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


kimura89

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6 minutes ago, PETERTHEEATER said:

Please provide a link to the official statistics for this data. Thank you.

I use my eyes mate.

I don't need stats. 

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5 hours 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.

Re any location you need to establish solid evidence of a good/regular income stream, and from whom and what happens if your membership base loses their income. Enough revenue to cover all operational/salary costs, marketing costs and competitive advantage costs, cash flow positive always plus a sizeable bank account to support down periods along with an attitude that down periods WILL happen, etc.  Plus you need to build a realistic/worst case scenario of business risks. All of the above are the basics of business. 

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if you are not the landlord where your business is*
it will be very difficult to stay afloat anywhere
this is the biggest problem with most businesses here even before the insanity started last year
but personally i would avoid any biz in any tourist town now until things change
if it is your dream to have a gym here
the gym must be a side hobby OR a *work from home biz IMO
better if you have already figured out how to stay here
what i have noticed is gyms that have kids (teens) classes are usually much busier

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5 minutes ago, Liverpoolfan said:

I use my eyes mate.

I don't need stats. 

First step to failure. You need to establish facts and ultimately make business decisions not heart/dream decisions. 

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1 hour ago, scorecard said:

Re any location you need to establish solid evidence of a good/regular income stream, and from whom and what happens if your membership base loses their income. Enough revenue to cover all operational/salary costs, marketing costs and competitive advantage costs, cash flow positive always plus a sizeable bank account to support down periods along with an attitude that down periods WILL happen, etc.  Plus you need to build a realistic/worst case scenario of business risks. All of the above are the basics of business. 

Now it would be a interesting statistic how many of those smart farang investors in Thailand thought about all that...

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6 hours ago, CharlieH said:

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. 

even prior to covid there were lots of failing business here. If you don't own the extremely priced land your rent will eat you alive unless you can get real steady income 12 months a year - good luck

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3 hours ago, mixed said:

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.


I am not talking about the Prime Minister or Governor. 
 

The Poo Yai baan will know what he is up to anyway. It is good to be open the front foot, especially if you can speak Thai. They like being notified first of what’s happening, it shows respect, and they lap it up. 
 

I am speaking from what I have seen and experienced in real life. 
 

Having a fight gym and being friends with the owner is also something that will be probably more exciting for a poo yai baan or gamnan than a farang who wants to open a beer bar or a farang restaurant. 
Thais like fighting. I am tipping the owner is a fighter, 

 

You become friendly with the Poo Yai Baan. He knows all the other Poo Yai Baans and the gamnan who is the leader of the local poo Yai baans who decide who is the gamnan. Then there is the Nayok Orbortor and then higher again is the Nayok Orborjor.
 

All these people know each other, work together sometimes.
Handy to be friendly with them. 
They like to know what is going on on their turf. That is part of their job.  
 

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3 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

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


sorry mate, I didn’t realise being a member on this forum was how to become an expert on Thailand. 
 

I was telling him from experience in the real world, not from what I read here. And specially two people who have actually owned fight gyms. 

some of the information, news and theories I have read on this forum has been wrong. People just imagine stuff and post it as fact.
I also advised him to learn how to read and speak Thai, which obviously a lot/most/ nearly all of the longer term TVF contributors can not do.
Experts who can’t understand anyone or read? That is amazing when you think about it. 
 

 

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8 hours ago, kimura89 said:

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

Agreed and the OP could look at where new developments/infrastructure projects are taking place rather than having a fixed location in mind. Make a shortlist and follow the projects to make sure they are actually going forward - many get delayed or fall by the wayside.  Make any decision nearer the time.

 

I may be starting a business in Thailand before too long and I decided a long time ago that my main target market would be Thai's.  Far too much uncertainty with foreigners for my liking.

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8 hours ago, kimura89 said:

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.

Huge gyms have gone out of business in Thailand even long before covid.

 

You really have no clue how many customers you need to make a go of it and I think the number will be so high, you will not succeed. Add 4 Thai's to the payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, etc. and you will find it near impossible to get enough clients.

 

The internationals that come train Muy Thai in Thailand don't come to train with any Joe Blow, they come to train with recognized gyms and experts; which is not you.

 

If it was that popular, Thai owners would be everywhere already. If by luck you made a go of it, another would pop up right next door.

 

You already admitted you are not even an expert in this field.

 

Why would people want to come to your gym?

 

Never invest more in Thailand than you can afford to lose. This will be especially true here.

 

In the next 5 years you should take a business course in how to write a business plan. 

 

After you learn how to do that, you will realize your idea is a losing proposition.

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, bwpage3 said:

Huge gyms have gone out of business in Thailand even long before covid.

 

You really have no clue how many customers you need to make a go of it and I think the number will be so high, you will not succeed. Add 4 Thai's to the payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, etc. and you will find it near impossible to get enough clients.

 

The internationals that come train Muy Thai in Thailand don't come to train with any Joe Blow, they come to train with recognized gyms and experts; which is not you.

 

If it was that popular, Thai owners would be everywhere already. If by luck you made a go of it, another would pop up right next door.

 

You already admitted you are not even an expert in this field.

 

Why would people want to come to your gym?

 

Never invest more in Thailand than you can afford to lose. This will be especially true here.

 

In the next 5 years you should take a business course in how to write a business plan. 

 

After you learn how to do that, you will realize your idea is a losing proposition.

 

 

 

 

What you said about training is completely true.... if I was opening a Muay Thai gym. Which if you read the OP you’d realise that’s not my plan. Opening a MT gym as a farang in the home of the art is a fools errand.

 

Jiu Jitsu and MT are both martial arts just like Tennis and Football are both ball sports. 2 very different arts with completely different cultures for lack of a better term, and a very different customer base.

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Thanks for all the replies and advice . I didn’t expect so many so I’m not going to address every single one individually.

 

My key takeaway is that whatever I’m planning is destined to fail and I shouldn’t bother, even pre COVID. Though to be honest - I spent a lot of time training in Thailand back in 2016/17. Back then there were 2 gyms both in BKK and I think 1 in Phuket, since that time I’ve been following the scene quite closely and there’s at least 5 new gyms that have opened spanning from BKK to CM and another in Phuket. The original gym I trained at has expanded and almost doubled in size.. They all seem to be prospering in terms of members at least before COVID hit (though who knows what the financials look like). I guess what I’m getting at is that the activity suggests there’s a market for Jiu Jitsu in Thailand, contrary to some of the comments. In fact it’s following the same pattern of growth almost from where I currently live and train, just about 10 years behind.

 

Not trying to sound defensive, just stating my own observations 🙂 the red tape, 4 worker minimum and whatnot I was already aware of most of it - the 51/49 split is probably the most concerning but it is what it is. I have a few contacts I made when I trained there so I may pick their brain about how they made a go of it.

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2 hours ago, Natai Beach said:


I am not talking about the Prime Minister or Governor. 
 

The Poo Yai baan will know what he is up to anyway. It is good to be open the front foot, especially if you can speak Thai. They like being notified first of what’s happening, it shows respect, and they lap it up. 
 

I am speaking from what I have seen and experienced in real life. 
 

Having a fight gym and being friends with the owner is also something that will be probably more exciting for a poo yai baan or gamnan than a farang who wants to open a beer bar or a farang restaurant. 
Thais like fighting. I am tipping the owner is a fighter, 

 

You become friendly with the Poo Yai Baan. He knows all the other Poo Yai Baans and the gamnan who is the leader of the local poo Yai baans who decide who is the gamnan. Then there is the Nayok Orbortor and then higher again is the Nayok Orborjor.
 

All these people know each other, work together sometimes.
Handy to be friendly with them. 
They like to know what is going on on their turf. That is part of their job.  
 

Sure, it's always good to know these people. And if they are your friends that's great.

But please let's not forget that we are in Thailand. Most of above described are likely not in those jobs because they are nice and honest.

 

Recently my gf told me about that annoying drug dealer in her village and I asked her why she doesn't talk to the village head about that problem. She had an easy answer: The village head is the father of that drug dealer...

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29 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

Thanks for all the replies and advice . I didn’t expect so many so I’m not going to address every single one individually.

 

My key takeaway is that whatever I’m planning is destined to fail and I shouldn’t bother, even pre COVID. Though to be honest - I spent a lot of time training in Thailand back in 2016/17. Back then there were 2 gyms both in BKK and I think 1 in Phuket, since that time I’ve been following the scene quite closely and there’s at least 5 new gyms that have opened spanning from BKK to CM and another in Phuket. The original gym I trained at has expanded and almost doubled in size.. They all seem to be prospering in terms of members at least before COVID hit (though who knows what the financials look like). I guess what I’m getting at is that the activity suggests there’s a market for Jiu Jitsu in Thailand, contrary to some of the comments. In fact it’s following the same pattern of growth almost from where I currently live and train, just about 10 years behind.

 

Not trying to sound defensive, just stating my own observations 🙂 the red tape, 4 worker minimum and whatnot I was already aware of most of it - the 51/49 split is probably the most concerning but it is what it is. I have a few contacts I made when I trained there so I may pick their brain about how they made a go of it.

Good luck for you and your plans.

Obviously there are successful business and business owners in Thailand. And maybe you will be one of them.

I think what many TV members including me here like to tell you is: Be very careful what you do, what you hope for, and what to expect. Many of us saw many people with apparently good ideas fail and lose a lot of money. That's why we write to warn you that you better look twice or more often before you invest.

It seems you think long before you want to start with this. Good! Good luck.

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1 minute ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Good luck for you and your plans.

Obviously there are successful business and business owners in Thailand. And maybe you will be one of them.

I think what many TV members including me here like to tell you is: Be very careful what you do, what you hope for, and what to expect. Many of us saw many people with apparently good ideas fail and lose a lot of money. That's why we write to warn you that you better look twice or more often before you invest.

It seems you think long before you want to start with this. Good! Good luck.

Thanks 🙂 and yes I definitely appreciate all the advice for and against this idea, if anything it may save my ass sometime in the future.

 

To be honest I’m still creating a shortlist of places where I want to do this, it may not even end up being Thailand perhaps somewhere else in SE Asia. All depends which country is best placed in terms of minimal red tape/capital requirements and other inherent risks. But Thailand would be my first preference if I’m honest.

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29 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

Thanks 🙂 and yes I definitely appreciate all the advice for and against this idea, if anything it may save my ass sometime in the future.

 

To be honest I’m still creating a shortlist of places where I want to do this, it may not even end up being Thailand perhaps somewhere else in SE Asia. All depends which country is best placed in terms of minimal red tape/capital requirements and other inherent risks. But Thailand would be my first preference if I’m honest.

That is an interesting comment. 

It seems you really look first where would be a suitable place for your business. And that is obviously good when you think about doing business.

I think many of us think first and foremost where we want to live. And then we look what we can realistically do in that location.

I.e. I live since 20 years in Bangkok and I really like it. It's also a good place for me to make money. But I am sure I could make more money in other places, i.e. SG. Would that be a reason for me to move to SG? Sure not!

 

Would you really decide first what would be the the best place for your business and then I guess you have to live somewhere near to your business. I.e. if, just as an example, Malaysia would be better for your business, would you live there instead of i.e. Hua Hin? Maybe you would. But I think it's an important consideration. Because I guess you won't be able to easily change your location after you built your business. Wherever you do that that will be your place to live for the foreseeable future. Is that what you want? I don't expect an answer here and now but I think it's an important question.

 

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11 hours 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. 

 

There was the famous case a few years back of the foreigner whose wife colluded with the lawyer and sold his business and home out from under him.

 

I have a close friend who was sold land that did not have the proper rights, and lost all of his money.

 

I know another foreigner whose 51% Thai partners voted him out of his management position, sold off all of the company assets, and left him the 49% owner of nothing.

 

That said, it is not a rampant problem. With proper legal advice and proper structuring of the business, one can eliminate much of the risk. Furthermore, some businesses are far more risky and/or difficult than others, so the OP would be well advised to talk to those who have attempted businesses similar to the one the he is considering.

 

And you are correct that many foreigners in Thailand have met with success in their Thai business adventures. But there are also a boatload of those who have invested a lot of money in a business that simply failed. The government absolutely stacks the deck against foreign owned businesses, which means that you need to be twice as prepared, work twice as hard, and be very nimble to succeed. To me, that is simply a challenge, and not something that should prevent you from giving it a try if you feel you are up to that challenge.

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It should also be noted that, if you are a US citizen, you are awarded certain privileges under the Amity Treaty that give you a distinct advantage when starting a business in Thailand. The primary advantage being that you can own 100% (minus a few shares due to the minimum number of shareholders requirement). For example, I own 99.5% of my company, and my brother and close friend in the US each own 0.25% of the shares.

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5 hours ago, timendres said:

There was the famous case a few years back of the foreigner whose wife colluded with the lawyer and sold his business and home out from under him.

 

I have a close friend who was sold land that did not have the proper rights, and lost all of his money.

 

I know another foreigner whose 51% Thai partners voted him out of his management position, sold off all of the company assets, and left him the 49% owner of nothing.


Those examples are a the reason you want someone “ influential” who has your back. 
 

I had a neighbor try to stand over me for 70,000 baht for road access.
I called my “friend.” 
As soon as they saw him they backed down giving high wais all round. 
They won’t be trying anything again. 

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8 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Sure, it's always good to know these people. And if they are your friends that's great.

But please let's not forget that we are in Thailand. Most of above described are likely not in those jobs because they are nice and honest.

 

Recently my gf told me about that annoying drug dealer in her village and I asked her why she doesn't talk to the village head about that problem. She had an easy answer: The village head is the father of that drug dealer...


Pooyai baans are elected by the people in the village.
Everyone in your village knows the son is a dealer right? Thais gossip a lot. 
I saw you live in Bangkok, are you talking about her home village in Issan? Or where you live in Bangkok?


 

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21 minutes ago, Natai Beach said:


Pooyai baans are elected by the people in the village.
Everyone in your village knows the son is a dealer right? Thais gossip a lot. 
I saw you live in Bangkok, are you talking about her home village in Issan? Or where you live in Bangkok?

Her village, not my village. And that village is about 200km away from Bangkok and not Isan.

I go there only very seldom because I don't like village life.

And how should I know how many people in that village know that the son is a dealer? I didn't interview all of them.

 

And as you know many politicians in Thailand are elected. But for whatever reasons many Thais elect again and again the same corrupt people or maybe their family members. So the fact that someone is elected doesn't make him a good person.

 

The whole idea about my comments here was and is to warn people who want to start a business to be careful. The OP understood my intention - see above.

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11 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

That is an interesting comment. 

It seems you really look first where would be a suitable place for your business. And that is obviously good when you think about doing business.

I think many of us think first and foremost where we want to live. And then we look what we can realistically do in that location.

I.e. I live since 20 years in Bangkok and I really like it. It's also a good place for me to make money. But I am sure I could make more money in other places, i.e. SG. Would that be a reason for me to move to SG? Sure not!

 

Would you really decide first what would be the the best place for your business and then I guess you have to live somewhere near to your business. I.e. if, just as an example, Malaysia would be better for your business, would you live there instead of i.e. Hua Hin? Maybe you would. But I think it's an important consideration. Because I guess you won't be able to easily change your location after you built your business. Wherever you do that that will be your place to live for the foreseeable future. Is that what you want? I don't expect an answer here and now but I think it's an important question.

 

 

It's a balance between where I want to live long term and a viable place to open the business where the odds of it turning a liveable profit are realistic. By the time I jump into this I plan to have enough to survive for at least 12 months (but aiming for more) - but there needs to be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Where I want to live = Thailand without a doubt

 

Odds of it being successful = not likely according to what I've read here, but I'm not completely put off it yet

 

My next preference after that would be perhaps Vietnam. And yes, I plan to be the coach at wherever I open this gym, so would need to live in the same location. I guess the good thing is I have nothing but time to think and plan, so wherever it ends up being there'll be a sh!tload of thought and consideration put into it.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, kimura89 said:

 

It's a balance between where I want to live long term and a viable place to open the business where the odds of it turning a liveable profit are realistic. By the time I jump into this I plan to have enough to survive for at least 12 months (but aiming for more) - but there needs to be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Where I want to live = Thailand without a doubt

 

Odds of it being successful = not likely according to what I've read here, but I'm not completely put off it yet

 

My next preference after that would be perhaps Vietnam. And yes, I plan to be the coach at wherever I open this gym, so would need to live in the same location. I guess the good thing is I have nothing but time to think and plan, so wherever it ends up being there'll be a sh!tload of thought and consideration put into it.

I have not experience in that business. But I am pretty sure if you would work for a couple of month in any such place in Thailand then you would get a lot more experience compared to doing it in theory from far away.

All the best!

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