On another page here we’d already talk about about the opportunities which foreigners have in Thailand by working as an employee in a Thai company.
Here are now some ideas for those who would like to open up their own business in Thailand. As I said, just some ideas or business models which are typically done by other foreigners in Thailand. You may feel free to have your own ideas when you see a niche in Thailand that fits you.
Whenever you want to start your own business you will have to set up a company (Co.ltd) which involves some extra costs. As a foreigner you can not just simply get a business licence from the municipal hall like the Thais, to start your business.
Please be aware of some kinds of work, that is not allowed to foreigners in Thailand. The company however can do almost everything but you may only get a work permit as “Managing Director” to manage your company but not to do the actual work.
Making Money Online
It is the easiest way to make a living in Thailand by making money online. No company or work permit needed. I’ve made an extra page on this topic, please click here to learn more!
Import/Export: You can either buy or manufacture some goods in Thailand and export them to your home country (thai handcraft or wood carvings for example) or you can import specialized stuff from other countries and sell them in Thailand. Some years ago a German started to import German electrical stuff like cable, switches, plugs, sockets and so on and sold it to foreigners who were building or renovating their house in Thailand. He did well and has a medium-large constructing company by today.
Owner of a travel agency or travel office:
Often used by tour guides who came to Thailand with a big agency and didn’t want to leave. It’s a good idea to keep up the good connections to that big oversea operators, cause you can maybe serve their customers locally.
Production of foreign food specialties
It works well almost every time when cooks, bakers or butchers open up a small business to produce some sort of food specialties from certain countries. This works well at least for German bread and sausages or Italian Pizza for example. You may come up with your own ideas, providing the fact that there are either tourists or expats living in that place to buy your food. Thais will most likely not buy our stuff. You may also easily get a work permit for that kind of work.
Dive Center/Diving School:
Not such a good idea anymore as it used to be. You will easily get a work permit as an instructor but you have a big competition and the rental prices for an office near the beach front are sky rocking. Very hard to make that much money, when you only have a six month season. Dive Centers have become big business and you can not start that small business on the beach anymore as I did in 1990. You have to invest a huge amount and start big or take over an existing shop.
Owner of a Beer Bar
Probably the worst idea but done by many foreigners. Since setting up a Co.ltd is mostly too expensive and too big for a bar, most foreigners let the business run on their girlfriends or Thai wife’s name. That usually means that you have no papers to apply for a visa or workpermit. By today, bars can only survive when being separated from others and not being one of many in a so called Bar Center or Night Plaza.
Has almost the same problems as a bar but can be done with a trusty Thai wife or girlfriend and when you make it serious and with good food. Should be done by setting up a company (maybe Partnership ltd with the Thai wife) so that you have the necessary papers for visa and work permit
Owner of a Hotel, Resort or Guesthouse
A good business when you were not too late and could buy or rent the land when it was still cheap. If you came too late to a tourist place, all the land near the beach is gone and you’ll be placed some miles away from the actual center. But it will still work as long as you make a good marketing online and/or with some travel agents, domestic and international.
Web & Graphic Design & Computer company
This sort of business went a bit down, since almost everybody has his own computer and does a lot by himself. But most computer service companies are still busy and doing well in web design, menus for restaurants, repair service or computer sales.
Real Estate or Consulting Office
The situation has become a little more difficult, since land ownership can not be easily registered in foreign owned companies anymore so the buy and sale is going down but it still works well by just being an agent and cash in the commissions. Also consulting offices for other foreigners are doing well but you need some experience in Thailand first before consulting others.