A 56-year-old man writes in wanting to know about specific, factual data on what business is the best for a foreigner his age to start. While statistics and data can be useful, there are a host of intangibles that can negate what looks to be the sure thing.
Below is the letter he sent and my response.
Have you or others ever researched out a particular subject that has probably never been asked in one of your letters on the YouTube channel? What particular business, food, or otherwise would be the best for a 56-year-old male to start/open up?
I have some of the information you are looking for in the member’s section of my website. I have a Thailand specific 2016 version of a PDF from the World Bank (see below) that has a plethora of information.
Also, check with the Thai Board of Investment. They might be able to help you. In January of 2016, the BOI reported a 78% decrease in investments. Vietnam has been reporting record increases in foreign investments.
The other is the
I think you might want to approach your goal from a different angle.
1. The business opportunities you can legally start are limited. Take a look at the prohibited jobs list on my website. I’ll put the link below.
2. The success of your business, whatever it may be, will be dependent on your qualifications and start-up capital. If you’re one of these guys who thinks you’re going to put $10-$20K into a business and it’s going to make you enough to live, the success rate for these business is low and rate of return low. IMO, you are better off doing something like this in Cambodia.
3. Countless foreigners have dreams of opening a bed and breakfast, beachside bungalow, coffee shop, internet cafe/guest house, yada yada yada. Most fail. The market is saturated.
4. Since you are a foreigner, you are starting out at a disadvantage. Why? Because you are not Thai. This is where a trustworthy Thai partner can help.
5. One advantage that you have is you are an American, which means you can use the Treaty of Amity and in some cases, not all, own 100% of your business. However, I do know an American who opened a business here in Bangkok and in his words, it was more expensive to start his business because of this, it took far longer, and the Thais he dealt with in the government were somewhat apathetic about the treaty. Eventually he moved his business to Singapore, although he still lives here in Thailand. He is just one case though and whatever you do, get a good lawyer.
IMO - the food business is the way to go because WE ALL GOTTA EAT.
The bar business or go-go business or any business that relies strictly on tourists is NOT.
The only foreigners I know who have been successful with bars or go-gos are those who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. In one case, several million.
It can be done, but these bars are run by foreigners who were willing to lose a considerable amount of money in the beginning, continue to pump money into their establishment, and most importantly, who knew Thailand and the bar business.
All of those I know who had no experience failed.
Those who succeeded had beer bars/Go-Go bars that were either run by trustworthy Thais they knew for many years and who they paid very well or by their wife. In all but one of these establishments, the owners were on the premises almost every single minute of every single day.
I also know two guys who owned a place in Nana Plaza who had been in Thailand for many years and by the time they were done paying the staff, the lease, the police, and everything else, they were lucky to break even. In their words, the place was basically a place to keep them busy and where their friends could come to drink.
Thailand is an export heavy economy and exports are declining. Personal debt is rising.
and there is always the risk of political problems.
Your question was: “What particular business, food, or otherwise would be the best for a 56-year-old male to start/open up?”
There is no one size fits all answer to your question and I think if you begin with:
What businesses are viable FOR ME?
What is legal in Thailand?
What experience do I have?
How well do I know the country and its’ culture?
How much money do I have to spend and how much can I afford to lose.
I think you will be far better off asking yourself these questions AND looking at data from the BOI and what I have on my site.
Opening a business is always risky, and doing so is like starting a relationship with a woman. If you don’t know the business, the culture and the language, you are starting out behind the 8-ball. Don’t give more than you can afford to lose…hope this helps.