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A Business Plan for Your Life Abroad

Self-employment remains a popular alternative to traditional expat assignments. It is the dream of many expats to open a successful business overseas. However, being a self-employed expat involves a lot of preparation, paperwork and financial know-how.
A well thought-out business plan is essential for keeping your business afloat.

Dealing with Red Tape

Lars (35) experienced the difficulties mentioned above when he applied for a visa to open a diving school in Thailand. To get the appropriate visa-plus-work permit, Lars needed invest at least 2 million THB (or 50,000 EUR) into his new business venture. A quarter of this sum needed to be paid within 90 days of registering the company. Moreover, he needed to cover his living costs until his business would start yielding a profit.

For Lars, the difficulties did not end there. “Before I could even register my company, I needed to have an address in Thailand. So I had to know in advance where my diving school was supposed to be – but I didn’t even know all the places on Ko Samui yet!”

Lars realized that he had not planned the whole thing through. He soon found out how naïve this approach had been. “I knew I had the money to start a new business. I was simply eager to leave Denmark behind and move somewhere where it was warm and sunny. They demanded me to hire a Thai accountant and find seven shareholders for my business. I realized there and then that I didn’t even have a proper business plan and only the most basic idea of Thai business regulations or immigration laws. Thank God that I hadn’t bought any equipment yet. But the money I had paid for my fact-finding trips to Thailand was lost.”

Drawing Up a Business Plan

The very foundation of a successful business is a solid business plan. Without a well-prepared business plan, you are at risk of seeing your dream go up in smoke sooner or later.

Ernesto (44) did not only include financial calculations in his business plan. When he came up with the idea to open an office for international finance and tax law in Jerez de la Frontera, he decided to take it a step further. He researched information on the economy in Spain and specifically on the province of Cádiz.

"I figured, if I wanted to be successful with my business, I needed to know all about the local economy and about similar businesses in the area. Thus, I could make sure that I had found a niche on the local market and that my business was not just one among many."

So, when Ernesto finally moved from Arequipa in Peru to Spain, he was fully prepared. His well thought-out business plan had convinced an international bank to grant him a loan. Today, his business is thriving.