It seems like everywhere you turn, another successful and exciting startup is in the news. When is it going to be your turn? And, even more importantly, where are you going to take the leap?
There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Thailand than right now. And, when you’re ready to make it happen, here are the ten things you ought to know.
1. CULTURAL APPRECIATION
You definitely want to start off on the right foot.
Showing respect for Thai culture is the best way to endear yourself to your fellow team members and possible clients. Thailand is a nation so varied and exotic that you may find, if you are an expat living there, that the culture and traditions are far from what you are used to.
Embrace them! Expect to try and live in a new way.
Not only will it help you with your business connections, but you’ll find that the pleasant and easygoing nature of Thailand will seep into you and hopefully into your business.
2. LANGUAGE SKILLS GO A LONG WAY
A little effort goes a long way, and this is never more true than with learning the Thai language.
While you don’t have to be a linguistic expert, being an entrepreneur means that you very much rely on close connections with your audience and customer base. You’re eager to pursue business and networking, and that takes communication skills. In Thailand, part of that means making an effort to learn the language, especially since you may find that English is not used as fluently in Thailand as it is in other Asian countries.
Learn basic phrases, and try to speak them out loud even if you know it might not be perfect. Speaking the language of the country you are in, no matter how rudimentary your skills are, is a wonderful way to show that you honour and respect them. They will definitely return the favour. And you never know–you might just find that fluency after all!
3. YOU WON’T BE GETTING BORED
Being an entrepreneur is never a boring road to take, but it can be a lot of work. Exhaustion and drudgery will set in if you aren’t careful. Thailand is an amazing and beautiful country that seems almost dead set against you being bored!
Even something as simple as a business meeting held over lunch becomes a kind of mini-adventure at the table with all of the wonderful Thai food choices you’ll have to choose from no matter what restaurant you select. Endless activities and places to relax will keep you from feelings of boredom and exhaustion.
4. INTERNET CONNECTIVITY IN THAILAND
Depending upon where you are located in Thailand, you might experience extremely fast internet connectivity or you might be part of a system that has some downtime.
Do a bit of research on where you plan to set up shop, and plan accordingly. Major cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket will have great broadband internet available. Other areas of the country use 3G connectivity or dial-up if broadband happens to not be available. Rest assured that Thailand is one of the most connected nations in Asia, with over 1,000,000 internet hosts and substantial amounts of time spent online.
5. MANAGING YOUR MONEY WISELY
One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face anywhere in the world is cash flow. Budgets are tight, expenses seem to run rampant, and using hard-earned cash the best way possible seems impossible.
In Thailand, the cost of living is going to work for you.
This is a nation that is famously less expensive than many of its counterparts. While you will still need to manage your money wisely and budget, you might not face the same expenses that you would in big startup hubs like Silicon Valley in the United States. Thailand is very affordable.
6. GREAT STARTUP CULTURE
A difficult hurdle that many entrepreneurs face in other countries is that of finding a support network. Most people aren’t familiar with, or understand, the struggles of entrepreneurship.
Thailand is booming when it comes to startups and new businesses. Both Thai nationals and the expats who are flocking to the country are discovering the benefits of starting a business (especially tech startups) in Thailand.
Many of the college graduates in Thailand have a desire to eventually run their own businesses, making this a culture that looks favorably–almost expectantly–on those who are entrepreneurs. You’ll find a receptive group of people who understand you, including your challenges, your goals–all of what it means to be an entrepreneur. There will be no shortage of support, and finding like-minded fellow entrepreneurs to build your network with won’t be difficult at all.
7. FINDING WORKERS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Thailand has a low unemployment rate, which makes it a challenge to find workers in some sectors, particularly the tech industry. Workers with a college education and experience in tech and development have their pick of where they want to work, and job hopping isn’t unusual.
The good news? If you’re willing to take on workers that need training, you’ll likely end up with a great team that is loyal to your company. Just as you would expect in any country, by providing great benefits and creating a great culture, you’ll attract workers, even in a country with such a competitive work force.
Even if you can’t pay the highest salaries that a large international corporation can, you can still provide a great atmosphere to work in. In a country like Thailand, which values family, that matters a great deal.
8. GETTING FUNDED IN THAILAND
In some countries, it isn’t uncommon to have government grants and other funding opportunities available for startups and entrepreneurs. Thailand is a bit different in that the Thai government takes a more hands-off approach. Though they offer some incentives, such as business matching or even reduced office space rental, generally speaking you’ll be on your own to raise any funding for your startup or business.
Remember, though, that the expat community is very strong in Thailand, and that the spirit of entrepreneurship is high. Make the right connections and you’ll have an easier job of finding any funding you need to pursue.
9. STAY ON TOP OF VISAS
Living and working in a foreign country has legal requirements that are different than working back home.
Whether for the right to stay in the country, purchase property, or how you run and structure your business, you’ll need to know which legal visas are required. This may require legal advice from a reputable Thai attorney, so do expect to add this to your budget as part of the cost of doing business.
10. YES, YOU COULD LIVE ON THE BEACH
Beaches are almost synonymous with Thailand, and yes, it is completely possible you might have a dream location with almost direct access to beaches.
Remember, the cost of living is low and affordable. Whether you choose to rent or to buy a home in Thailand, you will likely find yourself with a place to call home that you would not dream of being able to live on in any other country. Work hard, and maybe one day you could be living in your very own luxury villa in Koh Samui.