Top 5 foreign countries to start a business now as an American 2012

Here is where to go this year- Latin America is the place!

Here is where to go this year- Latin America is the place!

Ok so here we go. You know you want to go. You are ready. You know how to go. You may even know when to go. But you may want to decide where to go. You have seen all of the success indicators and the positive trends in certain places and the not so nice indicators and trends in others.

Maybe to get you to stop thinking so damn hard, I can provide a starting point. You of course can start a business or expand anywhere, but perhaps it is good to have just a few places in mind to get an idea of maybe where you should go.

Here are the top 5 foreign countries to start a business in 2012 as an American.

1) Panama– You don’t need any special visas to get started. Just step off the plane and take a look around. Lots of expat communities exist, the tourism industry is growing fast and local services can barely keep up.

Panama City is a hub where you can find almost everything—but it’s growing so fast, there is room for more. In the popular tourist and expatriate hubs outside the city, plenty of niches have yet to be filled. Some restrictions exist when it comes to opening a retail space, but there are plenty of expats who have done it anyway, undeterred. Rents on commercial premises are reasonable and commercial leases are business friendly. With so many English-speaking attorneys, you won’t need Spanish to get started. The country’s business infrastructure is excellent, too, with Internet penetration among the best in the region.



And the local business community is open to, and welcoming toward, foreigners

2) Ecuador– The best place in the world for a start up as a foreigner. It is very easy. Expat David Morrill has run two businesses there over the last seven-and-a-half years. “It’s relatively easy for expats to get into business… Foreigners are treated the same as locals in starting businesses.

There are no restrictions on the type of business and no special visa is required. There’s no problem opening a bank account, no restrictions on employing staff or requirements of how many you need to hire. It is very important, however, that you have good legal and accounting counsel so he or she understands the laws and rules—these are

Ecuador the beautiful...beautiful and easy place for a start up

Ecuador the beautiful…beautiful and easy place for a start up


3) Colombia– In Medellín, Colombia, there is a strong demand for English-speaking tours and services. Over the last decade, international flights to Colombia have increased 120%. The number of tourists tripled between 2002 and 2009 and more and more expats come every month.

The new Colombia: a great place to start a business

The new Colombia: a great place to start a business

4) Nicaragua– The next Costa Rica. The country still has a ways to go with improvement of infrastructure and ease  of business; however, this place is full of untapped niches and opportunities for both the growing population and the growing expat market. “Most of the tourist towns have more than enough B&Bs and small hotels, but a good restaurant is hard to find, and businesses that offer activities like surfing and fishing are rare,” says expat and local businesswoman Tuey Murdoch.

The most successful expat businesses usually appeal to the local market as well as to expats and tourists. Take the example of Eric and Stephanie Slater, who started their bakery in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, to cater to expats, but are now expanding because

Nicaragua: The next Costa Rica

Nicaragua: The next Costa Rica

of demand from ordinary Nicaraguans.

Above all, says Toni, “Take advice from other expats who have traveled the road before you, do your homework, and remember, you can never ask too many questions!”

5) Belize– “The fact that Belize is English-speaking is the country’s biggest asset,” says U.S. expat Stewart Krohn, who’s been doing business in Belize for 38 years. And when it comes to doing business here, Stewart says, “If you are straight and patient, and apply the same common sense and due diligence you would in your own country, then you will not have any problems.”

It's all about the language baby

It’s all about the language baby

Categories: entrepreneurship, South America/ Latin America | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 foreign countries to start a business now as an American 2012

  1. Rob Pangborn

    This is a great article. Latin America has some excellent opportunities for an array of industries. I would also recommend Peru for political stability and excellent trade agreements with MERCOSUR nations, as well as China, the US, as well as many other agreements pending. This creates some very favorable conditions for industries planning to import-manufacture-export, and can meet the reasonable domestic content hurdles. Peru is getting much safer and costs are still relatively low. There is also a growing consumer market for higher-value/imported goods. Infrastructure is still a bit of an issue, but there are plans to expand Lima area’s port to the largest in the Latin Pacific region.

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