December 3, 2012
Chile is a great place to be an entrepreneur and start a business.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that it’s overly abundant with compelling, lucrative opportunities. I would group these into three main categories:
1) Products and services targeting the domestic market.
Chile already has the most robust middle class in Latin America, and the aggregate wealth here is rising. You can see signs of buzzing commerce everywhere from the retail shops to luxury goods to restaurants and movie theaters.
Even in the small agricultural town near our farm, there’s a strong segment of the population that has disposable income for the first time ever. The restaurants and nightclubs in town are slammed on the weekends, and the nearby casino is packed with locals pretending like they know how to play poker.
Foreign brands here are seen as a sign of higher quality. As an example, there are several local pizza chains, but only a few foreign ones like Pizza Hut and Papa John’s. These are the ones viewed as ‘the best’.
In May 2012, there were only 4 or 5 Papa John’s locations in all of Chile. Today, just six months later, there are 13. This is because income levels have been rising… and as incomes have risen, demand for higher quality goods and services has been rising as well.
This entire market is wide open for smart, productive people.
2) Providing products and services for the rapidly growing market of foreign businesses and individuals in Chile.
In particular, the number of foreign businesses that are establishing offices, moving regional headquarters, and transplanting managers is rising; everyone from Google to Coca Cola is investing heavily in Chile because it is the most advanced, stable country in Latin America.
3) Selling Chilean-based products and services to the rest of the world.
This could mean agricultural commodities, fish, timber, minerals, etc. or even online products and services from an Internet business based in Chile.
I’m focusing on this category, specifically agricultural commodities. The soil quality in Chile’s central region is just as good as central California or Iowa. The production yields are very high… yet the cost of land is much, much lower.
This is an imbalance that I suspect the market will correct before too long.
But perhaps the best part about being an entrepreneur in Chile is how easy it is. This is a country, and government, that still respects productive people… whether business owners, workers, or professionals.
This past weekend, in fact, was the Common Pitch Chile entrepreneurship conference, featuring a number of prominent business owners. Curiously, Al Gore was the keynote speaker… because when you think ‘entrepreneurship’, you think ‘Al Gore’… right?
Anyhow, several of the speakers were talking about how easy it is for bright, productive minds to come to Chile. Immigration is a snap– you can start a company here and hire foreign workers right off the bat.
It’s also easy to obtain investment capital, and there are few regulations to frustrate the progress of business. No Obamacare, no Big Brother tax authority breathing down your neck.
Several of the speakers remarked how pitiful it was that the US and UK were losing sharp people and their brilliant ideas to Chile simply because nobody can get a visa anymore in those countries.
Chile makes it very, very easy. It’s opportunity meets simplicity… a very powerful combination that ought to be on your radar.