This article entitled ‘Main Hesitations Expats Have About Starting a Company in Bali’ is initially published for the June 2021 issue of Wanderlust Fitness Magazine. Grab a printed copy or find this article on page 23 of the magazine here.
As the manager of Emerhub Bali since 2016, I have met and worked with hundreds of expats in various stages of starting and operating their businesses on the island. What I have often found is that the biggest limiter foreigners have is the fear for the unknown – starting a new business always includes some level of risk. Doing it in a country whose culture, laws, and customs you don’t fully understand adds another dimension to it.
Take for example Aaron Turner, the founder of Solace Float. He said it took him several years to get started: “It scared me so much that I decided I wasn’t going to open a business in Bali. It was only much later that I looked into it further and talked to some more people and I told them what I found online, and they said not to worry about what had changed my mind.” Now his business Solace Float is thriving in Bali, and they will be expanding to Jakarta soon.
Unknown legal and business environment in Bali for expats
Foreigners that have already gone through the process of opening businesses in other (emerging) markets have a bit of an advantage. Jeroen and Clare first achieved success with their surf hotel brand Swell in the Dominican Republic. Last year they opened another location in Binging, Bali, which is also doing well.
Their first advice is to not cut corners, even if some local advisors make it sound tempting. “Don’t try to be cheap, cutting corners when setting up; employ professional experts to help you. The worst “experts” are those who tell you everything is possible, but you probably won’t find out that in fact, everything is not possible until you’ve wasted a lot of money in the process.”, says Jeroen about his experience of working with various consultants in both Dominican Republic and Bali.
He also emphasizes the importance of doing your research before starting a company – “do your research on the business you are planning to open; does your business idea fit within the area, have you assessed demand?”.
Be ready to adapt your plans in starting a company in Bali
All the planning and research will increase your chances of succeeding with your business in Bali. But there are never any guarantees and most of our clients highlight the importance of being prudent with your finances because it gives you the flexibility to make changes as you learn new things about your industry.
“It’s important to have money ready for costs that you didn’t know were coming. I had to change a few things, from starting out as a restaurant bar to becoming a family-friendly destination with swings and a play area,” says Tim, the founder of Fat Hog.
I hope those examples give you some idea about what it takes to start a company in Bali. And remember that you are not alone. There have been many expats before you that have built wonderful businesses in Bali – connect with them, learn from them, and in the end it just comes down to taking the leap. My team at Emerhub Bali is happy to support you along the way.
Triin Tigane is the manager of Emerhub Bali. In 2016, she left behind her successful career in corporate law in Europe and now gets to spend her days on two of the things she’s most passionate about – surfing and law.