Two Things the 2007 Kenya Elections Taught Me About Business

I’m interrupting my “Why Entrepreneurship” series because last week’s presidential elections in Kenya brought back many memories from the 2007 election and its aftermath. Most of these memories are hard and painful, but others make me grateful for my time and experiences in Kenya and those are the ones I want to share in this post. 1. Be Ready for the Unexpected Driving back from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on December 30th was one of the most frightening times in my life. The election results were supposed to be announced at any moment. We pulled into Nairobi in the late afternoon and there was no one on the streets except for a few police and military trucks. If you have ever spent any time in Nairobi, … Read more

Why Entrepreneurship Part 1: The One Thing That Makes a Successful Entrepreneur

While entrepreneurship may not always be the easiest way to way to get yourself overseas, it is the most sustainable, provides the most flexibility, has the least amount of risk, and allows for the greatest social impact. In this series we will explore who can be an entrepreneur and the benefits I mentioned in much greater detail. In this first post of the series, we will explore WHO qualifies to be an entrepreneur and the one skill all entrepreneurs MUST possess to be successful. Who is an Entrepreneur? Many people believe that to be an entrepreneur you have to have certain personality traits or meet a mysterious set of unwritten criteria. Or, they believe that you must possess a specific set of technical skills. This … Read more

More Than a Book Review: A Thousand Hills to Heaven

I’ll be featuring regular book reviews on ExpatStartup with the goal of recommending books that inspire and equip you with the skills to create and grow your own expat startup. I will share stories that speak into the expat experience and/or provide the technical and soft skills needed to effectively launch a startup. Also, there are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a tiny commission at no additional cost to you. Enjoy! A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda By Josh Ruxin Ruxin’s book is a wonderful tale that not only explores the wonders and hardships of expat living, but also the challenges he and his wife face in starting … Read more

Where Should I Go? – 3 Considerations for Deciding Where to Start Your Overseas Business

When starting your overseas business, deciding where to pick up and move is not always an easy decision. Some people feel a pull toward a certain country, whether it be a specific job opportunity, a family connection, a leaning that is rooted in your faith, or a fascination with some aspect of the country or the culture. Others of us are less tied to one particular place and are willing to consider multiple options. For those of you who fall into the latter category, this post is for you. My aim is to help you consider important issues and equip you with some tools as you think through your options.   Cost of Living for Expats One of the most important things to consider when … Read more

3 Key Steps for Cross-Cultural Startup Success

As you prepare for life as an entrepreneur in a cross-cultural context, there are several key steps to prepare you and ensure your business is set up for success. When we decided to spin off our team building and leadership program into a for-profit business, our launch team did several key things to ensure our success. Today, I’ll be sharing some components of that process to give you some things to think about as you begin your journey. Do It Right Our launch team wasn’t new to Kenya. Occasionally, circumstances may require you to launch your company immediately, but ideally, you want to have some time on the ground to learn the business landscape and meet the right people. Since we were familiar with the … Read more

2 Essential Relationships for Expat Startup Success – Part 2: The Guide

In the first post of this two-part series, we talked about finding the Monk of the culture, an experienced expat who can help you adapt to your new host country.  Today we will talk about the Guide, a local mentor who will be instrumental in your success. When I think of the role of a guide, I naturally think about a tour or safari guide.   An experienced guide shows you things that you would likely fail to notice on your own.  If you were to walk through an art museum, you may see and appreciate the beauty of the pieces you observe.  However, if you have a skilled guide, those same pieces develop a whole new level of meaning.  You will learn the historical … Read more

2 Essential Relationships for Expat Startup Success – Part 1: The Monk

Moving to a new country is hard and many people don’t last long. Recently, I was talking to a couple who returned to the States after six frustrating months of trying to start a business in India. They hit roadblocks at every turn and culture shock hit them hard, causing them to come back to the States to decide what to do next. As we were talking, I mentioned the two essential relationships and they were blown away, admitting that life might have been easier if they had sought out The Monk and The Guide. I first heard about The Monk and The Guide from one of my MBA professors.  The idea resonated with me because, by that time, I had unknowingly experienced both of … Read more

Why Cross-Cultural Living?

I believe cross-cultural living is one of the most rewarding experiences an individual can have. Even if you don’t plan to start a business and be there for an extended stay, I encourage everyone to spend three months to a year living in a culture different from their own. I have seen the benefits in my own life and the lives of my wife, my two boys, and countless others that we have met along the way. While it may be impossible to describe all the benefits of cross-cultural living, here are some of the highlights: It will be difficult, but completely worth it. I remember days when I had 10 things on my to-do list and didn’t fully accomplish a single one, but not because … Read more

First Things First

Many people ask me, “What is the first thing I need to do to prepare to start a business in a new country?” They expect to hear, “Come up with a great business idea, research the local economy, or take a 2-week vision trip.” Instead, I tell them, “Go home, pack up your things, and move there. Don’t wait! Do whatever it takes to get your feet on the ground ASAP!” Maybe that is a little extreme, but in a sense, I’m being serious. The best thing you can do to help you learn how to start a business in another culture or country is to live there. Yes, it is important to do some research and talk to people who have been there, but once … Read more