Steps to set up a business in Thailand (or anywhere i guess)
I have quickly compiled the steps you need to take before you open a business in Thailand. People do get successful without some of my listed steps. But for the best chance of survival you need to do everything you can.
1. Move to Thailand and live there for a few years, get the partying out of the way, get a stable life and be ready to work.
2. Get to know the city of business, get to know rival business owners, other business owners. Learn from them, ask questions, watch them. Look for patterns in successful people. For example once you get to know the best/most successful business owners you will quickly realise they pay alot more to their staff than the going market rate. These guys know people are makers of there business and reward them highly to stay around.
3. Meet lots of people with various methods, build up contacts, go to networking events. Find people that are successful and like to mentor or share info such as contacts. Find the guys that seem to know everything
4. Try to drink less and less, look after yourself physically and mentally. If you are sober 247 you have full control of your life, business and decisions.
5. Build up real friendships and never confuse drinking buddies with real friends because they are completely different. We all have friends that we only have alcohol in common, they are good for a night out and a laugh but don’t expect them to be there when ur in hospital or locked up.
6. Build up trust, be open with people, don’t lie or cheat. There are lots of legal methods of cheating people. Don’t be one of those guys, I’ve seen all the tricks, i would never dream of it.
7. Get a lawyer, accountant through recommendations. Plus builder, plumber and electricians.
8. Learn about the market you will go into. Figure out the pitfalls and if it lines up with your strengths and weaknesses.
9. Learn about rents for rival businesses. Every time you see a unit for rent or sale ANYWHERE in pattaya, phone and ask prices but be aware most places are empty for a reason. Could be a murder inside, high rents or dodgy landlord. Ask local taxi drivers about empty units or any unit your going to rent. My wife looked at a salon, i thought rent was too high, taxi drivers said many people have tried running the business but they fail and sell. This confirmed rent is too high. So if a unit has a high turn over of businesses or business owners. Its a warning.
10. When you find a business get as much advice and mentoring as possible. Be aware a lot of businesses have no good will, so do not pay more for good will. This is because people often reopen businesses or move somewhere else and customers follow. Staff often leave also and the business becomes very weak and unstable.
11. The businesses here are about you. You have to be hands on at least to start with. No one else will mother ur baby as much as you. If i brought a massage and sat outside all day overseeing things i would make money for sure. If I’m not there little chance. If you are the face of the business and deal with people, u can build up relationships and people react better when they deal with the boss. (Another reason to master Thai.)
12. Get to know Thais that you can trust, get police contacts, Thai friends in government, dodgy Thai friends. You will need all of them at some point. You will get friends in various departments later on.
13. To be successful here you need to learn to trust people, you can be careful but you cant stop every scam. To grow business here you need to be able to stomach the risk and trust people.
14. Get to know laws, rules, customs. Learn about your customer behaviour and your rival companies rules.
15. Find talented staff. This is the most important bit. Without good staff you will suffer or do badly. Learn how to keep them and build relationships with them.. Make them faithful by treating them like family.
16. Find investors, some don’t need to do this. Anyone can come up with cash, either using savings, borrowing or getting investors. Getting funding is the easy bit. Now i am established i get guys constantly asking to invest with us. But unless its something like 18m i am not interested. We make enough to grow. Also guys like me will invest in the right people.
17. Start a fb group or try to be an authority on a subject. Write/teach people things, they will come to you for more info or send people your way. You can build up contacts this way and get referals or opportunities.
18. Favours – do people favours, go out of your way, treat people (not too much but be thoughtful) if you look after people and help them. Some of them will help you back, very few people in this town remember a good favour. But you give enough out, you will get some back and then you can see who your support will be from. You can build solid relationships with these people.
19. Learn to read/write/speak Thai. This will give you a huge advantage. You wont relie on bad translations and avoid costly mistakes.
20. Plan how much money to invest, add on extra just incase and figure out losses for a bit. It all needs to be factored in. Make sure you don’t invest most of your money. Make sure you can afford to lose it. Maybe plan ahead to decide when to pull the plug. Many business owners throw good money after bad and its all gone. When the money is gone, the game stops. Failing or successful business are great teachers and every business person has had failures to swallow
21. Try to get a steady gf in ur life or at least someone you can trust.
22. Judge people by smalls things they do and it will save you alot of problems. If a business partner is asking you to keep secrets about other business partners or are cheating them. Take that as a warning, because you will be next. Cunts always show their true colours in the end.
23. Try and make everything legal if your rivals are. If they aren’t then i would suggest doing the same. Alot don’t pay tax here or at least declare much, don’t be the guy that ruins it lol.
24. Ask yourselves why people will buy from you? What makes you different? Is your reach impressive? Maybe some like the fact they can deal with a farang or feel safer. You can play on those later.
25. Make sure your buildings electric will support your business. On the rare occasion some places are maxed out, then need to lay alot of money to upgrade transformer. Some businesses don’t have sewage pipes, they have septic tanks, so if your doing a laundry it wont work.
26. Use facebook to get feedback, listen to ur customers, react to any issues they highlight and reward them if they have helped ur business get stronger. Put systems in place to prevent same issues popping up.
27. Be radical sometimes. Thailand is behind so lots of opportunities here that happened already in farangland.
28. Adapt continuously and don’t be scared of changes. Because they will happen. A big foot stamps on you often here.
29. Learn to get fucked in the ass and smile. Because your in for a bum raping occasionally.
30. Explore Thailand, be sure your in the right place and know where ur customers or suppliers are.
31. Getting a location (and price) in the right places for most businesses is the most challenging part. Be very very patient because you need to get it right. And be prepared to move fast when an opportunity arises. Be prepared to overlook things. No landlord deal is perfect. Always reasons not to sign, but experienced guys accept the risk. For example some landlords say if there is a fire, no matter how small, they will throw you out. Not ideal but you have to take on that risk or you end up nowhere.
34. Do everything to avoid having business partners unless they are crucial for the business. Go over every rule and scenario, battle it out now before its to late. Define money amounts and things. Structure it transparently and fairly. Write it all down because you will forget it.
35. Make sure your break even point us very realistic and see what rivals sales are. Last thing you need is a losing business, most the times this is because people are paying too much rent. There are small margins here and some of your competitors live rent free and can afford to lower prices. Muay thai gyms generally wont make money unless you own the land.
36. Lastly make sure you love what you do and are passionate about it. You will learn more than people who aren’t and your customers will notice. You will be rewarded greatly.
37. And one more. Many business owner will give you a payment plan to buy there business because they know most people will hit the bars and not be able to keep up payments. They then lose the business. Many people make good money doing it. You can potentially sell your business over and over.
Lastly, I see so many guys trying to think of new ideas, I get alot of guys telling me off the chain ideas, its all good for ego but very rarely for finances. Do business to make money, use proven businesses and methods. If you are successful and are in a position to test the market for other ideas, do it slowly with little commitment imo. There is no point reinventing the wheel.