it’s been going for about a year, and I know Emmanuel that we met sometime before that, so it has come together over a period of time. Does it feel like a real business now? When did it feel real, like you were in business?
Manu: When I was in business, well, that I mentioned a bit earlier is when I registered the business-
Ingrid: Okay, so it felt real.
Manu: It started making me… Oh, I’m actually doing business now, it’s not just talking about it, that’s all getting into more practical and administrative tasks. I found out I was really beginning on the day I registered my business. Then gradually with the increased demands of administrative tasks, creating websites, writing newsletters, meeting people on markets or on different venues. Then, that make me realise that I’m actually enjoying business.
Ingrid: It’s a real business.
Manu: Yes, it is.
Ingrid: If we think about your customers, so a lot of these is because you love your area, you want to show people. How do you know that people want to come and be immersed in France? How do you know they want to come and learn the language? How do you know that?
Manu: Well, it’s just … First of all, I’ve been observing for quite some time how some potential customers might travel when they go through France. So, through my job as a language French teacher, I’ve observed over the years of some of my colleagues like to go through France during their holidays to get that sense of immersion. They want to feel immersed, they want to feel part of a local family. They want to do a range of activities, to really feel included in all aspects of French life. This way I first realised that there could actually be a niche to cater for these teachers who don’t always have the time to do lots of planning for their holidays, and they’ve got lots of holidays and that’s where I help them just to … They can do a last minute booking where it’s all included and they get the chance to be immersed and talk in French with me and I show them around.
I would say that’s a first thing that I realised it was viable. The other thing I think is it’s more of in a general trend of tourism. I see, we travel trends of significantly shifted from mastery in practises to more personalised and customised travel experiences. I think this philosophy of travelling is really aligned with my project. I think there is also a big part of the population, the young active baby boomers who are always keen to travel and discover new part of the world. So, that’s also another factor I think.
To finish, there is also evident interest in French culture. Just looking at the travel section of the Sydney Morning Herald, there is always something about France and tours in the different parts of France. But not so much in my region, the Southwest. So, it’s relatively unknown by foreigner. That’s why I’m helping to really share something that is quite not as known and not as cliché as what other parts of France might look like.
Ingrid: Oh dear, not so cliché. The real France you would not-
Manu: Yes, giving what the tourists want. That’s the whole idea. And also me being in a country, local people and that makes a whole different travel experience. Not being just a tourist but get the chance to get immersed and get off the beaten track.
Ingrid: Of course the joy of having you there is that because you have the language skills it makes it easy for them because that is one of the fears that people have when they go off the beaten track if they don’t speak French, how are they going to communicate in those areas where maybe people don’t speak as much English.
Manu: Yes, indeed and that’s part of the services that I offer. As you mentioned, the ability to guide and facilitate encountering with local people. I offer a whole package with me as a tour guide, as a host, as a chauffeur and as an interpreter. Having said that, there is also time where people have the opportunity to be more independent if they requested to do so, where they can go and explore part of the suggested area on their own. So, it’s not always being with me. But it’s true that I’m here to facilitate and guide people.
Ingrid: Indeed. Let’s do some business question. So, funding the business, you had to get a website, you’ve had to print brochures, there is costs involved. How do you fund the business in the early days and how do you plan to fund the expansion? You can be as detailed as you like to hear. It’s quite a personal question, but people want to know where does the money come from?
Manu: Yes. So, I did my accounting yesterday so I can’t tell you exactly how much I spend on the first year because that’s the main challenge when you start a new business. In a small business, you often get restricted financially speaking. So, to tackle these challenges, I actually started a new job. I teach French to adults in a big adults learning centre in Sydney. This has been giving me some cashflow, additional cashflow. And I’ve used that money to actually promote my business, and at the same time, teaching French to adults has been a great opportunity to also promote my business. Just killing two birds with one stone.
Ingrid: That’s very clever. My next question is, how do you find new customers? You teach them French and then you offer them to come to France with you? But how else do you find new customers?
Manu: How do I find my customers is just talking about my business to people whenever I’ve got an opportunity to not aggressive marketing. But in the conversation I always like to mention that I start running tours in the southwest of France. The other places, so I mentioned the adult learning centre, it’s a great place to meet local and potential customers. I’ve also been attending language French teacher conferences. I’m now an associate member of many institutions through Sydney and Australia wide. I’ve been working for quite some time on becoming an associate member of the French Association Language Teacher Association called NAFT. I’ve been an associate member for more than six months now. I’m currently working on expanding my networking through the Alliance Francaise’s French cultural centres. In Sydney, I’m already an associate member, but I’m also Australia wide.
I’m now an associate member of the Alliance Francaise in Melbourne and very soon Perth, and I just keep expanding my networking that way. Hoping that people will find out about myself. And then I mentioned that I also go and meet people face to face. I think it’s really important that because it’s now a personal tour that people get a chance to see me. So, I go and encounter people on the markets and talk about my region and what services I offer. That’s pretty much how I have been looking for now potential customers.
More recently I started Facebook marketing, which is now the other side in the next step for me to move on. I’m now developing a Facebook marketing. I recently started joining Francophile social media groups in Australia and abroad. That also, could be a very good way to connect with potential customers I believe.
Ingrid: That’s a very broad marketing strategy around joining associations, different aspects of where you’re really doing this work of where are your customers or your clients and how do you go out and find them. That’s terrific, I hope everybody was paying attention there. Let’s talk about pricing. Emmanuel, when you look at your product, you have tours for certain number of days, there is different lengths of days, how did you decide a pricing strategy? You don’t need to go into detail particularly about what they all are, but philosophically, how did you decide a pricing strategy?
Manu: I tried to be as practical as possible and exact as well in terms of pricing. So, basically, all the services that I offer and with a specific price per person. That is a good barometer of the kind of services that I offer. I saw something for my customers. So, depending on the options that they choose because it’s like choosing your tour ala carte, so people can choose from a wealth of options from very basic to more expensive ones. But all my listing pricing strategy revolves around the listing of specific activities and experiences that people can do.
Ingrid: Okay, thank you. We’ll put some notes in the show notes to the podcast of how people can contact you, but what is your website Emmanuel? Just for our … because by now anyone listening who loves France is ready to book. They’re ready to jump in. What is your website please?
Manu: My website is www.discovermyfrance.com.au.
Ingrid: All the information is there.
Manu: -through the website, and as well on my Facebook page. So, Discover My France, just type in Discover My France and you’ll find all the information and some of the interesting postings that I’ve put there to share my knowledge and also cultural activities that you can do while on a tour with Discover My France.
Ingrid: That’s a terrific name, isn’t it? Thank you. Now, what is your exit strategy? I know you’re only just getting started, but have you thought about where this goes in the long term, or is this something that you’re going to just keep forever?
Manu: For anything I do in life, I always set myself goals. Usually I work two year timeline. It’s just to give me a chance to develop the business and see how it goes. I will first assess in two years’ time. It’s already one year over, so next year I will think of what next step to take to continue the business, or if not, because that’s a potential effect. I have a couple of exit strategies. Basically, using some bed and breakfast platforms, some very well-known bed and breakfast platforms and offer the same similar services through established platform. I was approached by a company in the first months when I started. It’s a French networking company that specialises in similar experiences but with qualified French teachers. I’m a French teacher, so that could be also another option be part of this networking to work on visitors from all over the world and in my region, which is not very much represented in the network.
They’re the two exit strategies that I’ve sort of … But just keep that in the back of my head but personally I’m not really thinking too much on this.
Ingrid: No. As we are talking, this is almost the end of 2017, so in two years’ time … I know you’ve already had one year, but in another two years’ time, we’re almost on the cusp of 2020. I think there is quite a few people already setting 2020 as a benchmark for they want to have certain things done by then. When we talk about setting goals, 2020 is a terrific target and already people are starting to talk about 2030, set these targets for 2030.
Manu: Even 2040.
Ingrid: Really? I’m not sure I’m still going to be alive by then, so I’ll have to think about that one. Emmanuel, let’s have a think about some reflective questions. This is more around getting ready to start. Is there something you wish you’d done differently at the beginning?
Manu: Differently? There is one thing I would have done is more planning. Obviously, project management is important. Do as much planning as possible and that would be my advice. Because sometimes I felt things were coming too quickly and I had to move on from one task to the next. With more planning… And the more planning you put into it before you actually start will make a huge difference because then you’d obviously impact on your time and time management is a very important skill to have also to have some momentum and be able to breath because creating a business can be uplifting but it is demanding. You’ve got to be self-driven and keep working on your daily tasks. Yes, that’s what I was saying basically.
Ingrid: So, a bit more planning. Is there is something you wish you had known from the start if somebody could have told you one more piece of knowledge that would have made a difference?
Manu: Something that would have made a difference is more or less the planning and all the requirements of businesses and what we’re required to do to comply. I didn’t have a full picture of that, so I’ve learned a few things along.
Ingrid: The actual nuts and bolts of the compliance and registrations and all of that kind of thing.
Manu: Knowing what should be on the market for example and that kind of thing. So, yes a lot of things there.
Ingrid: Who apart from yourself has been of great assistance? That’s either people or associations or industry bodies, who has been able to help you?
Manu: Well I have got to say a special thank you to my partner, Hannah, who has been very supportive in the process, and we’ve been working as a team. It’s been more or less managing all the technical side like developing the website and it has been a big part of the work so was producing the content and was working more on the technical side. Then along the way, I also found some dedicated friends who have been willing to help me and come along to some of the markets for example where it gives a bit of how to release and basically, I’ve been relying on these people.
The other aspect is the local businesses too. So I’ve approached a few local businesses in my area. They’ve helped me to promote, nothing really complex but just putting a fly on the wall and leaving a few leaflets in the shops. They’ve been really supportive of that. I will like to say a special thank you to the Alliance Francaise, the French Cultural Centre, because they’re also very supportive of small businesses and gave me that opportunity to be presenting on their websites at no costs which is fantastic.
Ingrid: Wow, that is very fantastic. So, Emmanuel, where do you get good feedback from in terms of … You said you go to the markets and you talk face to face with people, is that one of the places that you get feedback about your business?
Manu: Yes it is because just on little marketing surveys about the business and about now trying to find out about how people want to travel and how people feel about having guides. How people want to feel like they’ve got a different travel experience. So yes, being on the market and doing some marketing surveys, asking people feedback all the time. I start using Facebook more in that sense where I’m going to give the options. So it’s always nice to hear from people. Obviously ask my friends and those who experienced a stay with me. They’re the source of the feedback that I get from them here.
Ingrid: That’s terrific. And we all need that feedback don’t we? Emmanuel, you’ve mentioned some of the characteristics about being in business. If you had to pick three key characteristics that you have that make you successful in business, what are those three about you?
Manu: I think being passionate is one of the first key characteristics. It’s not just about selling a product or selling a service, people have got to feel that you’re passionate about it. I had some great feedback on the market, so you get instant feedback from customer how I feel like saying, “I feel like I want to go now just listening to you. This is quite encouraging.” That’s why meeting people face to face is a great way to share my passion. The second one I would say is to be self-driven. Self-discipline is really important. I’m currently on holidays but I spend pretty much half of the day every day to do some tasks, tasks for my business.
The last one I would say is self-reflective so listen to people and see how we can improve things to give customers the client satisfaction. Those for me are the main characteristics.
Ingrid: That’s actually tricky. I’ve never had that last one. I haven’t heard anybody say that about being self-reflective and really listening. So, we’re building a bank but there is a lot of commonality that being self-disciplined is-
Manu: These three that came to my mind.
Ingrid: Perfect. So, someone comes to you and they have an idea for a business, and they say to you, “Oh Emmanuel, what do you think? Should I start my own business? What do you think about that?” What would you tell them?
Manu: It’s a very good question because it’s actually a friend of mine who is a freelance designer and I used his services in the first stage now of developing my business operation of logo and flyers, asked me that question. “So, what do you think I would need to do?” What I encouraged him to do is to find some platforms to use to build up his networking. I recommended that he start doing a course about a design course for small businesses. That’s where say maybe, there would be a niche for you to provide services for small business and that’s what I did. That was really really helpful and the thing was doing to release you from the daily task and at the same time I’m going to give a far more professional image of your business. And we did a great job on that. That’s what I said.
Then the other thing I would say is just to go and learn as much as you can from all sorts of books. For me, I’ve used the Getting Started In Small Business For Dummies. That was my bible at the very beginning. Obviously, Ingrid, your books. So You Want To Start A Business, A Seven Step Guide. It’s another useful resource.
Manu: Do all sorts of courses. A couple of days ago I went to do a course on Facebook marketing. That’s where I find it’s quite uplifting to create a business in that sense. You keep learning new things and you come up with ideas, and it is really really exciting. But they said there are bad time to that too, where sometimes you feel, oh what now, I feel a bit more isolated and- You go through your up and downs but I think that’s really what I like about is learning new things and keep innovating and be creative and put things into practise to again, give your customers a great satisfaction of the service.
Ingrid: That’s fantastic. Emmanuel, thank you so much for your time today. Is there anything else that you need to say? We’ve got your website, we know that we’re all going to pack our bags and come to France. But is there anything else from a business perspective that you would say to someone who … because the audience listening are people thinking about starting a business. So, is there anything … I think you’ve covered lots but is there anything before we wrap up?
Manu: Set yourself goals in everything you do and plan and plan. There is never enough planning you can do, and that’s one thing I regretted now. In the beginning I felt maybe it would have been great to allocate more time before I jumped in. Give yourself time to plan. That will reward with you with a sense of being more serene because there’s been stressful times when I have to deal with and come up with all sort of things. And with a bit more planning and give myself more time and momentum, I think I would have approached the things that time in a more serene way. That would be my advice.
Ingrid: Yes, but being in your own business and serenity don’t necessarily go hand in hand do they? Emmanuel, thank you so much for your time today.
Manu: Thank you for having me Ingrid and really enjoyed your conversation. So, thank you.
Ingrid: Thank you.