August 19, 2010
I took a short tour to the Auschwitz museum a few days ago. It was my second time there, and I still lack the words to adequately describe the experience.
If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon and seen that vast expansiveness first hand, you probably thought the same thing I did the first time I went there and stared ostensibly at the edge of the earth–
“Wow. All the photos I’ve ever seen simply don’t do this justice.”
Auschwitz is something like that. You can read all the books in the world about it, but they don’t prepare you for seeing the gas chambers, the firing squad walls, and the tons of human hair and personal effects first hand.
Over 1 million people ended up there, and the majority of them were executed or succumbed to disease or starvation. They were the unlucky ones… or perhaps the ones who ignored the warning signs.
Almost 71 years ago to the day, Hitler’s forces were massed at the Polish border waiting for the order to invade. In retrospect, the warning signs may seem fairly obvious to us… but I’m sure that in 1939, the majority of people had complete confidence that their government would protect them.
As it turned out, those who relied on their governments and institutions to protect them endured some of the harshest experiences imaginable– war, occupation, and genocide.
Those who were prepared and took the necessary steps to safeguard themselves, their families, and their assets survived and prospered overseas.
We can recount numerous examples throughout history when individuals thrived in times of turmoil because they were self-reliant. They went against the grain, often to the bewilderment of friends and colleagues… but they and their families were better off for following their instincts.
Today, we’re once again living in a time of turmoil. The conditions are vastly different, but equally pressing. Worldwide extremism, resource shortages, booming populations, ongoing wars, and economic depression are all essential ingredients in stoking chaos and police states.
Eventually, most people will reach their breaking points… though most likely when it’s too late. At this point, they’ll begin the search for solutions.
The good news is that, for those who take action early, tremendous opportunity awaits. This is one of the biggest questions that I frequently receive, and what people ask me about when they engage me in personal discussion– what are the best opportunities overseas? What are the best ways to find them?
I recognize that economic interests really impact people’s decision-making process. A lot of folks are philosophically ready to expatriate, but they don’t yet know what they want to do, or how they will earn money overseas.
In some places, like Chile, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, and many more, it’s fairly easy for a skilled expat to find a well-paying job. For other people, their capability to generate income is not based on geography, but on the availability of the Internet or air transportation.
Still, others are looking for that killer opportunity overseas… they want to be the guy/gal who opens up the shovel shop in San Francisco in the mid 1840s, ready to cash in on the coming boom.
I like this style myself… and in that case, my ultimate suggestion is quite simple: get ahead of the herd, find a large problem, and provide a solution.
This, ultimately, is what entrepreneurship is all about– creating value by solving problems. The greater the problem, or the more people who are affected by it, the greater the value provided (and greater the financial reward for the entrepreneur).
I’ve previously discussed some examples that require minimum startup capital– property management, assisted living services, English language schools, organic food shops, alternative health care, construction management, property inspection, business concierge services, etc.
Each of these types of businesses has the capability to thrive in any location where there is a net inflow of foreigners. So where are these places? The same places that we talk about all the time in this letter.
I’ve also been reading a rather interesting report lately written by a bunch of permanent travelers and entrepreneurs; the report describes in great details some of their best ideas– careers and businesses that are completely portable and can prosper anywhere on the globe.
I knew the report would be a great read when I saw sections like:
– getting paid to be an ambassador to an island nation,
– how an illiterate made a fortune as an author
– how to make money as a tracer of missing heirs,
– opportunities for the artist with no talent, and my personal favorite,
– start a residential address service
Frankly, I’m marveled at the authors’ creativity, sometimes wondering aloud as I read this report, “Wow. That’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of that?”
Anyhow, I haven’t finished reading it yet, but if you’re interested in some seriously out-of-the-box ideas for making money overseas, I’d definitely encourage you to check out this book.