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Posted on: 15th Jan 2015

BEWARE! For many foreigners, starting a business in a foreign country is one of the fastest routes to bankruptcy known to mankind! In fact, many foreigners who start a business abroad would be better off investing in lottery tickets - at least they would then have a chance of receiving a return on their investment! Many would?be entrepreneurs return home with literally only their shirts on their backs, having learnt the facts of life the hard way. If you aren't prepared to thoroughly research the market and obtain expert business and legal advice, then you shouldn't even think about starting a business abroad.

Generally speaking, you shouldn't consider running a business in a field in which you don't have previous experience. It's often advisable to work for someone else in the same line of business to gain experience, rather than jump in at the deep end. Always thoroughly investigate an existing or proposed business before investing any money.

            As any expert (and many failed entrepreneurs) will tell you, starting a business abroad isn't for amateurs, particularly amateurs who don't speak the local language.

            Many small businesses exist on a shoe-string, with owners literally living from hand to mouth, and they certainly aren't what could be considered thriving enterprises. Self?employed people usually work extremely long hours, particularly those running bars or restaurants (days off are almost impossible in the high season), often for little financial reward. In most countries many people choose to be self?employed for the lifestyle and freedom it affords (no clocks or bosses), rather than the money. It's important to keep your plans small and manageable, and work well within your budget, rather than undertake a grandiose scheme.

            If you're planning to buy or start a seasonal business based on tourism, check whether the potential 'real' income will be sufficient to provide you with a living. This applies particularly to bars, restaurants and shops in holiday resorts, especially those run by foreigners relying on the tourist trade, hundreds of which open and close within a short space of time. Don't overestimate the length of the season or the potential income and, most importantly, don't believe everything a person selling a business tells you (although every word may be true). Nobody sells a good business for a bargain price, least of all one making huge profits. In most areas, trade falls off dramatically out of the main holiday season (e.g. June to September in North America and Europe) and many businesses must survive for a whole year on the income earned in the summer months. The rest of the year you could be lucky to cover your costs.

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