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10 Tips on How To Start a Business in Mexico

by Brent May

So, you’ve fallen in love with Mexico and can’t wait to spend more than a holiday among her mountains and valleys, lakes and oceans, villages and metropolises. We can’t blame you.

But maybe you want more than just hanging out at the pool. Maybe you want to start a (fill in the blank) business in Mexico.

It will be an amazing entrepreneurial adventure, but before you hang that “Abierto” (meaning “open”) sign on the door, check out our “how to start a business in Mexico” tips.

1.    Now’s the Time

In spite of the current crisis of 2020, Mexico’s economy is strong and locally, indicators in Oaxaca and Huatulco are stronger than the national average. Since the 80s, the GDP grew from a measly 2% to a whopping 24%.  This nation has become a real force to be reckoned with, reactive and proactive in the global market, and its future is nothing but bright.

Now’s the time to get involved.

2.    Grow Roots

It’s always a good idea to spend an extended of time in your would-be business location. Get to know the seasons, the weather, tbusiness in mexicohe locals and the business culture in Mexico. Visit businesses of all shapes and sizes. Network with others in the know, and take time to find out what worked and especially, what didn’t. 

Charlotte Semple, Canadian native and Xocodiva Artisan Chocolates owner, had this to say, “Come and live here for six months before you sell the farm and move down.”

 3.    Understand the Business Culture in Mexico

Business in Mexico is different than in other countries. It has is nuances, and you’ll want to be sure to get those much-needed “street smarts” before opening your doors.

MannerMex International’s Sophia Mannerheim believes this was the biggest challenge when starting her recruitment agency in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. (And this from a Canadian native and international business woman who has spent much of her career beyond her borders.)

4.    Find and Fill the Need

As a new “local” in the community, don’t forget the first key to a starting a successful business: Find and fill the need. Every community needs something, so be sure your solution is something you can handle with well-established know-how. It wouldn’t make sense to start up a cozy café if you’ve never worked a shift in the hospitality industry.

 5.    “Spanish, anyone?”

Learn Spanish. Mannerheim believes the key to business success in Mexico is to speak the language fluently. (This goes beyond being able to order a beer or ask for the washrooms.)

Semple couldn’t agree more. She says, “Many of our challenges would have been much easier if we spoke Spanish.”

6.    Dotting the “I’s” and Crossing the “T’s”

Liquor licenses, business permits, taxes—you’re best served if you seek professional assistance for these matters.

Governmental offices on the both the state and federal level can get you started, but attorneys will help you fill out the proper forms and get the results you need in a more timely manner. 

Semple agrees. Finding the right professionals such as contractors, accountants, and lawyers to guide her was the biggest challenge of starting her business in Mexico. This is incredibly important when it comes to monthly tax reports required by The Ministry De Hacienda (the Mexican version of the CRA and IRS).

7.    Partner Up

Many would-be entrepreneurs have found that bringing on a Mexican business partner facilitates legalities. Because this person is a national, many of the expat “hiccups” such as language, business culture in Mexico and bureaucracy snafus can be avoided. (Not to mention, the added capital can be helpful.)  

8.    Show Me the Money

Despite the laid back vibe of Mexico, money burns fast. Unexpected expenses always come up. So make sure you have sufficient start-up capital, and lots of it. Practically speaking, this means having more than enough to cover rent, utilities and legalities for at least a few months.

9.    Immigration Matters

The immigration process in Mexico can be confusing, sluggish and exasperating. With new immigration laws in effect just over a year ago, the immigration process has been a bit more complicated than in years prior.

In order to streamline your efforts, hire a competent immigration lawyer who knows the system and the proper officials. They will facilitate paperwork approval. Just be sure to talk with other expats who have been through the process. Find out who they recommend (and who they would avoid).

10.  Space Matters: Rent Vs. Own

Some expat business owners choose to spend a portion of their capital on real estate. One of the perks is that the purchase can double as your personal home and the home of your business. (Thanks to a lack of zoning laws in Mexico.)

Other expat business owners opt to rent space. While it may seem more budget-friendly in the short-term, you run the risk of paying twice the amount because you’re a foreigner who may not know any better. That’s why it’s always good to grow roots and understand the culture as we’ve mentioned in earlier “how to start a business in Mexico” tips.

Should you have any questions or are wondering about real estate or expat business opportunities in Huatulco, Mexico, contact us today. We’d be happy to share our experiences.

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