Monday, January 30, 2006

Moving to Belize Guide, part 4

Don’t start a business with your friends!

Is it unfair of me to say that? Am I being a party-pooper?

Look, I know it sounds like a fun idea: start a business somewhere in the tropics with your best friends. Imagine yourself a few years from now, hanging out with your mates by the side of your own swimming pool, making money as you’re enjoying the ‘tropical dream’ lifestyle. You’ll be far away from home, but never lonely as your friends are all there with you. The whole group supports each other through the trials and tribulations of moving to a foreign country. In time, you will start families, your children will grow up together & live the healthy outdoor lifestyle and everyone will be happily ever after.

It would be great if things worked like that. Sadly enough, the reality is usually more like this:

Everyone starts off excited. A business is decided on & land or property is bought. Not everyone is able to move down at the same time, as loose ends need to be tied up back home. So, one or two people travel ahead to start things off. The others are meant to follow soon.

Then things happen…A couple splits up. They no longer want to emigrate. One person gets an unexpected promotion and decides that the opportunity is too good to miss. One woman gets pregnant and suddenly feels that she wants to stay near her mother. Family members fall ill, fights break out, doubt sets in, etc.

What you end up with is that one or two people carry the whole project by themselves and the others are nothing but silent partners. Or-the more complicated scenario- people want their investments back. This can descend in to utter chaos, with disagreements on whether to sell or not, how much to sell for, how people should be rewarded for the time spent on the project, etc. With the chance that friendships of a lifetime suddenly come crumbling down. All very sad indeed.

So my advice is the following:

Don’t rely on anyone when moving and starting a business abroad. If you are still determined to do it with your friends, consider the following: Are you willing to run this project by yourself in case other peoples’ situations change? And are you willing and able to buy the others out when needed? If you can say ‘yes’ to those two questions, than go right ahead. I hope that it all works out for you. It would be my dream too to have to have my friends and family around me. So I send you my blessings.

Now, if you’re one of those who tried to set up a business abroad with friends, please send me your story (whether it worked out for you or not). I’d be happy to share your experience here on this blog.