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Finding A Job/Being An Entrepreneur Overseas

How To Earn A Living Overseas

I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but, unless you’re relocated by a big corporation, you aren’t going to get a job overseas.

I’m exaggerating a little. You likely could land a job teaching English as a foreign language in China or elsewhere in Asia.

If you have an EU passport, you might be able to find gainful employment in the Euro-zone.

If you speak the local language fluently and you’re willing to work under the table and for local wages, maybe someone could hook you up with, say, a table-waiting or bar-tending gig in Central America.

But I’m guessing that when you write, dear reader, as you do often, to ask about employment opportunities overseas, that’s not the kind of thing you’ve got in mind.

One thirtysomething reader writes today to explain that his investment portfolio is enough, he believes, to support him, his wife, and their five-week-old son in “retirement”…and they’re looking to make a move to India, perhaps, in the New Year (see below).

But maybe you don’t have investments enough to carry you through a retirement abroad…or maybe you did but you don’t any longer…

And even if you have “enough,” maybe you’ve also got an idea. Maybe you’re not ready to hang out in a hammock all day long. Maybe, in fact, you’re thinking that this next “retirement” phase of your life would be a good time to chase the how-you’d-really-like-to-spend-your-days dream you had to put aside maybe for decades while you raised a family and did the responsible thing.

What did you really want to do when you were younger? Run a dive shop? Take people on charter boat tours…or deep-sea fishing adventures?

Make and sell jewelry? Crafts? Cakes?

Plan parties? Sell books?

Publish books? Or e-letters…

I’ve done this both ways. About 10 years ago, I moved abroad with the help of a big company. Six years later, I made a second international move with their help…

Then, this summer, we moved from Paris to Panama all on our own.

When I moved with the company…my company moved with me. And it provided help with all the paperwork and administration related to local incorporation, tax filings, bank accounts, credit accounts, work permits, residency visas…

It also provided capital and a network of people I could e-mail with questions, problems, challenges, ideas…even people I could call when panic struck…as it sometimes did…

When I left the big company and struck out on my own 18 months ago, I gave up that support. No longer could I bring my job with me.

Now I had to create a job of my own…on my own.

I sat where maybe you sit today.

I was scared…as maybe you are right now.

It takes a serious leap of self-faith to do this. And, now, having done it, here’s the best advice I can offer if you, too, are thinking of jumping:

If you don’t have the ready-made support of a big company behind you…you need to find support someplace else.

You need an idea.

You need a little capital (not a lot).

You need a dose of courage and a dash of gumption.

And you need support.

These past 18 months, on my own, I’ve had questions, problems, challenges, ideas…and I’ve had moments…days even…and long nights…of panic…

My husband has listened and offered advice day by day (he’s had no choice). Friends around the world and family back in the States have called regularly with words of encouragement. Sometimes it’s been you, dear reader, who’s kept me focused, motivated, and productive, with your e-mails.

You’ve got partners, friends, and family, too. And they’ll do all they can to keep you moving ahead.

But I’ve discovered another resource, one I wish I’d known about 18 months ago when I launched my own journey as a solo-entrepreneur abroad.

I’m speaking of Kerri Salls, a woman with 30 years business-building and -coaching experience who is focused now on providing support for the entrepreneur abroad.

As Kerri explains, it’s easy to come up with reasons not to start a business as an expat.

But, Kerri continues, “here are six compelling reasons you can’t not start your own business overseas and become an expat entrepreneur”:

1. Freedom and Flexibility

As an expat entrepreneur, you are in business for yourself; you aren’t trailing along with someone else’s ambitions or dreams. What’s more, you’re pursuing your own dreams in the place where you most want to be. Work from home…an Internet café…or a sidewalk café…you decide. Work early ’til dinnertime…or midday through the wee hours…you decide. Be where you want and work when you want. What could beat that?

2. Independence and Autonomy

As an entrepreneur, at home or abroad, you gain personal and professional independence. You have the autonomy to build the business that suits your life and your lifestyle. Your toughest, most demanding boss is the one inside your head. You control the business you’re in, how big it gets, how fast it grows, what market it serves, and what you do with the profits.

3. Creativity and Adventure

Expatriates are an adventurous, risk-taking bunch. Those are the same characteristics that come in handy for the entrepreneur. It takes creativity, resourcefulness, and a spirit of adventure to move overseas. It takes more of the same to launch a business in another country. An expat typically brings a broad skill set and an open mind to bear when considering his entrepreneurial options…and his chances of success are enhanced as a result.

Anyone reared, schooled, and trained in the developed world has a serious leg up on the local competition in any developing nation. You’ve encountered innumerable business ideas throughout your life. You know which ones succeeded and why.

Now bring those ideas and that experience with you overseas. Nearly every day here in Panama, for example, we notice another business opportunity…another market niche not served…another service or product that doesn’t exist but that we know we’d pay for if it were offered…and certainly we’re not the only ones.

Come on down…if not to Panama…then to wherever your daydreams land you…and see the market gaps for yourself.

It’s not easy being an expat entrepreneur, but I have no regrets. I’m building something that’s mine, calling the shots, living the life I want in the place I want to be.

Bottom line, expat entrepreneurship can be the secret to how you can afford the new life in paradise, in retirement or otherwise, that you’re longing for.

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