How you should become an entrepreneur while being an Expat in Vietnam

Written by Guillaume Rondan

Vietnam is a great country to be an entrepreneur in. Many expats have a lot of free time living and working in Vietnam. Some teachers work 20 hours per week in outsourcing companies, and some of them have a lot of free time between different projects. Would it be possible to use this free time to launch a project and explore the world of entrepreneurship?

Why is Saigon such a great city to launch your project?

Co-working places have plenty of events, gathering young talent and entrepreneurs every week. Being surrounded by this ecosystem of start-ups, young students who have a side business, freelancers or business owners, people with an entrepreneur mindset and ideas for projects have great opportunities. As a business owner, being able to access recent graduates with fresh ideas, rare skills, and a lot of ambition is another great perk of living in Vietnam. The growing expat community in Saigon is the perfect audience: being able to target this community, offer them services (like visas) or products (like restaurants) is one option companies are exploring.

Emerging markets like Vietnam have great potential

Vietnam has had an average GDP growth rate of 7% over the last few years. Comparing Vietnam to developed countries like the UK or the USA, the middle class is getting more and richer and willing to afford premium goods, and the young millennial generation wants to live life to the fullest. Saving money is not usually one of the millennials’ priorities as they jump into working life. They want to spend their money tasting Taiwanese milk tea, experiencing a fine Italian restaurant, or traveling to Thailand with friends for the first time …

From an entrepreneur perspective, this dynamism is a great advantage thinking of an F&B (Food and Beverage Services), importing goods targeting those generations of consumers.

On the other hand, knowing that the internet is disrupting industries and the way we consume, exploring those opportunities is another aspect digital entrepreneurs are focusing on. The internet allows you to target worldwide prospects using Facebook or marketplaces such as Amazon.

How to launch a worldwide project through the Internet

All economies are based on supply and demand. Here is an example plan to identify those opportunities and operate an arbitrage business. Arbitrage is done by buying an asset in one market at a lesser price and selling it immediately on another market at a higher price. Identifying those opportunities usually does not involve any investment, and it can be grown and automated.

More and more consumers are using online services such as Fiverr, or Upwork to find designers, web developers, or writers within a day to achieve a task for them. Nowadays, it is very common to hire freelancers for a few days of work if we do not need a full-time employee.

Here is the strategy I am inviting you to explore:

  1. Identify services needed on a marketplace that does not yet exist for a certain industry, language, or specific skill
    1. Design logos for a travel agencies (industry)
    1. Writing a business article in French (language)
    1. Coding a website using Java (specific skill/programming language)
  2. Find freelancers on another marketplace that provide those services
  3. As soon as a customer places an order, you are in charge of understanding the needs, following up with your customer, and ensuring the freelancer delivers the service

The first few weeks will be intense: you must be competitive and build a network of competent freelancers who meet the specifications quickly in order to obtain good reviews and move up in the rankings of the most highly rated services. As you live in Vietnam, you can also use talented freelancers here, grow your team, and keep outsourcing your job to foreign customers through those platforms.

You can expand the business by recruiting freelancers, increasing your prices, offering new services, advertising services on other marketplaces…

Now, I have one question for you … what is the next step you will take today to start your first entrepreneurial project?

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