10 Business Opportunities For The Entrepreneur Abroad

Live Where You Want… The Money Can Follow

Starting about 33 years ago, wide-eyed, pony-tailed, and straight out of college, I went to work in the publishing industry.

Back then, we made a business of the written word the old-fashioned way—with paper, ink, envelopes, and stamps. 

Today my business is virtual. 

Today, publishing companies (like mine) may need the services of a copywriter or a particular editor only once or twice a month. They don’t want, therefore, to be liable for a full-time salary and the associated employer taxes, health benefits, vacation time, work space, etc. Easier and cheaper to find a freelance worker with the required skills.

This is one small example. The reality today is that opportunities like these await entrepreneurs across every border. You can turn a hobby into an income and become part of the new mobile, global workforce. You can approach this low-key, with nothing more than a laptop, or, more ambitiously, with the idea that you want to build a business, with a base and staff, to generate the income you need to live the life you want where you want to live it.

I had a friend in Poland years ago who learned that Burger King was going to open up shop there and needed warehouse space for its supplies. My friend bought a warehouse. Burger King became his client. In time, he expanded his storage business to include other clients and other products… and he made a nice living for himself. 

Another friend noticed how few coffee shops existed in Warsaw. (This was years ago, before Starbucks came to this town.) My friend found a local roaster to roast the coffee beans and then packaged them himself. He set up a combination retail and wholesale operation that was bought by another larger one. That company is still going strong.

Some of the best overseas businesses start like these two—organically. You show up, discover a market niche, and then invent a way to fill it.

Other overseas ventures can be more pre-planned. 

About 10 years ago, I took early retirement from the company where I’d worked for more than 23 years. Six months later, I realized that retirement didn’t suit me. I liked being in business.

For me, the question wasn’t what business might make sense (I enjoyed the business I’d already spent 23 years learning). 

For me, the question was where best should I base the business I wanted to launch. Panama stood out as the obvious choice.

What could you do?

  • A laptop-based business (consulting, copywriting, travel writing, photography, programming, teaching, even bookkeeping, for example) is the easiest to launch overseas and allows you to work from anywhere in the world you can get a reliable internet connection…
  • Online publishing
  • A franchise can be an easy way to hit the ground running with a business model, strategy, branding, marketing, and support already in place…
  • A tourism-based business—a bed and breakfast, a dive shop, a bar, restaurant, ice cream shop, wine store, souvenir stand, etc….
  • A business targeting the expat market anywhere there is a decent-sized expat community gives you a chance to provide a product or service you (and your fellow expats) miss from back home…
  • A niche store… because one of the big advantages of being someone from the developed world looking to start a business in the undeveloped world is that lots of unfilled niches will occur to you quickly…
  • Real estate is one business that many expat entrepreneurs gravitate toward. You bring an understanding of an efficient real estate market to places where the real estate markets are typically anything but…
  • Import/export
  • A business geared toward the locals… like my friend who started the coffee business in Warsaw. He translated a developed-world idea to a developing marketplace full of virgin consumers…
  • Farming or viticulture

Nine-plus years on with my own overseas start-up, I can tell you that it’s not easy, but I don’t regret a single day of the experience. In fact, my only regret is that I didn’t get started at this sooner. 

We’ve had the time of our lives building what today is a well-established, fast-growing operation with an eclectic international staff and a big upside.

In the current climate, as good-paying, fulfilling jobs can be harder and harder to come by back in the States, where downsizing has become a cliché and graduates wonder what in the world they’re going to do with their new degrees…

I offer that the question isn’t what in the world are you going to do to support yourself and the life you want…

But where in the world.

Kathleen Peddicord

French Course Online

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