Steve Geoghegan

5 Business Ideas For Entrepreneurs Abroad

3 min read


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Moving abroad is a big step. For many people, it’s a chance to escape routine and take a new path in life. Whatever your reasons for moving, we’ve got a few ideas to help you develop your business overseas.

1. Franchise

If you’re new to the world of being an entrepreneur, opening a franchise can be a less-risky venture. It gives you a ready business model, strategy, marketing, branding and lots of support. First, you need to estimate how much you can invest. Two useful resources are Franchise UK and Franchise Direct where you’ll find hundreds of businesses looking for global partners. Investments can start from €2,500 and go up to more than €100,000.

Keep in mind that the world of franchising is changing. 20 years ago, most popular branches were fast food and lodging. Both are still strong trends (fast food franchises made €221 billion in 2016) but there are new opportunities in health and fitness, too. Franchise 500 – which rates franchises – placed a health-oriented company, Anytime Fitness, in its top ten in 2016. Green energy businesses and luxury retailers are also on the rise.

2. Tourism-based business

There are lots of small business ideas you can explore to increase your income while living abroad – especially if you live in a popular tourist destination. Bakeries, take-away kiosks and ice cream shops could be a good option. They don’t require too much investment and you have a captive audience if you’re in a busy location.

If you’ve got a spare room, you could open a B&B. Arty people might think about an arts and crafts souvenir shop. From taxi and shuttle services to tourist excursions and car and bicycle rentals, there are plenty of business ideas to develop. A healthy flow of tourists will bring plenty of prospective customers. But in the long term, staying successful is all about building a reputation.

3. Farming and viticulture

If you’re an expat in the Mediterranean region, farming could be a great option. The warm weather and the richness of the soil make the region exceptionally good for growing fruit, veggies or – our favourite – grapes. Wine lovers might want to get into viticulture. You could buy vineyards in France or Italy, cultivate olive trees in Spain and Greece, or dabble in citrus fruit in Cyprus.

4. Import / export

Why not bring a bit of home with you when you move? You could open a small shop with imported goods from your own country. The locals will love it – and so will your fellow expats. You could also do the opposite and export things from your new country to your home. In that case, you’ll be more of a mediator. So make sure you find reliable partners on both sides.

The world’s your oyster with import/export. You can import souvenirs from around the globe: wooden tribal masks from Africa, baskets and hats from Panama, ceramic pots from Bulgaria, seashell jewellery from the Caribbean. Anything goes. And if you take your business online, you can contact suppliers and develop your business even more.

5. Remote work

Working remotely online gets more popular every year. It’s flexible, you can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t require much startup capital – just a laptop. Ten years ago, it was all about blogging. Lots of people made money travelling the world and writing about it online. Nowadays, with social media, there are even more ways to make money. You just need to build your personal brand and nurture your inner influencer.

You could also retrain for a different kind of online work. Web development is increasingly popular. You could work as a consultant in your area of expertise. If you’ve got good language skills, you might want to be an online translator. The possibilities are limitless. The most important thing is to find work that you’re passionate about.

*The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing (September 2019). It could change depending on the outcome of Brexit. *

Final thoughts

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