When it comes to doing business, Thailand is probably one of the worst countries in the world to do so, but in all fairness the problems that plague enterpreneurs in Thailand are probably more or less the same as in other developing countries.
In the end, every country has its own opportunities and threats, and you've got to take that into consideration when conducting your business. The good news is, that if you manage your business well, then you have a good chance to win over your competition, as your strength will outweigh most Thai competitors' weaknesses.
In general, Thai aren't very good businessmen: they aren't very diligent nor motivated, don't understand planning, don't organise well, don't follow up carefully, don't value long-term relationships but instead prefer short term gains, and aren't very creative in developing new business ideas. Instead, the typical Thai business model is: noticing that someone else is successful, then copy that entire concept and establish right nextdoor.
If you're able to find a niche market and do well on all those qualifications that Thai and any foreign enterprises don't, you'll be able to tap into a large market that for sure exists, but it couldn't find a good provider yet. There is a huge demand for nearly everything in Thailand, but businesses and consumers accept the lower standards of service and quality of goods simply because there isn't anything better.
The biggest potential however, could be in providing a service for western markets and getting paid in western currency, while taking advantage of lower labour and material costs in Thailand. The most successful businesses run by foreigners in Chiang Mai are often software companies or export companies.
The Thai economy in a way is a very strange economy, which resembles a true market economy but often isn't. There is a huge amount of unregistered money that isn't reflected in official figures but can dominate cash flows in certain businesses. Thai consumers aren't behaving rationally and are sometimes not reacting to market prices, they act according to a fictual price in their head. And a large part of the consumer market is on credit.
Normal 'rules of the game' and best practises don't always apply to Thai style doing business. For example, for small and even big Thai businesses there isn't such thing as goodwill, they change their name often for no apparent reason and even move a few blocks away.
A major challenge, if not the largest, is to find and recruit skills and manage your staff. Even if you manage to find your niche and start up a business, the moment you have to work with Thai staff you'll be in trouble. First of all, there is a real shortage of skills and knowledge, partly due to poor overall education and partly due to low motivation. And if you find and employ staff, it's a real headache to manage them. In general, Thai staff are lazy, cut corners and aren't detail-minded. Also, they aren't very loyal so one day they may just walk out on you without any notice.
Of course, education and skills levels in Bangkok are higher than in other parts of the country, but overall most Thai businesses and staff lack a certain professionalism that you find in real business hubs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
If you intend to do business in Chiang Mai, you'll face the interesting mix of factors that on the one hand skills and education levels are lower here than in Bangkok, while on the other hand the labour supply that comes from the universities in Chiang Mai isn't able to find enough good jobs, so as an employer you'll be able to take advantage of that.
Managing Thai staff is one of the most difficult balancing acts to carry out and requires a delicate mix of soft pressure with a smile, never getting angry, and sufficient incentives to get the job done. Be too hard on them and they'll walk away, be too soft and the job will never be finished. Promise them a bonus and they'll be happy today, but forget about it tomorrow. Give them too much money and they'll skip a day of work because of getting drunk.
Thai staff in general are: kind, patient and polite, but don't learn fast or at all, and aren't loyal at all. Even in more challenging jobs requiring more education, be prepared to further train your staff because it won't be enough what they learned in university and they're not used to really follow up on jobs. Also, you need to check literally everything you tell them to do, because mistakes and forgetting things are a rule of law for Thai workers.
The Thai government doesn't make it very easy for starting enterpreneurs in Thailand. In order to set up a business and get a work permit, on every foreigner with a work permit the business needs to employ at least 4 local Thai workers. This is why a lot of young enterpreneurs in Thailand and Chiang Mai prefer to start low profile on their own, for example using the internet and staying out of sight of the Thai authorities for the time being.
Unless your business is in one of the priority sectors designated by the Board of Investment (BOI), there are hardly any incentives or procedures to welcome foreign businesses.
Thinking to start up a business but not sure if it's the right thing? Hire us as a business consultant.
|Chiang Mai Toastmasters Club|
Speak English, Build confidence, Conquer your fear, Master t
|Chiang Mai Social Group Of Friends|
Do you want to meet up with fellow peers in Chiang Mai? Are
Mahasiddha Yoga (tantrayogathailand.com) - Just north of the
Free of costs language exchange between farang and Thai
|Couchsurfing Chiang Mai|
Weekly meet up with local Thai and Couchsurfers, long stayer
|Chiang Mai Fencing Club|
Dedicated to the sport of Fencing, playing Foil, Epee, and S
|Latin Tunes @Meridien|
Salsa lovers gather at the Meridien, salsa in style, every l
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Thursday at Sahara, Nimma
Regular outings for bird lovers
|Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual group (LGBT)|
Our LGBT group aims to allow friendships between both Thai a
|Monday Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar|
Every Monday night is Jam night at Boy Blues Bar Bar. Many f
|First Northern Thailand Toastmasters Club The Confidence Builders|
Meets the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month at 6pm. 053-21
Saturday mornings 10 am. Contact Ruth at 085-615-1413
|Hash House Harriers: CSH3 (Saturday mixed Hash)|
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is The
Support group open to those affected by alcoholism in a rela
|OA (Overeaters Anonymous)|
Every Saturday from 4-5 p.m. Please ask the guards or nurses
Every Saturday night screening at 07.00 pm (Free Admission!)
|Expat Club |
General Meetings on the 4th Saturday of the month, except De
|Open night @ Sangdee|
All are welcome to perform. Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5 from 8 PM
|Meditate with the Green Papaya Sangha|
In the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. T
Every Friday at 9pm at participating bars in a home and away
|Chiang Mai Expats Club Coffee Morning|
Coffee meetings are on 1st and 3rd Friday of each month Frid
|Alliance Francaise Films|
Alliance Francaise Films: Every Friday at 8 PM
|Trinity Baptist Church|
Meeting for old-time worship and fellowship with Dr. Jack L.
|Traditional 2nd hand market|
A Traditional 2nd hand market - Every Saturday morning from
|Big Day Out|
1st Sunday of every month. Live music and BBQ, 080 1222561
|New Beginnings group of Alcoholics Anonymous|
Open meetings at 10:00am on Sundays.
|International Group of Alcoholics Anonymous|
Chiang Mai International Group of AA meets every morning at
|Classic Cars of Lanna|
Meets the last Sunday of every month
Every Sunday 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm We have bats and gloves… ju
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. Info: 084-485-0100, chi
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Tuesday at Coffee Monster
|“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch|
“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch: The lunch buffet at the
|“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch|
“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch: First Thursday of every mo
Nicotine Anonymous: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1 p.m., 086-19
|Quiz Night @ Garden Bar Lotus Hotel|
Quiz Night at the Garden Bar Lotus Hotel Chang Puak. Teams o
|Chiang Mai Photographic Group|
Chiang Mai Photographic Group: meets every other Wednesday a
|Open Microphone Night|
Open Mike Night at the UN Irish Pub every Wednesday, from 8.
Co-dependants Anonymous: Support group for those having prob
|Friends of Bill|
Friends of Bill meeting (General 12 Step meeting, all addict
|Swiss Lanna Society|
Swiss Lanna Society weekly informal gatherings, 6:30 p.m. ev
|Royal British Legion|
Royal British Legion meeting has moved to Basic Line Hotel S
Badminton group meets every Tuesday from 2-4 PM at the Munic
Judo group meets at the MMA club near the Railways station o
CM Money Club meets last Thursday of every month. Info: Don
The Chiang Mai Computer Club meets every Tuesday. It is open
|Chiang Mai International Rotary Club|
The Chiang Mai International Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays a
|On-location Sketching Group|
On-location sketching group: Monday mornings from 8:00-10:30
Karatedo Federation Wado-kaj organises free Karate practise
|Tai Chi - Chi Kung|
Every Monday and Wednesday 8am at Suan Buak Hat Public Park
|Women's Book Club|
CM's International Women's Book Club meets every last Monday
The Gentleman's Club for real gentlemen and males approachin
|Back to Basics Group of AA|
Back to Basics Group of Alcoholics Anonymous meets Monday to
|Hash House Harriers CH3 (male only)|
Male runs every alternate week on Mon/Tue. Pick up from The
|Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar|
Swinging music with live jam, every Monday from 9pm
|Ball hockey by CM Highlanders|
CM Highlanders plays ball hockey every Monday.
|CM Travel Club|
Chiang Mai Travel Club gathers at Sangdee every 2nd Monday o
|Upstairs at Sangdee|
Performing artists every Monday at Sangdee. For those intere
|Hash House Harriers CSH3|
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is the
|Sri Sathya Sai Baba Group|
Study and discussion group for CM devotees of spiritual mast
|Gay and Lesbian Club|
|Readers & Book discussion group|
Monthly over lunch to discuss a previously agreed book, cmre
|Dining Out Group|
Once a fortnight, alternating between Asian and Western food
Though there isn't a proper racquet ball court in Chiang Mai
|Circle of Light|
The Circle of Light Group is a reading & discussion group fo
|Chiang Mai Beach Volleyball Club|
Welcome to CMBVC! We are one of Chiang Mai's most active spo
|Urban Sketchers Chiang Mai|
Urban Sketchers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rai
Maum meditation is throwing away the false mind,and is Chan
|New Life Foundation Thailand|
New Life Thai Foundation is a unique international, mindfuln
|WED ZOUK BAREFOOT at Birds Nest Cafe|
We would like to invite you all for our regular zouk meet up
|Tons of Time!|
Weight being a problem for us all these days, but truly bein
|Tai Chi Chuan|
Tai Chi Chuan step by step.. Daily weekday classes every
|Yin Yoga with Claudio|
Price: 200B - Contact Claudio: 0847 744705
This movement meditation practice is for anyone that is insp
|Esoteric Integral Yoga|
The Esoteric Integral Yoga course is an in-depth course prov
Football Chiang Mai - Football fan in Chiang Mai
|Chiangmai AutoCAD Training|
AutoCAD for Engineering and Architecture drawing training
|Documentary Arts Asia Monday & Thursday Showings|
The Documentary Arts Asia Theater has regular screenings of
|Income Tax discussion|
How to legally claim tax rebate as a foreigner working in Th
|Chiang Mai Backgammon|
Anyone interested in forming a group?
|Tantra Yoga Community|
A unique course about the extraordinary spiritual adventure
|Chiang Mai Improv Theatre|
We are all about PLAY! Come and regress to being 5 years old
A laughter yoga class and circle at the Yoga Tree Chiang Mai
Think you're funny? We're looking for people who'd like to
|Chiang Mai Jugglers and Prop Enthusiasts|
Wanna meet and play with other Prop Manipulation geeks? Lear
|Chiang Mai Chess Club|
Welcome to Chiang Mai Chess Club
|Squash Players Chiang Mai|
There are 2 main groups of squash players in Chiang Mai.
There are a few groups in Chiang Mai that gather for salsa,
|Writers without Borders|
If you're an expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or, more specifi
An exploration of dance and movment, the BIODANZA way, of ho
|Green Papaya Sangha|
Meditation in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nha
|Bridge Chiang Mai|
Welcome to Bridge Club of Chiang Mai