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Thread: It's easy to become an expat entrepreneur - from Flippa

  1. #11
    New Member Mentor JimWaller is a Premium Member
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    I have run across a couple of the so-called gurus who have admitted they didn't realize the "internet lifestyle" meant having an office and keeping track of workers and that they had essentially exchanged one "cage" for another.

    To me, the expat lifestyle is all about experiencing other places and cultures in way you can't as a tourist.

    I've been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling as a tourist and to have lived in a country other than my own for a year, so I'm familiar in the slightest way with what it takes to live in a different country even though I lived in a culture that is relatively similar to my own.

    Just the number of hoops I had to jump through to get my national identity card was annoying. I can only imagine the paperwork that would be involved in an extended stay as an expat.

    To call that "easy" is doing a great disservice to would-be expats. And, that is not taking into account things like language differences, culture differences, and lifestyle differences. (Nor any biases or prejudices against your native country.)

    It is a lot to consider, but it can also be very rewarding.
    Last edited by JimWaller; 12 August 2013 at 1:13 am.
    Help bring Janice home My mother-in-law was hospitalized while on vacation (holiday) We're trying to bring her home.

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  3. #12
    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    Just the number of hoops I had to jump through to get my national identity card was annoying.
    Why did you need one? The right to not possess an id card is the WWII winners medal.

    A detested Nazi invention, the ID card. They were even adopted in the UK, but didn't have photographs and were ignored after 1945. The rest of Europe liked them too much, and everybody had to be fitted with new ones.

    Apart from the French obsession with yellow headlights, which the EU stomped on a few years back, we have had few other reminders of "rule by force" lingering into modern times.

    I'm shocked.

  4. #13
    New Member Mentor JimWaller is a Premium Member
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    BINGO! I was France circa 1993. I think the official name was "Carte Sejour" or something like that, but it was effectively a national ID card that I was supposed to carry at all times and produce to the authorities upon request. I just loosely translated for the sake of convenience.
    Help bring Janice home My mother-in-law was hospitalized while on vacation (holiday) We're trying to bring her home.

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    Kay,

    I think you're completely missing the point. (and probably my first post on Flippa about starting off as an expat)

    My estimation was that most of the Flippa readers (that would be interested in the article, anyway) are set by DEFAULT to be worried/nervous/cautious. Sure there are plenty of things to be concerned about, traps to avoid, etc. but that isn't the approach that's likely to get them started down the path towards achieving their goal (If, indeed, this is a goal of theirs)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    I love being an expat. That's why I've spent most of my time abroad since the late 1980s, and the Internet has certainly made things easier. But. Without some savings behind you and some kind of support-system you won't get far. Even Justin Cooke says in his article that you need enough money behind you, a viable business plan, a good team of people, good contacts, and the ability to spot opportunities. And that's easy? I beg to differ.
    "Easy" is relative. You can differ all you want but anyone who's heard me mention this wouldn't argue that I'm consistently saying that getting started abroad is easy. But...I do think it's easier than most people think. (And easier than you make it out to be)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    Hmm, no passport? No visa? It all sounds so simple that one might almost think it was all about selling a dream.
    What? Really? You're beating me up for that? Anyone stupid enough to not understand you need a passport, (VOA for the Philippines) a toothbrush, underwear, and other items/garments - well I don't bother making the article for them. You're free to guest post on Flippa with a list of things you think are appropriately mentioned, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    Seriously, over the few years I've been on EP several people have asked me privately about living in SE Asia and I've done my best to reply to them as extensively as I can. I think they've been quite shocked by my replies. It's not a case of just upping sticks and moving. I agree with Dave, it really was irresponsible to publish an article saying how easy it all is, and the words "selling a dream" keep coming to mind. I'm not the type of person to believe all I read but the content of that blog post had me absolutely shaking my head in disbelief. I hope no one is taken in by such misinformation.
    In my situation, it WAS a case of upping sticks and moving. It's not like a I went without a plan, but I didn't let fear hold me back. I'm not selling a dream - it's not all beaches and sunshine for most of my day. I work my butt off and have a fairly normal life...I just get little escapes and perks from being over here that I didn't have in the US. (And, I'm guessing, most don't have there as well)

    It's this kind of negativity that led you to get the Aloft in BKK 2.5 stars, eh? Come on...really? I was there in 2012...excellent place! (Ok, I'm digging a bit)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    It's true that the cost of living in Thailand can be very low in terms of food and accommodation. However, there are plenty of hidden costs which people often don't think about, such as private medical insurance (c 2,000 p/a). With Thailand specifically, you have to leave the country every 90 days (tourist visa), so for extended stays you have to budget for all the trips away (unless you can get a different type of visa - difficult and often expensive).

    Malaysia is easier - they actively welcome foreigners via their MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) programme. However, it's much more expensive to live there.

    Cambodia is cheap and visas are relatively easy, but it's like Thailand was 30 years ago. It lacks the infrastructure of the other countries in the region, plus there's a lack of good supermarkets and not so much choice of great restaurants.
    Like taking short vacations from Thailand is such a bad thing. Medical care in Thailand is awfully inexpensive - especially for those of us from the US. There are some other issues in Thailand (working) but I've spoken to dozens of expat entrepreneurs that spend quite a bit of time in Thailand and aren't nearly as sour on it as you.

    I can't speak to Malaysia as I haven't been there, but my (brief) trip to Cambodia last year, I found it much as you've stated. Lots of opportunity, but way too "early" and too little infrastructure for me to want to get involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kay View Post
    I think the idea behind the articles I mentioned is that if you have a computer and an Internet connection, you can work from anywhere. To some extent this is true - but only if you're not dealing with the logistics of physical products. You can run websites from anywhere in the world. When you physically have to ship stuff, it all becomes a bit more problematic - and even assuming you can suss out the transportation side of it, you've still got customs and other laws to worry about.

    This idea of sitting on a beach with a laptop has almost become yet another Internet myth and it's constantly being perpetuated by people who either aren't telling you the whole truth or sometimes because they don't know any better. A lot of MMO vendors also sell their products with the idea that you have total freedom to make money online anywhere in the world. And then there are a lot of disappointed people when they discover it's not that simple. Some wannabe-expats have no idea what's involved in living abroad. It's dangerous and cruel to sell them this dream of travel and freedom.
    Completely untrue, Kay. I'd appreciate it if YOU stopped spreading misinformation. I know plenty of product-based eCommerce entrepreneurs that live/work in SEAsia. Saying it can't be done clearly shows you don't know what you're talking about.

    You're claiming that I'm either lying (and selling something) or ignorant (and don't know any better). Not everyone can be an expat entrepreneur. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Not everyone can be a basketball player, painter, or cobbler either. I don't think we should avoid sharing our stories that some might appreciate and find inspirational with the worry that someone who isn't capable will fail.

    You know what I think is dangerous and cruel? Keeping people in boxes and telling them it's their place. Telling them it's too scary for them, they're not capable, etc.

  6. #15
    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by TryBPO View Post
    Completely untrue, Kay. I'd appreciate it if YOU stopped spreading misinformation. I know plenty of product-based eCommerce entrepreneurs that live/work in SEAsia. Saying it can't be done clearly shows you don't know what you're talking about.

    You're claiming that I'm either lying (and selling something) or ignorant (and don't know any better). Not everyone can be an expat entrepreneur. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Not everyone can be a basketball player, painter, or cobbler either. I don't think we should avoid sharing our stories that some might appreciate and find inspirational with the worry that someone who isn't capable will fail.
    I don't think you have a point - and you're taking this all too personally.

    Sharing stories is one thing. Getting real results is another. For myself, I've come in on the tail-end of every BOOM since 2008, got moneymaking results briefly, and wasted a lot of time trying to replicate those results, not realising that the time for "that style of making money" has passed.

    I know by now how I can make money from the web - even ignoring Gargyl changes and the rest. I am not doing most of it. Why? Because the tactics that work are hard-sell, and that is alien to my nature. The latest trend is this own-label goods on Amazon gig. It is a disguised hard sell, those people are selling $2 goods for $10.
    I could never deliver low value ...

    Quote Originally Posted by TryBPO View Post
    You know what I think is dangerous and cruel? Keeping people in boxes and telling them it's their place. Telling them it's too scary for them, they're not capable, etc.
    It doesn't hit home until you deliver goods to some poor person with a partly deranged relative, usually a mother or mother-in-law that is "not quite the full shilling" but is ordering goods from the TV shopping channel or the internet, willy-nilly. You have the package in your hand for the customer, and instead of being grateful, he's upset and bewildered at having another delivery he wasn't expecting and doesn't want.

    My wife is a sucker for words like "bargain", "50% off", "reduced to clear". I've got a house full of that stuff. She sells some of it at a monthly table top sale that benefits the local lifeboat, but that just gets part of the money back.

    Kay is not being vicious. She just dislikes the "hard sell". And in the current web market, that hard sell is what works - if you ignore Gargyl and use every means possible to get less discriminating traffic. So if you happen to be in the soft seller camp, it is frickin hard work to make sufficient web money to survive, let alone achieve PT (perpetual tourist) status.

    Looky, there are people that have achieved PT status and are able to run their business off the beach, etc. but they've done that in the past. The recent past is TOO LATE for the aspiring unternehmers on the way up. I'm using the German term because "entrepreneur" is not appropriate to the modern situation. Nobody is going to get a profit by doing doodly except connecting buyers and sellers, and that is what entrepreneurial activity is supposed to be about - buying cheap and selling dear.

    This is the opinion of a White Van Man. None of my other qualifications or experience are relevant.
    Last edited by crabfoot; 3 January 2014 at 8:23 pm.

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  8. #16
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    For the last 14 years (I started BritishExpat.com in Feb 2000), my core online business has been helping expats to achieve their goals. As well as the socialising aspect of building such a community - we have several discussion forums - much of it involves finding ways to overcome problems and also spotting potential opportunities to earn a living abroad. As you'd expect, a lot of their concerns revolve around housing, work, health provision, schools, and all the usual aspects of life which many people consider to be essential.

    Working in the expat niche is about showing people how they CAN. It would be a strange kind of expat site whose ethos was to tell people they can't do things.

    However, as I said in my Plan B blog post of 2011, those wishing to live overseas should be aware of what they're getting themselves into.

    ...there are plenty of hidden costs which people often don't think about, such as private medical insurance (c 2,000 p/a). With Thailand specifically, you have to leave the country every 90 days (tourist visa), so for extended stays you have to budget for all the trips away (unless you can get a different type of visa - difficult and often expensive).
    The big point in my blog post is that these extra costs must be budgeted for. Taking away trips can be great. It's not so enjoyable if you can't afford these trips or have to do the "visa run" by the cheapest means possible.

    Medical treatment can be inexpensive compared to the West, especially the USA. That's why medical tourism is so popular. But medical tourism excursions are planned and budgeted for. It's not so easy when you're hit with a hefty bill for hospital treatment and you can't afford to pay for it. Treatment in the best hospitals is comparable to the top international standards, but it comes with a big price tag. Obviously you can't plan when something goes wrong or you have an accident, but you can have a contingency fund for it, or insurance. It's not cheap to stay in a top hospital!

    For example, I spent nearly three weeks in November this year in one of Thailand's top hospitals. I sure as hell didn't expect or plan to fracture my spine. The bill came to well over 10,000. For most people, 10k is a lot of money to pay unexpectedly. I was OK because the insurance picked up the tab. Whew! I'd have been a very unhappy camper if I'd had to pay for that out of my own pocket. But I'd planned for such eventualities.

    Quote Originally Posted by crabfoot
    Looky, there are people that have achieved PT status and are able to run their business off the beach, etc. but they've done that in the past. The recent past is TOO LATE for the aspiring unternehmers on the way up.
    I've seen a lot of MMO products, and even tried more than a few. I agree with crabfoot, what I've observed is a lot of tired old recipes and rags to riches stories about how Joe Guru got rich. Maybe he did. But times have changed and Mr Guru's way doesn't work any more. It still makes money for him as long as people are buying into his idea and paying him for it. These MMO "ideas" seem to go in waves of what's "flavour of the month". FBA, which crabfoot mentioned, was the big flavour of October/November last year. And the idea of business on the beach seems to be growing in popularity.

    Having been an expat for about 25 years (it would have been nearer 30 but my expat life was punctuated with enforced stays in the UK), I think that promoting the idea of business on the beach is misleading and potentially dangerous. It's a completely unrealistic view of how life could be for most people. As well as my own experience, running an expat site for many years has given me a fantastic insight into the realities of living overseas in many countries.

    I would never tell anyone they can't do it. People CAN be successful and happy overseas but they need to be realistic about their goals. They need to face the fact that it's not as easy as it perhaps once was. They need to beware of those people whose core business is to sell dreams.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

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  9. #17
    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    Kay, and gang,

    You've pretty much summed up my experience after seven years of living abroad. While definitely fun in interesting, and I'm glad I did it, and will do it again, the 'unspoken' hassles of living in a foreign country outweigh the benefits. I'm the first one to admit, I don't agree on the direction my country is heading. So much so that in 2004, I left in disgust. Not disgust of my country, but disgust of my government. I knew what I was getting into, I had lived overseas for years on end at that point. I spoke the language of the country I was going to. I had friends there, and I had a way to make money. It was a considered, and planned, move. However, even with those advantages I underestimated the difficulties. Visas, healthcare, education, and not understanding the nuances (and no one understands the nuances of a culture unless you are a native) of a culture did me in.

    I didn't find the cost of living cheaper in SE Asia. Once you factored in the various (hidden) costs associated with being a foreigner, there were no savings. In fact, at the time, I figured out there was a net cost loss of 12K per annum dealing with the "extras" that are normal to a Western person. Could I have lived cheaper? Yes, of course. But I didn't go there to live a life of deprivation. I went there to add to my life, not subtract from it. And yes, I could have sat on a beach with my laptop. However, I could have sat on the beach in California cheaper. With no visa hassles, access to first class education for my child, and healthcare, while expensive, wasn't a situation of "no money, no life."

    90 days visa runs, when you have children, isn't something to look forward to. Foreign schools can run 15K a year and more. Getting the food you're used to, wipes out any cost savings there. Eating like a local is great, but not 24/7/365. The food you eat is part of who you are. Living in a decent house in a good moo ban costs about the same as the US. Cars are much more expensive. This isn't to say I regret it. I don't. However, living abroad as a foreigner, unless you have enough money to do so, isn't simple, nor as easy as it is portrayed. All things considered, I figured it costs twice to three times as much to live abroad, in the same lifestyle as it does to live in the US.

    I still love living abroad though, and miss it.

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    I've considered living abroad for a period of time, mostly in SE Asia as well, but what currently stops me might sound somewhat strange.. but I think it might be a bit lonely, at least at first, as a single guy. I'd love to hear how you dealt with that. Connecting with the local expats communities, or trying to immerse yourself into the local life?

  12. #19
    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    It does, of course, depend on where you are going in SE Asia, but I wouldn't let the thought of being lonely stop you. In any event, I think it would be the opposite. You also might be in for a pleasant surprise. For example, I used to wonder where all the free thinkers and artists went to in the US. If anything, the US used to be a place for the off-beat, and the different weren't hassled. Now, of course, it's like they all disappeared. Well, I found them. They all left the country and haven't looked back. You'll also find quite a few self-made millionaires, and the REAL entrepreneurs that America was famous for. If anything, I think it might be the opposite. I found myself wanting to get away from my own countrymen. You'll also find a lot of losers and rejects too. But that's another story. It's like anywhere else, pick and choose your friends carefully and you won't have a problem. To say that there are "plenty of places" for a single guy, is an understatement, believe me.

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    I don't pop in very often...glad I did today. The thought of being a lonely single guy in SE Asia...sorry, but that will last about 5 seconds inn some places - you'll be wishing you had time alone within a week. Ideally, expats both blend in locally and also have other expats friends. As a group, I've found expats to be rather friendly and helpful to newcomers. If you're a newcomer to San Francisco, nobody will care. But if you are a newcomer to a new country, there are usually plenty of helpful expats to help out. That said, some people tend to hang exclusively with expats - and that's a mistake. Those groups tend to spend a lot of time complaining about things in their host country, and that can be quite a negative influence. So get out and meet locals. But try to meet locals that aren't just trying to take advantage of you, a concern especially in poorer countries. Quite often, the things about a foreign culture that seem odd (or even stupid) when you first arrive start to make sense as you blend in. The more you immerse yourself, the more you learn.

    I remember my first night in Tokyo - I found a pub in Roppongi (not too difficult) that was filled with expats. I was new and filled with curiosity about the place, but almost everyone I talked to was highly negative about Japan. Shortly after, I made other friends quickly. I hosted a party after a little over a month in a town where i formerly knew nobody. You can make friends quickly. Many expats will move on to other countries, or back home, but the ties remain. Of course, I still know many expats who are filled with complaints about the country, but I avoid them. In general, I find they are people who will always complain about something, wherever they are. (Not to say I don't complain - an occasional rant is therapeutic. But it shouldn't become a habit.)

    I can really identify with dsieg58 (funny name, that). I find America to be an increasingly unpleasant place and a blossoming police state. I don't even want to get into the sex and drug problems that seem to plague kids there. Yes, it can be expensive to raise kids overseas, but I think it's considerably cheaper if you are single. Kids add school costs and other items that can be significant. And then the trips overseas, or to visit family, suddenly become many times more expensive (and difficult to plan) than when you are single.

    Odd, but I find Japan top be more friendly to small business than America is. Much more friendly, despite the massive bureaucracy. The secret is that they pay very little attention to you until you grow to a certain size - but by that time, hopefully, you can afford to play the game. Tiny little shops and restaurants pop up all over the place with a bare minimum of investment. You don't heaps of licenses, approvals or other stuff. Just set up and go. Taxes are simple and straightforward, and if there's an issue they usually discuss it with you reasonably, rather than seize your property and threaten jail if you don't comply. At times, the bureaucracy can be a real headache here, but they are usually reasonably polite and eventually things get worked out if you are polite as well. Basically, people want to get along - and I find that attractive. And, as conformist as Japan can seem, there's a huge amount of tolerance for eccentricities.

    The world is a much more connected place now, and living overseas is 100 times easier than it was 20 years ago. And there's a huge advantage to having a second culture/country that you are comfortable in... you never know when your home country might become unbearable.

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