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Tips for Doing Business in Thailand

Thailand is not only a great destination for tourists, teachers and students but also for entrepreneurs. Being a country that offers an affordable lifestyle, many people from other countries including expats have been encouraged to put up their own businesses in the different parts of the country such as Chiang Mai, Bangkok or on the popular beaches notably in Phuket.

Starting a small business in Thailand is possible for non-citizens. If you have the drive to learn the Thai culture and committed to staying long here, you have every opportunity to earn an income from being an entrepreneur. However, what's important is you plan it well and follow the business laws of the country. This way, you start on the right foot and avoid legal issues moving forward.

Steps to Take

Anybody wishing to open a small business in Thailand must first secure an appropriate visa depending on your length of stay. Foreigners who want to invest could get a three-year non-immigrant visa B prior to their arrival. Although 1 year multiple entry visas and 90 day single entry business visas are more common. A multiple entry visa allows multiple entries each for a duration of up to 90 days for a period of three years.

Take note as well that the country's Foreign Business Act (FBA) requires foreigners to obtain an alien business operation permit from the Director-General of the Department of Commercial Registration and this has to be approved by the Foreign Business Committee.

Another vital step to take is to make a business plan. This needs to be well-thought of and should contain all the important details of the business you want to put up.

You will also have to prepare your capital. Do understand that renting a commercial space in prime locations such as in the city would cost you more than if you open in other parts of the country. Manual labor and construction should be taken into account as well particularly if you plan to hire one or more staff. Other expenses to consider are your utilities including electricity and water. 

Once this is complete, you can then start applying for a business license. Should you feel unsure about going solo, however, then you could opt to partner with a local. By having a Thai partner, you can set up a Thai limited company and operate a small business. This way, you will not be restricted by the Foreign Business Act and the Alien Business Act. For American citizens, the US-Thai Treaty of Amity provides many benefits including the ability to 100% own and operate a Thai company.

Promoting your business before you open is also important. This will make people aware of your existence and what you're offering. Then onward, you need to consistently promote your products and services most especially on social media where millions of people hang out today.

Finally, do create a backup or exit plan just in case things will not go as you planned. Being prepared is better than being caught off guard. Unless you're staying in Thailand for good, you need to know what to do in the event your business fails.