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Thoughts on starting a business in Hua Hin as a foreigner?


kimura89

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Yes, I know I can’t do this right now, or anytime soon for that matter. In fact this is something I’m not planning on jumping into  for another 5 or so years COVID permitting. Just doing some research at the moment.

 

Short version - I have aspirations to open my own martial arts gym (Jiu Jitsu/MMA) in Thailand. The obvious choices would be in BKK or Chiang Mai, or even Phuket - as there are a number of gyms there already that have been operating for years, so it’s doable. But just exploring other options as well location wise, I’ve been to Hua Hin a number of times and definitely enjoy the town itself, but from a business perspective how feasible is it if you’re not in the restaurant/cafe or clothing game?

 

A lot of memberships come from predominantly expats or middle to upper class Thais. So unsure how that population is represented in HH? Any and all insights appreciated, or other suggestions for location.

 

I’m not looking or expecting to make absolute bank out of this - enough to live comfortably.

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5 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

I have aspirations to open my own martial arts gym (Jiu Jitsu/MMA) in Thailand

Considering the average age of the clientele in Hua hin is over 60's it's probably not the best place to set up an MMA gym.

Might be better off in Pattaya or Phuket.

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5 years or so to a country like Thailand is virtually impossible.

Who would of thought just 18 months ago that we would all be in this boat.

 

Thailand at the best of times is totally unpredictable and totally unstable, with constant political changes. This is all made even more complicated by the constant shifting sands of immigration/visas issues.

 

If you really are thinking 5 yrs ahead, revist this topic when you are going to actually do it and not just dream of doing it atleast that way you will be dealibg with what is and not what "might" be.

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2 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

5 years or so to a country like Thailand is virtually impossible.

Who would of thought just 18 months ago that we would all be in this boat.

 

Thailand at the best of times is totally unpredictable and totally unstable, with constant political changes. This is all made even more complicated by the constant shifting sands of immigration/visas issues.

 

If you really are thinking 5 yrs ahead, revist this topic when you are going to actually do it and not just dream of doing it atleast that way you will be dealibg with what is and not what "might" be.

I don’t see the harm in doing some light recon beforehand.


Things like demographic, info on what businesses are feasible in HH etc aren’t likely to change drastically in 5 years. Point taken on visas/immigration and political unstableness.

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23 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

A lot of memberships come from predominantly expats or middle to upper class Thais. So unsure how that population is represented in HH? Any and all insights appreciated, or other suggestions for location.

 

Udon Thani is your oyster.

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5 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

I don’t see the harm in doing some light recon beforehand.


Things like demographic, info on what businesses are feasible in HH etc aren’t likely to change drastically in 5 years. Point taken on visas/immigration and political unstableness.

Sorry but you are very wrong, the demographic will and has changed dramatically because of Covid and what lies ahead no one knows, you would be working on pure speculation and no facts. Best of luck whatever you decide. 

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20 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

Just doing some research at the moment.

i have lived in Hua Hin for seven years.

i would say right now that the martial arts gym thing is totally saturated here under normal conditions and totally decimated now because of covid.

same with normal gyms. the rate that new businesses of all types pop up and then fail within a year is appalling.

check in again in five years because that is how long it will take to rebuild all the businesses that have gone out of business in the last 12 months. and we are only 50% done with covid.

 

good luck.

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1 minute ago, NCC1701A said:

i have lived in Hua Hin for seven years.

i would say right now that the martial arts gym thing is totally saturated here under normal conditions and totally decimated now because of covid.

same with normal gyms. the rate that new businesses of all types pop up and then fail within a year is appalling.

check in again in five years because that is how long it will take to rebuild all the businesses that have gone out of business in the last 12 months. and we are only 50% done with covid.

 

good luck.

Thanks man 🙂 

 

Martial Arts gym is a pretty broad term - I can see Muay Thai gyms being oversaturated, wouldn’t even dare going down that road (I don’t train MT anyway). 
 

But Jiu Jitsu as far as I know there’s no gyms in HH right now. Bangkok has 3 or 4 and there’s 1 in Phuket and Chiang Mai. It’s nowhere near the popularity of Muay Thai and never will be, but it’s definitely a growing fast in popularity in Thailand , at least before COVID.
 

Point taken about the uncertainty in general though.

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Starting a business means you have to register it. Thai business means 51% Thai ownership, 49% foreign ownership. To get a work permit you need at least to pay social security for 4 persons even if you don't employ 4 people. But more importantly is if they grant you a work permit. Martial art is not a kind of business where Thailand depends on foreigners. So maybe they refuse it. I don't know anything about martial arts. I do know gyms in general are quite expensive compared to my home country in Europe.  So price wise there are possibilities to be successful.  In Hua Hin are already several martial art schools. I don't know if they have a waiting list. For now not I guess not. What I do miss in Hua Hin are groups sessions of Zumba, aqaurobics, Pilates,  etc. Keep in mind the senior population.

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21 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

Thanks man 🙂 

 

Martial Arts gym is a pretty broad term - I can see Muay Thai gyms being oversaturated, wouldn’t even dare going down that road (I don’t train MT anyway). 
 

But Jiu Jitsu as far as I know there’s no gyms in HH right now. Bangkok has 3 or 4 and there’s 1 in Phuket and Chiang Mai. It’s nowhere near the popularity of Muay Thai and never will be, but it’s definitely a growing fast in popularity in Thailand , at least before COVID.
 

Point taken about the uncertainty in general though.

you should follow your dream but coming here to start a business requires massive planning and research on your part. people who fail at just retiring here give no thought on how to proceed. 

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16 minutes ago, NCC1701A said:

you should follow your dream but coming here to start a business requires massive planning and research on your part. people who fail at just retiring here give no thought on how to proceed. 

Oh I definitely plan on doing this, at the moment I’m just in $$ saving/investing mode as much as possible to have enough funds to survive for the first year at least. And getting a feel for what’s required in terms of red tape, capital requirements etc etc etc.

 

The latter could all and likely will change in 5 years when I actually plan on doing this. But no harm in doing a bit of research. I currently work in project management so am pretty OCD around timelines, planning and generally being prepared.

 

edit: Also, if people are wondering what’s with the 5 year timeline, it’s actually not to do with COVID though that would’ve pushed things out anyway. I want to get my Black Belt first, or my Brown Belt at least.

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Not even if you bring Bruce Lee as an instructor you can make money from such enterprise, this is a business to target the few, sorry, but i can't see this kind of business turning a decent earn worth the hassles of having a business in Thailand as a foreigner...

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Go for it. Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to people who have never started their own business. 
They remain workers and remain average for a reason. 
 

I have a mate who was very successful in Pattaya. He made a lot of money from international people coming in from all over the world to do two week intensive camps. Pattaya was handy as you can get direct flights to Swampy. 
He relocated to Australia for his kids education and has found it way more difficult there with all the regulations, tax and council red tape. 
 

Thais love fighting, it is their national sport, cock and bull fighting is popular, and fighting between schools is legendary here. If you are half decent the Thais will like you. 
 

I would advise since you have 5 years up your sleeve, learn to speak and write Thai language. It will make everything so much easier, open doors and you will get more respect.
If you can get a Pooyai baan, gamnan, Senior policeman or high ranking government official behind you it will make everything a lot easier. Many advantages from that. 

 

I can’t really advise you much on Hua Hin demographics. Have a long look around before you choose a location. The one that isn’t the most obvious might be the best. 

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6 minutes ago, Natai Beach said:

Go for it. Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to people who have never started their own business. 
They remain workers and remain average for a reason. 
 

I have a mate who was very successful in Pattaya. He made a lot of money from international people coming in from all over the world to do two week intensive camps. Pattaya was handy as you can get direct flights to Swampy. 
He relocated to Australia for his kids education and has found it way more difficult there with all the regulations, tax and council red tape. 
 

Thais love fighting, it is their national sport, cock and bull fighting is popular, and fighting between schools is legendary here. If you are half decent the Thais will like you. 
 

I would advise since you have 5 years up your sleeve, learn to speak and write Thai language. It will make everything so much easier, open doors and you will get more respect.
If you can get a Pooyai baan, gamnan, Senior policeman or high ranking government official behind you it will make everything a lot easier. Many advantages from that. 

 

I can’t really advise you much on Hua Hin demographics. Have a long look around before you choose a location. The one that isn’t the most obvious might be the best. 

Thanks, doing anything out of the ordinary is always going to be met with some resistance. Most of the time it’s coming from a good place so I don’t take it personally. This is one of those ventures that if I don’t at least give it a try, I’ll be lying on my deathbed regretting I didn’t back myself. So I’m going to do it, just a matter of where and when.
 

I appreciate the practical advice! 

 

 

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1 minute ago, kimura89 said:

Thanks, doing anything out of the ordinary is always going to be met with some resistance. Most of the time it’s coming from a good place so I don’t take it personally. 
 

I appreciate the practical advice!

 

 


if I was you I would do a bit of a fight gym tour of Thailand. See how others are doing it, any issues, etc etc. 

 

But you have 5 years. If you learn Thai in that time I guarantee you will be more successful and it will be so much easier. Learn the alphabet first, don’t waste your time learning with transliteration. Heaps online, YouTube etc free. 
 

Don’t worry about Thai red tape too much, you will find their isn’t much for what you want to do, you will need a company to get yourself a work permit, employ four Thais, it isn’t difficult, just filling out forms. 
An experienced lawyer is helpful in that regard. I am happy to pay people to handle that side of things for me because I am lazy to do it myself.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Natai Beach said:

If you can get a Pooyai baan, gamnan, Senior policeman or high ranking government official behind you it will make everything a lot easier. Many advantages from that. 

Yeah sure. And after you pay for everything and worked 24/7 to make it a successful business then one of your high ranking Thai partners will tell you something like: Thank for building it up. I will take care of it now.

And then? What will you do? Complain? Cry? Or go home and think about what you made wrong?

Obviously it must not happen like this. But it seems to be not unusual at all. Be careful, and especially be careful with influential people who you think will help you.

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34 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Yeah sure. And after you pay for everything and worked 24/7 to make it a successful business then one of your high ranking Thai partners will tell you something like: Thank for building it up. I will take care of it now.

And then? What will you do? Complain? Cry? Or go home and think about what you made wrong?

Obviously it must not happen like this. But it seems to be not unusual at all. Be careful, and especially be careful with influential people who you think will help you.


More paranoia.

 

i have known quite a few foreign business people who have had the contacts and as a result been more successful because of it.

 

None of them were cheated. 
 

Since you are convinced it will happen, you must know of many cases personally , or at least one. 
 

Can you give us the details of what happened, who the Thai was or what rank he was and in which province. 

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1 hour ago, kimura89 said:

Thanks, doing anything out of the ordinary is always going to be met with some resistance.

I would not say it's out of the ordinary, for the past 15 years many people have come to train and some stayed opening their own gyms, often taking one of the trainers who had convinced them there was a fortune to be made. Phuket has huge gyms doing MT, MMA, yoga etc. They are all closed or about to close, most will never reopen.

 

There are several in Pattaya, Chiang Mai and plenty in Bkk. Lots of ppl dream of owning a bar, restaurant or gym, which means cut throat pricing and competition not just for students, but also for trainers, sponsored athletes and SM influencers.

 

Thailand has indicated it doesn't want tourism at previuos levels. I don't think that demand for gyms will ever be what it was pre covid.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Natai Beach said:


More paranoia.

 

i have known quite a few foreign business people who have had the contacts and as a result been more successful because of it.

 

None of them were cheated. 
 

Since you are convinced it will happen, you must know of many cases personally , or at least one. 
 

Can you give us the details of what happened, who the Thai was or what rank he was and in which province. 

I think you're suggesting one curry favor with influential figures and they will help with any problems. Considering that one is not being benevolent in forming these relationships, it's naive to think that the influential ppl wouldn't also be looking out for themselves.

 

We are not locals, why would a powerful Thai be so keen to help? Sure it has worked, but it's not something I would recommend.

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4 hours ago, kimura89 said:

Short version - I have aspirations to open my own martial arts gym (Jiu Jitsu/MMA) in Thailand.

Assume your gym will be randomly closed for 6 months in every year, with new waves/variants of CoVID, leaving you with no income but all the outgoings.

Then work out how long it will be before all your savings are gone.

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2 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:
3 hours ago, Natai Beach said:

If you can get a Pooyai baan, gamnan, Senior policeman or high ranking government official behind you it will make everything a lot easier. Many advantages from that. 

Yeah sure. And after you pay for everything and worked 24/7 to make it a successful business then one of your high ranking Thai partners will tell you something like: Thank for building it up. I will take care of it now.

And then? What will you do? Complain? Cry? Or go home and think about what you made wrong?

Obviously it must not happen like this. But it seems to be not unusual at all. Be careful, and especially be careful with influential people who you think will help you.

 

Scaremongering. The OP just needs to make sure to get all the police onside by offering them all free memberships.

 

The OP also needs to ensure that this lofty overhead is in his 5-year plan.

 

And don't forget that to make a million in Thailand, you need to start with 10 million.

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1 hour ago, Natai Beach said:
2 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Yeah sure. And after you pay for everything and worked 24/7 to make it a successful business then one of your high ranking Thai partners will tell you something like: Thank for building it up. I will take care of it now.

And then? What will you do? Complain? Cry? Or go home and think about what you made wrong?

Obviously it must not happen like this. But it seems to be not unusual at all. Be careful, and especially be careful with influential people who you think will help you.


More paranoia.

 

i have known quite a few foreign business people who have had the contacts and as a result been more successful because of it.

 

None of them were cheated. 
 

Since you are convinced it will happen, you must know of many cases personally , or at least one. 
 

Can you give us the details of what happened, who the Thai was or what rank he was and in which province. 

You joined Thai Visa 3 month ago and now you are the Thailand expert, correct?

I know examples were relations changed from good to bad. And I know from businesses were the farangs left Thailand and left their investment here because they preferred to live another day. 

Do I want to publish names here from such influential Thai people? You must be joking!

 

And if you read my post again you will notice that I didn't write it will happen. I also know successful businessmen in Thailand.

 

But coming back to that important Thai influential person relationship: You should know that almost anybody has some kind of relations to more or less influential people. If i.e. I would be arrested today for whatever reason I would call a friend who personally knows the police boss from a station in my area. And then? Let's say I was arrested because a Thai person accused me of xzy. Who was that Thai person who accused me? A nobody? Probably not. So let's say he was someone who thought he is influential enough to make problems to that farang (me). Will now the police boss, who knows my friend, use all his energy and his influence to help me? Why should he do that? Maybe he will, because I am such a nice guy or because I paid him x or y or offer him z if he helps me now. But maybe the other guy is just better connected and the police boss decides he won't stick his head out too much to help a guy who he doesn't really know so well.

 

My motto in Thailand is to stay small in business and don't create waves and don't try to play with the big guys. Being a nobody and staying out of "do you know who I know" has it's advantages.

 

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11 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

You joined Thai Visa 3 month ago and now you are the Thailand expert, correct?

 

What relevance is the length of TV membership got to do with a person's knowledge of Thailand?  < Rhetorical question as the answer is obviously "none whatsoever".

 

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7 minutes ago, Salerno said:

What relevance is the length of TV membership got to do with a person's knowledge of Thailand?  < Rhetorical question as the answer is obviously "none whatsoever".

None whatsoever is not entirely true.

Obviously a long time member does not have to be an expert and if someone is a new member that doesn't mean he has no experience.

But looking at the original post and the comment to my comment I am pretty sure that guys who are experienced in Thailand wouldn't have written these comments.

And most of the long time expats know farangs who had this great business idea or great investment opportunity which somehow didn't work out. Are all of them now bankrupt? No. But enough to make others think: Think twice what you want to do and where you want to invest your money.

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10 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

None whatsoever is not entirely true.

 

It's 100% correct. There is no correlation whatsoever between how long some has been a member here and their knowledge of Thailand, it was a stupid start to a post (that others have made too). As I understand it, based on his postings, the guy you where replying to has 3 or 4 decades of actual experience with Thailand and not just sitting on a bar stool like some of our glorious membership.

 

10 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

But looking at the original post and the comment to my comment I am pretty sure that guys who are experienced in Thailand wouldn't have written these comments.

 

Pretty sure doesn't make it a fact.

 

10 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

And most of the long time expats know farangs who had this great business idea or great investment opportunity which somehow didn't work out. Are all of them now bankrupt? No. But enough to make others think: Think twice what you want to do and where you want to invest your money.

 

Certainly not disagreeing with you on that, nor the thrust of your first post, just the silly stereotyping/assuming this site is (in)famous for.

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