October 2011
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Still Here...

…working hard mostly. I’m been meaning to update my blog for ages, so apologies to anyone that still checks in every now and then. Short story: I’ve started a business here in Vietnam. We’ve been open for about 10 months now and it’s going very very well. It seems that I’ll be living in Vietnam for the foreseeable future, so when I have more free time I’ll try to write more.

For those that haven’t read some of my earliest posts, I had moved to Vietnam in late 2009 and planned on doing volunteer work for about a year and then moving back to United States. Back then, I could have never imagined I would be where I am today. As my 1 year sabbatical in Vietnam was coming to a close last December, I began to reevaluate my reasons for leaving after such a short time and with all the opportunities I saw in Vietnam, I probably would have regretted going back without at least trying to start a business over here.

So with a lot of help from my Aunt, I decided to go for it. The length of time from the initial planning stages to the time my business opened was about 6 months; and although I was confident in my ideas and my business plan, I was still a bit shocked by how quickly everything came together and how short a time before my business became profitable. It only took about 5 months before I was the top ranked business in my category in Ho Chi Minh City. I’m not going reveal what I’m doing over here, because I’d prefer to keep my personal life and business separate. Anyways, I feel that I have a huge opportunity to grow my business by leaps and bounds in the next few years.

So from my own experience I would say that I think that it’s a great time to start a business in Vietnam. Vietnam is probably where China was (on a smaller scale of course) about 10 years ago, and if you asked most people today if they would have liked to invest in China back then, I believe that the resounding response would be YES! Vietnam is still one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a very young population, low cost of labor, relatively educated (very literate, but higher education is still not on par with the rest of the world), and low internet penetration (25%).

There are also a lot of negatives to living in Vietnam that I think will improve over time…poor public transportation system, terrible drainage system, high inflation (20% this year!), weak currency, massive corruption, and personally from my experience….the lack of timeliness being one of the most frustrating things to me. I’m sure there are a lot more positives and negatives, but I’m writing this post really quickly so that’s the main stuff that comes to mind right now.

I think that staying in Vietnam for awhile will do me a lot of good. Living here keeps me from getting too lazy and comfortable. Back home, I found myself getting into a set pattern everyday. Making money, attaining things, watching TV, etc…..settling into a boring existence with no passion for anything. I guess that can happen anywhere and I’m certainly not blaming it on where I live, but just living among so many ambitious and hard working people that I see around me every day, really encourages me to work harder than I’ve probably every worked before in my life.

I can’t say I love or enjoy living here more than I did back in The States….it’s just different. There are pros and cons to living in either country and it’s not my intent to stir up a debate on the matter because I know there would be a lot of people that take it very personally when you make any critical comments about their respective countries.

With the way the economies around the world are crumbling, and high unemployment everywhere, I feel very fortunate to be living in a country that is still growing quickly, and with limitless opportunities. I think that having lived in another country really gives me a leg up on the locals when it comes to seeing what is missing here in terms of service, technology, etc.

My current business is not the only thing I’m working on. I have a million ideas that have yet to be explored in Vietnam. Once I can hand off management duties to one of my employees, I will start on my next big idea :).

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