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Starting a Business

Posted By: Colby

Starting a Business - 02/04/12 11:20 PM


I am wondering what may make it difficult to start a business on Ambergris. I have read the "Doing Business" page for the basic legal processes. I am more interested to know what other oustide issues may arise (as a non citizen), not pertaining to the legal setup of the business. For simplicity sake, lets say I was interested in starting a company that offered snorkeling trips to Shark Ray Alley ( i know there is plenty, again just an example).

A.- Would it be possible for a non-Belizean citizen to do this?

B.-Would the requirement of staying 1 year continiuously prior (applying for citizenship) be required before opening the business?

C.-Would a non-Belizean be allowed to captain a vessel to and from the dive site?

D.-Would it be possible to own/drive a vehicle,(rather than long term rental) prior to becoming a citizen, if you are the owner of a business ?

E.-Would owning a business change any of the laws applying to becoming a citizen or visa requirements?

F.- What other unforseen limitations may be involved with this that I have not listed.

I know it is a lot of questions, however, help with one or any would be a great help! Looking forward to help with any of these questions.


Thanks!

C-
Posted By: Short

Re: Starting a Business - 02/04/12 11:40 PM

I would recommend to check with International Services Limited in Belize City:
http://www.belizeoffshoreinvestors.com/ and
http://www.belizepassportoffshore.com/
There is a lot of information on those 2 websites.
Contact person: Santiago Gomez.
Posted By: Tracker

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 02:43 AM

You will need a tour guide license which is only available to Belizean citizens. So I think the answer to your first question is no.
Posted By: ron

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 04:40 AM

I believe that the answer to C is the same, you have to be a Belizean to get the correct license to transport people to dive sites.
Posted By: BrusselSprout

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 10:10 AM

Just bring lots of money!
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 02:31 PM

A.- Would it be possible for a non-Belizean citizen to do this? YES. There are restrictions if you needed a liquor license I believe.

B.-Would the requirement of staying 1 year continiuously prior (applying for citizenship) be required before opening the business? NO (and residency would be 1 year. Citizenship is more like 5 years with a residency)

D.-Would it be possible to own/drive a vehicle,(rather than long term rental) prior to becoming a citizen, if you are the owner of a business ? IT'S POSSIBLE, but there are certain restrictions with golf cart permits. You may find that the cost of rental verses owning are pretty close (considering upkeep and maintenance).

E.-Would owning a business change any of the laws applying to becoming a citizen or visa requirements? NOT TO MY KNOWLEDGE. But I believe that they are more favorable upon consideration of your application for work permit or residency if you are a property owner or own a business and employ Belizeans.

F.- What other unforseen limitations may be involved with this that I have not listed.

1. COST OF IMPORTED GOODS (this is an Island, so most everything has to be brought in).

2. WORK PERMIT. You also need a work permit to perform any work functions yourself in said business.

3. DELAYS. If you plan on starting up a new business (verses buying an existing business), setting up your business systems (bank accounts, trade licensing, GST/ Tax ID #) can take time.

4. DUE DILIGENCE. It may be advisable to "come stay awhile" and do your homework before you spend that hard earned money. Those of us who live here always want more goods and services, so we might tend to encourage you to open new businesses (bowling alley, dry cleaning service, etc) without really considering profitability. I have been guilty of this!

GOOD LUCK TO YOU!
Posted By: Tracker

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 05:26 PM

What do you need to apply for a tour guide license?
Any individual who wishes to apply for a tour guide license, must present the following documents:
Training Certificate received form the Belize Tourism Board Medical Certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner Recent Police Record.
Two (2) Recommendations from persons who are in good standing and are well aquatinted with the applicant.
Formal recommendation from a recognized local tour guide association
Two (2) passport size photographs
Proof of Belizean citizenship.
Proof of accreditation in the courses listed in regulation 8.
A copy of your First AID/CPR.
Tour Guide License Fee of $75.00 (BZ)

Posted By: Colby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 06:21 PM

Thanks for all the super responses! I know this is probably a broad question, but, on average, what do tour guides typically make daily? Is this a high paying position- is it fairly common? Are dive operators, fishing guides, jungle tour guides etc.. all grouped together under the "guide" license or are their variations for each?
Posted By: Cara

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 10:53 PM

You bring up an interesting question to me, then. What kinds of new businesses would you like to see there? You mentioned for examples bowling and dry cleaning, but what would be your top 5? Anyone else? Please chime in!
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 11:20 PM

Well...... at this very moment I am craving sushi big time, but must wait until Tuesday night for Blue Water "sushi night". So a daily, "lunch" sushi menu would be right on time. Anyone?

Am also thinking that a hurricane resistant type storage facility (units) like a Publics storage would be great North of the bridge....

We now have a Movie Theatre (Reef Village) and a Home Garden Store (Ladybug) which is great!

Probably best to avoid the need to copycat existing businesses (pretty sure we don't need more hardware or grocery stores, hot dogs and rotisserie chickens). There are exceptions and competition is usually a good thing, but the market is small here and it waters down the profit for all and it drives everyone out of business.


Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Starting a Business - 02/05/12 11:23 PM

But a rotisserie chicken place is needed close to Marina's Store!
Posted By: Rykat

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 02:46 AM

How about a good daily newspaper! smile
Posted By: Colby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 05:20 PM

Anyone know anything here - I know this is probably a broad question, but, on average, what do tour guides typically make daily? Is this a high paying position- is it fairly common? Are dive operators, fishing guides, jungle tour guides etc.. all grouped together under the "guide" license or are their variations for each?

Thanks,
C-
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 06:12 PM

There are numerous individuals, businesses and resorts currently offering these services. Unless you have something "unique, new and different" to offer, starting up a new business in any of these areas (diving / fishing / tour guides, etc) would be duplication of services.

Tour guides have very specific requirements (I believe they have already been covered here), but it is very difficult for a non-citizen to obtain. Others can assist with rates of pay, but I would venture a guess of BZ $10 /hour (US $5) for an experienced and licensed tour guide (independent contractor).

And, IMO, even if you were able to secure the proper licensing, doing so could be viewed as a threat.

Posted By: Bing Crosby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 07:02 PM

Originally Posted by Rykat
How about a good daily newspaper! smile


Why, I can't imagine you know how to read.
Posted By: Colby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 08:43 PM

Originally Posted by SnoopysMom


And, IMO, even if you were able to secure the proper licensing, doing so could be viewed as a threat.



Would opening a company and hiring locals guides to run it also be viewed as a threat? I would think that this would be welcomed by creating more jobs.

Thanks-
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 09:10 PM

Message board advice is worth just what you paid for it
Posted By: JZB

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 09:32 PM

Colby, Opening a business and hiring Belizeans is completely different than coming down here and taking one of their jobs. You didn't clarify.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 09:44 PM

Originally Posted by Colby
Originally Posted by SnoopysMom
And, IMO, even if you were able to secure the proper licensing, doing so could be viewed as a threat.


Would opening a company and hiring locals guides to run it also be viewed as a threat? I would think that this would be welcomed by creating more jobs. Thanks-


JZB's comment aside, and understanding your intentions completely I can only assume (Odd Couple connotations aside as well) that the offer to open a tour operator business and hire locals is likely to be seen in the same light as "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you"...i.e with some serious scepticism.

By way of explanation I would simply offer that given the number of existing local tour operators (Bleizean born or naturalized) and the number of tourists available at any one time, the offer to increase the number of tour operators is likely to be viewed as simply diluting the number of tourists available to the exisiting operators...

but then, I know nothing...
Posted By: Wizardofaahs

Re: Starting a Business - 02/06/12 11:33 PM

So, from the looks of all the questions and comments, I would say your original question wasn't really hypothetical. If you can't offer something unique and geared to what locals want and need (they're the ones that are there day in and day out) your business will probably fail within the first year. Just sayin'....

But good luck with that.
Posted By: Colby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 12:09 AM

Originally Posted by Wizardofaahs
If you can't offer something unique and geared to what locals want and need (they're the ones that are there day in and day out) your business will probably fail within the first year. Just sayin'....

But good luck with that.


Thanks for the replies. Regarding Wizards comment-not to go against your thoughts (they are much appreciated!), however, tourism must account for a huge percentage of most local businessesí income. I don't think that most locals are paying to stay at expensive resorts, chartering dive boats, paying for golf cart rentals etc... Yet these companies do thrive and exist in significant numbers on the island. I certainly agree a service for all, local and tourist, would create less risk for a startup.

In reference to Bears post about dilution- I would think that populations of all major vacation destinations increase over time allowing room for more businesses going forward. I do agree that if there are already a number of one service being offered that a market could easily become over diluted. The better business usually makes it and those lacking fail rapidly in these markets, making it especially difficult to make a start.
Posted By: Canadachick

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 01:05 AM

I plan on moving down. I stayed on the island for a few months this year and kept a low profile so I could figure out if I wanted to buy or rent and see where my next step was.
Unless you are going to buy an existing tour company or bring a new type of tour in. There are a lot of good companies who have been here a long time and offer great services. The best advise I can give you is go to San Pedro check out the diffrent business that would be your competition see if there really is a need.
Also you may go to Belize and see a need for a business that no one else has realized.
One comment I heard while sitting at one of the bars enjoying a lighthouse. A few local expats were sitting there talking and a tourist was talking to them and made a comment about what kind of buisness they should open up if they moved down. One guy said...If I could tell you what would make you rich down here then I wouldn't tell you. I would just open it up myself and make the money...
Posted By: Bear

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 01:07 AM

Originally Posted by Colby
In reference to Bears post about dilution- I would think that populations of all major vacation destinations increase over time allowing room for more businesses going forward. I do agree that if there are already a number of one service being offered that a market could easily become over diluted. The better business usually makes it and those lacking fail rapidly in these markets, making it especially difficult to make a start.


Hi Colby, Of course youre right tourism is a very large portion of the local economy. More than just local in fact; I read a statistic recently that AC accounts for, someone correct me please, 25%? of all the tourist/hotel tax dollars in Belize. But it gets little of that back for improvements that would allow for responsible growth.

The intent of my post was to address your question about Snoopy's comment; the reason why a new non-local tour operator would be seen as a threat. The TO market is saturated with and by locals. It's not a rational reaction; its a gut reaction based on how locals would see it. A new operator, and a non Belizean, at that, would be seen as taking money from their mouths. That's what I was getting at when brought up dilution, less for them. Explanations of supply and demand economics and postulations on the chances for a new startup simply don't change (or mean) a thing when it comes to how they feel.

It seems to me it's an almost jealously guarded, Belizean business with a lot of "local ownership" assigned to it both literally and figuratively. It's because of that feeling of local ownership that a Non-Belizean would also find themselves perceived as a threat even if one was to get licensed. It's not that you couldn't work through it given enough time. I simply have no idea how many generations it would take ( wink ) Economics aside it's going to be a very tough nut to crack for a variety of "human" reasons. Just sayin'.

As to growth? lacking serious improvements and concerted control, the island can only handle so much more "growth and increase" before it's infrastructure implodes. Unchecked and unaddressed the resulting environmental consequences will make any of these discussions moot.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 01:11 AM

Heres one for ya: Monument and Jumbo-Tron maintenance
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 02:14 AM

As a former tourist maybe I can offer some market research, however dated it may be. I would not take a tour of Belize with a non-Belizean guide, regardless of their knowledge or fabulous personality or free drinks or whatever ...... most of us come here to experience Belize and a big part of that is the people of this country - ergo, a Belizean to show us Belize.
Colby, you may be the nicest coolest person on earth - but that doesn't make you (or me, or Marty or Jesse) from here.
Often the best businesses are totally non-glam. Maybe one of them is right for you here - in our everyday world.

Question - what is often asked for, frequently given and rarely appreciated?
Answer - advice

Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 02:21 AM

Colby, seems to me, is fishing, has no idea what he/she has in mind.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 03:46 AM

I don't know that you've thought through all the important factors.

1) Where are you going to locate the business? Walk through town and you'll see that almost all the docks already have a tour operation of some kind located there. Thinking about running an operation out of town? Then you will likely have to partner up with a hotel or condo that's willing to partner up with an unproven operator and risk their reputation if you don't provide quality service. Add in the lack of traffic and the additional fuel costs of course.

2) A small new boat set up for tours will run you at least $25KUS. A second hand boat will cost less up front but will cost you more down the line in maintenance and reputation when it fails to start and you have to start handing out refunds.

3) Advertise as much as you want it won't matter. Referrals are the only way you will do any kind of business. As you'll be a newcomer with no reputation very few people will be willing to do that for you unless you kick back way more than your competitors.

4) Start up costs. Good equipment doesnít come cheap and doesnít last long and will cost you many thousands a year at a minimum. If you donít keep it up your reputation will be in the toilet faster than you can flush it.

Sorry but such is the reality of the type of business that you're talking about.
Posted By: Noelle

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 04:24 AM

I think you should open an Apple computer parts and service store!
Posted By: Rachael Eteson

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 03:25 PM

Bingo Noelle!
Posted By: ron

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 06:56 PM

Trouble is they are owned and operated by Apple. Doubt they coming to Belize soon.
Posted By: Noelle

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 08:33 PM

FYI Business Computer Systems in Belize City will order me a new power cord for my mac laptop. I'm waiting for a call back on the price. Probably won't be cheap but may be cheaper and more secure than having someone ship me one from the States.
Posted By: Cara

Re: Starting a Business - 02/07/12 08:39 PM

Thanks @Snoopysmom for the suggestions, as well as everyone else. Something to keep in mind as we ponder a life change.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Starting a Business - 02/08/12 04:29 PM

Septic tank pumping and disposal? No joke - lots of tanks, no service providers. Pumping station for boat bilges? Lots of boats with heads, no place to pump them.
If this suggestion is not appealing I understand - but a bus-op is probably waiting for somebody. Perhaps someone with no sense of smell?

Posted By: SimonB

Re: Starting a Business - 02/08/12 05:01 PM

Agreed. There's a big market for a Honey Wagon...
Posted By: Bear

Re: Starting a Business - 02/08/12 10:02 PM

A big thumbs up to that suggestion Diane...maybe grease traps too? or are they not so much present(or perhaps nonexistant)?
Posted By: Relaxed

Re: Starting a Business - 02/08/12 11:50 PM

Where is the waste water treatment plant?.........forgive my ignorance.
Posted By: Bear

Re: Starting a Business - 02/09/12 12:06 AM

SW of town roughly 1.5 miles


WW Ponds per WikiMap

I believe they are the large rectangular ponds just SW of the unimproved white areas (which were formerly mangroves)
Posted By: ColdwellBankerSP

Re: Starting a Business - 02/12/12 04:00 PM

Lobby to stop the throwing of grease onto the ground and scoop it up to make bio diesel. Make it a law, charge $5 a month to rent the bin. We eat a ton of fried food here.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Starting a Business - 02/12/12 09:03 PM

As always the three most important factors are LOCATION, LOCATION and LOCATION.
The town core and south are pretty saturated. The north is an unfilled region.
A friend of mine is now building his home on a beachfront lot he bought in 1971. Back then everyone told him he was craxy for buying soooo far north - by what is now Captain Morgans.
The only way I see of every really making it here is to invest in raw land 'off the grid' and wait ten to twenty years.

Diane had a good idea - another one would be a pig farm - way up north so we don't smell it. Or how about a chicken or turkey farm. Right now all of this is raised on the mainland.
One of the sucessful gringo businesses was the Sausage Factory - so sucessful in fact that the owners from Redding, California sold it after a few years because they were working too hard and came here to relax.
The same goes for the sucess of The Laxy Crock Restaurant.
Posted By: lagniappe

Re: Starting a Business - 02/13/12 03:24 PM

I am debating selling my business or even just adding a partner. I am ready to expand this business It's been open since 2008. I am an American, have had no problems being an American owning a business here in Belize. It's been profitable since end of 2009. I had planned on keeping it open and opening another business in another Caribbean country but have found that if you leave the business to employees sales drop substantially. Seems an owner must always be around. And regarding location - we have it. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION indeed!
Posted By: Colby

Re: Starting a Business - 02/13/12 10:01 PM

Lagiappe - Sent you a PM
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Starting a Business - 02/13/12 10:56 PM

Pretty good selection in various price ranges of existing businesses for sale on this site:

Belize Businesses for Sale
Posted By: MOSSMAN

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:23 PM

With all the talk about owning a business in AC what if any kinds of new food establishments would work right now? Does the island need a a better Pizza and sandwich delivery place thats open for lunch and dinner or would a casual style resaurant and bar work better?
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:33 PM

TEX MEX!!!
Posted By: brotherbill

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:42 PM

IT WOULD BE HARD TO BETTER PEPORONIS
Posted By: brotherbill

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:43 PM

PEPPERONIS
Posted By: SnoopysMom

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:51 PM

SUSHI - Lunch and Dinner!!!
Posted By: Migsy

Re: Starting a Business - 02/15/12 08:52 PM

There are some commercial opportunities on this page.

http://mlsambergriscaye.com/index.php?action=searchpage
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