10 things to do before starting your business in Thailand

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If you are looking to start a business in Thailand and you are a foreigner, there is one important mantra and that is, you must ‘localize, localize and localize’, to make sure your project becomes a successful venture.

Yes, its true there are many foreigners who have started businesses in Thailand and have closed shop but there are also many successful foreign entrepreneurs in Thailand who have understood that Thailand is a unique market and have taken the time to get a clear understanding on various aspects of the marketplace.

And while being culturally sensitive is a good thing, too many foreigners focus on this one aspect and believe that if they get this one thing right they have the key to the Thai market. Not Quite. So we are not talking here about, how you must not touch a Thai person’s head, show aggressiveness and anger and never, ever make a Thai lose face. All true. However there are many articles out there written about the ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ in Thailand and one read with a healthy dose of common sense should be sufficient for anyone to absorb the gist of it.

We are talking about something more fundamental here. Something that can make or break your business. Understanding if you have the right concept and business in mind and how to go about executing it in the Thai market & environment with the help and support of  local professionals is of paramount importance in your preparation stage.

Local businesses offering professional services can be either expat or Thai owned and both can offer valuable insights and information about the Thai market, albeit from varying viewpoints. We suggest investing in a substantial amount of time and financial resources in shopping around and employing your support team of  local professionals before you start your venture. You simply need to be fully aware of the challenges that you will face.

How to start a business and the professionals you need

  1. Check visa & work permit rules and regulations, consult professionals on types of visa required, the procedure timeline, steps and estimates on costs you can expect.
  2. Consult on the legal framework of your company with legal professionals. Determine your business’ legal structure that would be most appropriate for your type of business. Lawyers and law agencies can also help you vet out any business deals and contracts for your benefit.
  3. Research and review accounting & tax requirements for the type of business you are looking to engage in. Managing accounts and taxation on your own can be overwhelming and an accountant can absorb much of the workload by handling your accounts and taxes. However, you do not necessarily need to hire one of your own.Many professional accounting & taxations consultants and agencies are available that you can employ to ensure your company’s financial health.
  4. Take expert advice from HR consultants who can handle recruitment, employment rules, the HR function of your business and getting HR costs under control. HR consultants can play a major role in the smooth running of your start up especially if you are a foreigner looking to hire Thai staff.
  5. Contact agents to help you find a location for your business or a business for you to buy. Most business for sale and property agents will also assist you in negotiations with the seller or landlord. The services will generally be free until you finalise the deal. Agents normally charge a percentage of the total transaction value.
  6. Find business consultants that can chart a course of success for your business, helping you identify time-tested strategies, making the most of your resources to make smarter business decisions based on detailed analysis of market data. A few of advisory services you can expect include business operations consulting, financial consultaing,investment consulting and technology consulting.
  7.  Plan your marketing strategy with marketing consultants who will research the market and the segment in which you plan to launch your business in. Professional marketing consultants are experts on analysis of market trends and dynamics. Their services can include but not limited to  identifying your target market, competitors and creating a dynamic marketing strategy.
  8. Social Media Marketing is no longer an option for businesses looking to make an impact in the Thai market where presence in social media is essential. Social Media Marketing consultants can help you in conceptualising, creating and executing creative campaigns to elevate your brand, lead generation and conversion.
  9. Identifying professional and businesses that provide services for website solutions to marketing materials. Website hosting, designing, programming, content writing and SEO professionals is what you are looking for under website solutions while graphic designers, photographers, videographers may be required for your other marketing materials. Its best to plan the time frame and cost involved before starting your project.
  10. If you decide to take the plunge and start a business in Thailand, learn Thai. Start from basic conversation all the way to business Thai and you will find conversations with locals much more productive and rewarding particularly in your business experience. Many reputable Thai language schools and courses for foreigners are available in all major cities of Thailand.

Starting a business is a challenge no doubt but if you are patient and persistent in your preparation you will find the way much smoother. And remember there is no such thing as being too prepared.

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