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Thread: Monger Business Ventures

  1. #1
    Administrator Jonesie's Avatar
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    Monger Business Ventures

    RecipeForFailure-graph.jpg

    I've lived abroad for the better part of the last 7 years. Most of a year in Cuba, and about 5 1/2 years in Costa Rica. One of the things I'm fascinated with is the Monger entrepreneur. I've watched with amused optimism over the last few years how tons of guys will throw wisdom to the wind in search of a sustainable way to monger indefinitely.

    Don't get me wrong, I strongly support my brethren coming down and taking a shot at paradise. It's the foolishness of the approach that keeps me shaking my head. I don't blame my brothers for trying to figure out a way to make a living in a place they can enjoy our hobby whenever they want. But the lack of preparation they take in risking their life savings baffles me. But I know where it comes from...

    The most common example I see is a friend we'll call Sisyphus., Sisyphus lives in Nopussyville, USA. He works his ass off and does his bit day in and day out. Trying to live what other people told him is the American dream. After many years of doing this, and prolonged periods of sexual abstinence, Sisyphus takes a well earned vacation to Costa Rica/Pattaya/Cebu/Rio/et al. While there, Sisyphus meets lovely women who not only provide him with sex, they provide him with intimacy. Something that has a longer lasting psycological effect. Our brother Sisyphus has the time of his life, then gets on a plane and goes home.

    When he arrives home and settles back into his routine, the glaring difference between the realities hit him. He had a feeling his life was missing something, only now he knows exactly what it was he was missing. So as the days pass, he begins to think of ways to position himself to make his vacation life his regular life. So he starts liquidating his assets in preparation for his happily ever after plan.

    This has happened to almost all of us at some point. But what has me scratching me head is the way guys go about it. I went to a decent business school, but even if I hadn't, it's not hard to see that starting a business venture in a foreign country takes tons of preparation and a basic understanding of the culture.

    What further baffles me, is that it's almost always a bar or a restaurant. Not that they had any experience running a bar or restaurant back home, but somehow they think they will make their fortune abroad in a business they know nothing about. I could take you to a dozen places in downtown San Jose that at one time housed a gringo's dream. It's amazing how little research or preparation goes into an extremely high risk venture with their life savings.

    First off, even if they had an abundance of experience running successful bars or restaurants back home, they'd still need to adjust their business model to minimize the impact theft and laziness have on their bottom line. If there were anything Costa Rica could win a gold medal every Olympics in, it would the the Triathalon of Theft, Laziness, and Tardiness. The right to cheat gringos is written into the Costa Rican constitution.

    Second, most of our friends have no idea of the nuts & bolts mechanics that go into the businesses they choose. Little to no research, no council from anyone that has gone before them. They figure as long as they're getting laid, it will all somehow work out. Which is kinda' true, as long as you factor in going broke in the end. Getting back on the plane home still not understanding what went wrong.

    Third, lets say our brother has extensive experience running a successful business and wants to take is show down here. Then he does extensive research into the necessary demographics he'll need to understand once he gets here. Now he'll need to overcome bureaucracy and corruption at every level. See reference One. He'll need enough financial resources to weather the storm of corruption in getting permits/licenses, the massive turnover as he weeds out lazy/stealing employees, and a realistic marketing campaign that lets his prospective clients know he exists.

    There isn't anyone who wants to see more successful gringo owned businesses than me, but the utter incompetence of my compatriots is astounding...

  2. #2
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    Im not at all comfortable with the idea of risking my life savings and starting a business in Costa Rica. I don't understand the people and culture well enough to know what would be successful. I just wish there was some other way to make a good living there. Retirement is so far away.

  3. #3
    mtb1951
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mattyice View Post
    Retirement is so far away.
    Retirement searched me out a couple years ago when I was laid off. Later this year I am eligible for Social Security and I have pretty reasonable retirement savings. Also, I am unmarried, have no debt other that my mortgage (around $100K). Fisher Investments thinks I can live to my 90's on an income of about the equivalent of (conservatively estimated and inflation adjusted) $60K/year. So, I am pretty well positioned for the future.

    My 'plan' is basically to leave my home (in a northern state) in the winter and spend 4 or 5 months in a warm weather destination: C.R., D.R., Columbia, Argentina, Thailand, etc. - wherever the living expenses are reasonable and the women plentiful (at least until my dick and tongue give out). My only hangups to putting this into effect are my home and all the crap I have, an animal that needs to be adopted or pass on, and my 90 year old mother.

    I have a number of friends that try to convince me to open a business so I can have the possibility of a $100K plus retirement. I have no interest in starting/running a business with the attendant risk of loss, I'd much rather take the less grandiose approach and limit spending. Hell, I've only spent about $40K per year over the past couple years since my lay off - including 3 trips to the D.R. of 12 weeks total and 26 day cruise. I'm guessing I can have a fantastic retirement in the countries I've mentioned for no more that $3K/month.

    Any thoughts?

  4. #4
    Administrator Jonesie's Avatar
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    You can live pretty comfortably in most Latin American countries for $3k a month. You couldn't go nuts, but you could be comfortable.

    If your Spanish is up to speed, Medellin is amazing, and has the best climate. You can get by on limited Spanish in CR/DR, but if you plan to reside in Latin America, learning Spanish will be helpful for the long run.

  5. #5
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Starting a Biz in CR. Wow, the number of people who have failed at this cannot be counted. The amazing thing is that even though a person has never run a business, or at least the type of business that he tries to run in CR, he'll lose all sense of reality and try it anyway. CR is so much of a fantasyland to some guys that they just start to believe that the sky is the limit. Some gringos do succeed in the bar, hotel, casino, and restaurant businesses in CR -- because they already have a lot of experience and knowledge in that area. They are also willing to put in the effort to run a business. Being a business owner involves 50 hours a week of actual work, give or take (most likely give) 20 hours. There are also numerous additional start-up and ongoing issues with any foreign government or foreign culture. It's tough, make no mistake about it, to come down to the gulch after living your whole working life in the USA, open a bar in the gulch, and NOT waste most of your time drinking and hanging out with incredibly hot Latinas who are eager to please for $30 or $60 or $100 per hour.

    If you're a gringo that is dead set on running a biz in CR, your best chance is to stick with something that you are already good at that will work as a biz in CR. Stick with concentrating on gringo business -- business from the locals and other latinos will come later, if you're successful. Know what you're getting into with the local government and the local workers. And... if at all possible... keep your business out of the gulch, or at least have a retreat that you can go to so that you're not within a block of the Del Rey every moment of your life.

  6. #6
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    I'm kind of in a posting mood tonight. Just bored...

    So... about 5 or 6 days ago, I'm at a watering hole close to my place. There's a Gringo in the bar... Who was already pretty sloshed when I walked in. He immediately pegged me for a Gringo, and conversation ensued.

    Short Version... He's about 10 days into his First Visit Ever to Costa Rica. He's going to go back to the USA in about 2 weeks... And then, 1 month later, he's going to return and open a Texas-Style Beef Barbecue Restaurant in San Jose.

    "Oh... So you've owned a restaurant before, in the USA?"

    "Nope! But... How hard could it be?"

    --------------------------------

    I immediately give myself a huge face-slap and say to myself, "For the LOVE... of a GOAT'S Filthy NUT-SACK! No WAY! NO WAY! This is happening to me again!"

    I say to myself, ['just walk away, very quietly. he'll never know you disappeared until you're already gone. just sneak away... very quietly and...']

    "HEY! BUDDY! How would you like to put some money into this venture and join me?! I GUARANTEE we'll make MILLIONS!"

    "OHHH! FFFFUUUUCCCCKKKK MMMMMEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!"

    ---------------------

    I did eventually escape. Now I'm afraid to ever go back to that bar again. And I like that bar!

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