Tips on Choosing a Thai Partner for Starting a Business in Thailand
After publishing my hub on how to start a business in Thailand I have been receiving a lot of emails on the subject of finding reliable Thai partners to do business in Thailand. Or if I can help find recommendations for suitable partners in Thailand who are willing to invest with a total stranger. And 'stranger' is the operative word because no one in their right mind would invest their money with a total stranger. Or would they? The answer is yes. Matter of fact I have been offered many business proposals for opening many types of business in Thailand. I'm flattered, but I'm a total complete stranger too.
The most email questions I receive are the ones asking my opinion if a bar girl working in Bangkok's nightlife industry can become a trustworthy partner. I know lots of foreigners who come to Bangkok and enjoy the company of bar girls or even someone they've met on a Thai dating website and even Facebook.
Before I should continue I would just like to add that what I write comes from experience. I started my business in Bangkok first by working in Thailand for many years. Since then I have cultivated many friendships and not only know my close Thai friends personally but their families as well.
I know there a lot of people who want to start a business in Thailand starting from scratch so it will be a lot more difficult. And it is for those I am writing this hub in hopes of starting them off in the right direction. Because my first few advice is to live in Thailand for at least 3 years to get a feel of what you will be investing in. And having a fair grasp of the Thai language is also a must.
So back to the question that most want answered. Is it possible to start and have a successful business in Thailand with a bar girl? I suppose so. It has happened before. And there are quite a few happy and content expats living in Thailand with successful small businesses through collaborative efforts with former bar girls. Of course there are also plenty of horror stories that outnumber the successful ones by far.
As much as there are stories of successful businesses start-ups between ladies working in the sex industry and foreigners there are a whole lot more stories of such relationships taking a dive off the deep end thus ending the relationship before the first sale is rung on the cash register.
The business dynamics in the West are a whole lot different in the East when there is a huge rift both in culture and the way one perceives each other or the expectations from each other.
Yet that's what happens a lot between foreigners and ladies working in the bar scene and sex industry. Part of the reason why foreigners would want to start a business in Thailand readily is because it's cheaper. Labor and materials for most start-up businesses in Thailand is much lower than it is in the west. Plus there are a lot less regulations. But that's not enough reason to throw money away.
A lot of my tips and advice on vetting a suitable Thai partner is based on common sense. So I hope the information here can become a guide because I do wish anyone starting a business in Thailand success.
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This is an excellent book filled with helpful information as well as success stories from foreigners and Thai partners.
Getting to Know Your Thai Partner / Bar Girl
Would you start a business in your home country with a total complete stranger? How about a prostitute? I'm quite sure a vast majority would say no. You see, tourists who visit Bangkok's red light districts frequently are surrounded by bar girls whom can communicate in English in a country where English is not widely spoken. In essence tourists are mainly exposed to a social circle that can be harmful to their wallet and sensibility.
I'm probably going to catch a lot of flack for writing this but the simple fact is that most girls working the nightlife industry are gold diggers. Foreign men should tread lightly partnering with a bar girl. Many men throw their money away by starting a business in Thailand with a bar girl on a whim. And that practice should stop.
That said I'd like to go on record to say that not all women working in Thailand's sex industry are evil harpies out to milk a tourists smitten with puppy love. Again, there are many successful ventures between those working in the industry and foreigners. One of my best friends is married to a former bar girl and for 8 years they have been running a successful bed and breakfast inn in Thailand. My friend's wife says she had been working in bars for 2 years and she hated it. But it was what she had to do to support her family. And today she is a great mother, loving wife a responsible business partner and a dear friend of mine.
(Funny thing is when I asked my friend's wife if she would like to add anything to this article, her direct quote was "Never trust a bar girl." and to that my best friend added "Mate, I dodged a bullet.")
Many women want a way out of the industry and one way is by partnering with a foreigner with some cash. I've personally seen such partnerships work very well in respects to both personal and business. In a way, their partnership/relationship has worked towards each others benefit.
Age plays a major factor too. Sadly many young Thai girls in their late teens work in the country's bar scene. In many ways they are immature and uneducated with no practical business experience except street smarts. Letting someone with no maturity handle a large sum of money is not an ideal partner no matter what country you want to live in.
If you want a reliable partner my advice is to stay away from bar girls. But if you really want to start a business in Thailand but feel that you have no other alternative then ask yourself these questions:
Who do they surround themselves with? Who are their closest personal and best friends? What are all of them like? Most importantly, what are their family members like?
Having these questions answered will probably take some time. And it should. Stepping back and taking a deep look at your Thai partner's lifestyle should be a major focus. And once a business has been started it is a good idea to insist that your partner cut the cord from her past lifestyle
Social Networking - On the Web and Off
Everyone around the world seems to be on Facebook these days. Thais are also addicted to the web's most proliferate social web life. You can actually meet many like minded individuals or even groups of educated professionals who just might be the perfect Thai partner.
Okay, so there are lots of psychopaths with a keyboard, monitor, internet access with a Facebook account. It goes without saying you should be wary with whom you meet on the Internet. Again, it's all common sense that you should not trust anyone as far as you can throw them. So if you do plan to make friends in Thailand through Facebook with what you have in common it's best to keep it to yourself by not exposing your business plan before ample time has passed.
Sure, there is a possibility you'd come across a scam artists on Facebook. Your potential Thai partner will think the same of you too. So again, take some time to cultivate a friendship before committing fully to starting a business in Thailand with a Thai partner.
You can also network off the web but you'll first have to find such networks on the web. Take a look at http://socialnetwork.meetup.com/cities/th/bangkok and make some friends. Because if you're planning to live and start a business in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand it's good to establish new friends with common hobbies and interest.
There are a lot of educated professionals in Thailand working in foreign companies. Most are working and living in Bangkok though. And there is a good chance they can speak fluent English so communication is not a big hurdle. If you can establish a good friendship through time you might be able to have a Thai business partner you can trust.
Even though the odds are against you for finding a Thai business partner through social meet ups at least networking through a group of Thai friends can perhaps lead you to the right direction to a successful business in Thailand.
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