How to Bootstrap Your Business in Thailand
When I first came to Thailand I had a job that made close to 100,000 baht a month without doing much if anything at all. While that sounds like a cushy gig it really sucked and I can see heaps of people here with the same problem. The time in the USA means that you have to work at night and schedule meetings when I'd rather be at the club or chasing skirt, or anything but having to deal with "work problems". I decided to ditch the job and start my own Business.
I've been living in Thailand for over 6 years now running this blog for almost 4 of those years and started a dozen businesses in the meantime and to be completely honest I'm super lazy when It comes to work yet somehow I've had enough success that I don't have to do anything if I chose to do so. One of my favorite posts on this site is How to do nothing in Thailand because it reminds me of when I used to literally do nothing at all and you know what? I felt busier when I was doing nothing!
There's a lot of people who would love to live that kind of lifestyle and it's really exciting to see the thousands of hopefuls who come to Thailand to start their online business to make their riches and live their dreams. But for every success there are dozens of failures. I know one guy who's been here 4 times now, each time running out of money and having to return home to a god forbid...a day job!
There are only 3 reasons why people fail to succeed in Thailand
1. Failed Business Plan
2. Failure to budget correctly
3. No work ethic and lack of focus
A few years ago there was this kid came to Chiang Mai he's like 20 something and he's whole plan was to make some website about this condition he suffered. Not at all exciting but that was his goal. The thing is, 6 months later I asked if he had finished, he had nothing to really say about it but he did have a fair few stories about bar girls including the bar girl he now had as a girlfriend 😉 I don't know the kids whole story but pretty sure he was on his last leg, was working for some other peeps and wasn't another 6 months or so until he actually had finished his project. Not long after he left for home.
This isn't the only failed Thailand bootstrap story either, hundreds of guys are doing the same thing. They seem to get here and spend their time doing everything but trying to figure out how to make a buck. If you read back to the beginning of this blog when I first started trying to make money online I would go to this hostess bar and share 3 big chang beers with my mate which cost us just 60 baht each, I had free rent at the time and just had to pay electric. Between me and my girlfriend my first three months trying to make money online I spent 23,000 baht and that was for two of us! How you could run out of money is beyond me, I still got drunk twice a week and my gf would find me girls to fuck. It took me 12 months before I was earning a measly 30,000 baht a month and I never bought a drink on Loi Kroh until the second year. When your balls to wall and focus on doing the one the thing you'll succeed.
The reason why Thailand and in particular Chiang Mai is the Digital Nomad startup gateway (made that up) is because it's so cheap you can focus on doing work instead of doing all the BS that comes with living in the west. Things like doing your own laundry will save you a tonne of time, don't worry about cooking dinner, cleaning up etc you can get all this done for you, in fact it's probably cheaper to pay to get stuff done for you than it is to do it yourself but you need to budget and you need to focus!
You'll find you have way more time on your hands in Thailand than you did back home, even if you work 10 hours a day you're still going to have hours of free time to do whatever you want. The problem I see people do is they spend the 8-10 hours playing around and only working a few hours a day, that's fine when you've made it, but when you're bootstrapping your business in Thailand you NEED to take advantage of the time you have. Stop thinking that "you're in Thailand" because all the best shit here costs MONEY and If you aren't making any you may as well be back home.
I recently bought a website from the empire flippers, made a few changes and doubled the daily revenue within 2 weeks and now makes more money than most English teachers. Probably the easiest money I've actually made in Thailand. I mention this not to brag but to prove to you that if you just focus doing the one thing you'll succeed. My focus has been on making money from content websites, yours might be trading, playing poker, podcasting, writing, whatever it is, just sit down and get shit done!
Your biggest expense in Thailand should be food. When you do your budget and you spend more money on accommodation than you do on food then you're doing it all wrong. You're better off staying somewhere cheap and eating better food than to live in better accommodation and eat shitty food. Of course if you want to save a dime then live cheap and eat cheap, one of my good friends an iPhone app developer pays 2000 baht a month for a Thai style villa and has cold showers. He's doing it right, my other mate trying to start a web business is paying 15,000 baht a month for his little condo. He's doing it all wrong. There's no greater motivator than to improve ones situation, it's amazing how hard you'll work when you make yourself NEED the money.
If you start your journey and you focus all your energy into something and it just doesn't work you haven't failed! You've just exhausted all options and found that it just doesn't work so then move onto the next idea. That's what happened to the Kid, by the time he figured out it doesn't work, he ran out of options and had to leave, don't be that guy!
So like I said I'm just an average guy with no special talents and I'm lazy as fuck, the only thing I can attribute to my success is focus, it's focus that helped me build this site into one of the most popular blogs on Thailand. It's that focus that enabled me to figure out how to make a living online.
If you chase two rabbits, BOTH will escape
I really like this quote because it applies to so many people who have failed to make it. I have another mate that was focused on writing e-books, then he opens a bar, how he wants to buy a car for some tourism business before that was a massage parlor, a guest house etc. Nothing he does you would say is successful and that's because he's lacking focus. Bit hard to write a book when you're running a bar, but hey, maybe he'll prove me wrong.
I havn't showed an updated traffic report for this site for years and I figure the best way for me to prove the focus thing would be to show you the traffic for this site, last months traffic was down 🙁 but still fairly decent and at the top for this kind of site. I believe the reason why this site gets a lot of traffic is because for 2 years straight I did nothing but focus on this blog and living the lifestyle that this site encourages. Don't just start a project half assed you need to spend every waking minute thinking about it, you have to live and breath it!
The main domain enjoys consistent traffic mostly from people who want sex with Thai girls right up my alley 😉
Your probably wondering how on earth does a 4 article site get over 15,000 sessions a month! Ask Glen.
This was the first subdomain I made for the site, it was supposed to be for my then g/f to translate all my English articles into Thai but like most chicks here she was too damn lazy. It wasn't until a year ago that I got back in and had another girl write a bunch of "how to get a Farang" articles which would feed traffic to my dating site ThaiLoveWeb.com turned out really good when the article "Find a rich farang boyfriend" went viral and now sits on top of google.
If you have any questions on budgets or anything in this article please leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
Hi Chris just a Suggestion , how about an article about Random Piss Test, especially Sukumvit, Thonglor Districts since your living in BKK, Now, a heads up for Yanks coming from Pot Friendly states, to be xtra careful about this Bullshit arrests, tnx for reading
I don’t really plan to go to those areas for at least 6 months. I heard about it, but from what I understand it’s at the same spots all the time. I’ll get to it eventually. I’d like to add though when I was a kid, just walking into the city (i’m from Parramatta) the cops would stop me strip search etc, they have full rights to do that, don’t see why it’s any different here. If you’re wondering why Thonglor, because pretty much every expat in that area is high on pot, E, etc so I understand why they’d put it there.
Hi Chris, believe it or not I have been following your blog here for quite some time, as I also created some blogs but never had the success you had. My first blog was similar to yours which is mytraveldates.com and it never made much money, something like 150 bucks a year, so my dream of living in Thailand was squashed. You once gave me advice to blog about my profession as a dealer in las vegas, but at the time I was using adsense, and I was not to knowledgeable on affiliate marketing. Now I have had some success with my 2 psychic blogs onefreereading,com and freetarotpsychicreadings.com however, on October 18th the new Google panda 4.1 seemed knocked my traffic from 60 visits a day to 10 visits, sometimes 20. This equated from making 2500 a month in affiliate sales down to 3 or 400 hundred bucks. Is there anyone you could suggest that could help me in my SEO to regain my traffic? I love the thai blog, and I also wanted my wife to convert one of my sites to thai content, however, she also is to lazy.
The problem with SEO traffic is unless you own hundreds of sites you don’t really know what to look for and WHY things go up and down. For example your site went down, if you owned another site that went up after the update then you’d be able to analyze the differences and fix you’re own site. I looked at your sites and you’re biggest problem is you have no decent backlinks. Read Glen’s blog to figure out how this is done and you’ll be on your way.
Literacy would be the first step in this dude’s journey.
Chris great post thanks for the reminder 🙂 Good to see you are doing so well. We will have to get together one day or another, if your in Mae Sai or I’m in Chiang Mai
Sure, I plan to go back to CM once a month I’ll email you when i’m back in town.
Thanks for the advice… and the motivational words for those of us wanting to find our own little niche in Thailand.
I’m looking forward to your writings on Bangkok…
A lot of value in this post Chris. I really enjoyed reading it
Hi Chris, long time reader first time commenter, I have to say- you are living my dream. First time I went to Thailand I didn’t want to go back home. I have just started my internet marketing journey got a few sites being built and Im slowly making a private blog network.
Thanks for showing your GA, I had no idea this site was bringing in that kind of traffic looking at numbers like that keeps me motivated 🙂
Best of luck mate and glad to see you’re taking action that’s really 90% of it, just doing something.
Great words of wisdom here Chris. I must admit I am guilty of “chasing two rabbits.” When you really focus on one project it’s amazing what can be accomplished. I think that’s the hardest part for entrepreneurial types. I know I’m sitting on a list of ideas I want to work on eventually. Just need to take it one at a time.
I wish you continued success with your ventures. Cheers!
Hope you catch you’re rabbit, great site btw!
hey Chris good stuff I moved to chiang mai about 2 months ago and now find myself working only 2-3 hours a day on my current project :/// rest of the time I waste talking to chicks on line, trolling dating sites and getting drunk with mates until 5 AM. really need to get my shit together so this is a good kick in the ass. theres just too many distractions apparently to night is a bikini party arg must stay strong and work!
Yeah it’s very easy to get distracted, I’ve been there I know. Girls take up most of the time. When you’re back home you’re more likely to go out just on the weekends but here every day is the weekend. Having a girlfriend forces me to not go out as much, if I didn’t have a g/f things would be crazy like they were a year ago. It’s really hard to find a balance. Hope you do!
Thanks for the article. Concentrating on one thing sounds somewhat like the OTOP – one tambon one product program.
It’s amazing how people here do make just one thing, noodles for example, and years later still haven’t nailed it.
yeah this amazes me too and is a general reflection of how Thai people are, they will make noodles for 50 years and their noodles are still shit, no effort or care, just do the job and get paid.
Hi Chris, is there a way to contact you through email of some sort? I clicked on your name however no email were shown.
And since you said we could shoot you an email right? But how do I get the email for enquiries?
Click the contact button the menu.
Chris, your information is good but not very specific. I’m not trolling or criticising just merely making an observation. There is obviously the online marketing/nomad/Adsense road to go down which to me is infinitely preferable to running a bar – been there done that, too much work and not enough reward, all encompassing. There is dropshipping if you are lucky enough to get a good and reliable supplier, utilise online marketplaces and keep on top of it. I have a very good supplier in China and make a decent return for no more than an hour a day. There are many easily affordable small businesses employing Thai people that will make a small but steady income with very little effort such as laundry, providing domestic condo cleaning staff, mobile valet etc. There are many options in digital consulting around marketing, optimising social media, YouTube amongst others. As long as you know your stuff then taking advantage of these opportunities is viable. One thing I learned very quickly as a farang in Thailand is multi-income streams. Whilst not a very common business model in the West these multi-streams are very much a part of small business in Thailand. In the West we tend to concentrate our resources around a main business model along with possibly two or three other sources of income. Turn that model on its head and instead of one main income you may choose to have up to a dozen or more small income streams bubbling away.
Whilst being industrious is vital to running a viable (I say viable as very few farang businesses in Thailand can be described as successful – that’s just the way it is) business, understanding how businesses are run in Thailand is very valuable knowledge to have. The traditional economic supply and demand graphs trusted by generations of western businessmen/women largely do not exist in Thailand. One very simple example is if supply is high and demand is low then price is generally reduced. Not so in the Thai business model, the price is generally increased for better or worse. There are many examples of this, a solid background in western business is not necessarily an indication of likely success.
As with all businesses getting the right idea at the right time can be advantageous but equally important is to be ready to slog it out for a modest return. Very few farangs make big money in Thailand and return to their home country with a large nest egg. Instead be satisfied with making enough to sustain a way of life that avoids expensive western style bars and restaurants, flash condo’s and top of the range SUV’s. Living comfortably in Thailand for a relatively low cost is certainly attainable on a modest income.