What is an expat? The expat definition says that these are people who leave the country in which they have citizenship to live somewhere else either for a few years or permanently.

People move from their countries of origins to reside elsewhere for plenty of reasons. Some find a great work opportunity while others move for love. Some people move to a different country for political reasons while others just want to explore. A select few of these adventurers move to create something.

InterNations reports that just two percent of these world travelers relocate for the primary purpose of starting a business. As the business world becomes more globalized than ever, entrepreneurs who are brave enough to be part of this elite group have the chance to get in on something incredible.

This subgroup of small business owners is sometimes called “expatpreneurs.” It takes a healthy dose of business savvy, an adventurous spirit, and good old-fashioned grit to make this work.

expat entrepreneur

Personality Traits

It takes a specific personality to move to another country and start a successful business. A study from Northwestern University examined nearly 200 such expatriates and found that the most successful candidates are:

  • Open-minded
  • Flexible
  • Curious
  • Adventurous
  • And Culturally Sensitive

Each of these personality traits plays a vital role in prospering as an expat entrepreneur.


You should not move to a new country and expect the society to bend to your rules. While it’s essential to have a plan, it’s equally essential to be open-minded to possibilities. If you choose to embark on such a journey, be ready to change and consider other viewpoints.


This character trait goes together with open-mindedness. It’s not enough to be open to ideas; you should be willing to change your plan according to what you learn about your new home. Every country is unique, so it’s important to be prepared to adjust as you go.


Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it can only help an expatpreneur. To grow a business and be happy doing it, you should be fascinated by your new home. That natural curiosity can fuel you when things get difficult – and they will get difficult sometimes.


Whether you want to move to a new country to start a company or do anything else, a thirst for adventure can only help. Change should excite you. If you see this move as one big journey, you are more likely to push through and succeed.

Culturally Sensitive

If you want to sell a good or service to people within a particular culture, it is vital for you to understand the society altogether. Don’t go on this adventure hoping to help people see things your way. Instead, be ready to assimilate into a new culture, or at least sufficiently comprehend it.

Choosing a New Home

If you believe you have the right personality to start a business as an expat, you should then consider where you will move. Your first pick may not be feasible or smart. Be sure to think this decision over and be willing to change direction if need be.

Consider Language

Do you want to move somewhere in which the people speak your native tongue? Are you willing to learn another language to make this work? There’s no wrong answer to either of these questions. However, be sure to consider language barriers before choosing a new home country.

Legal Emigration

First and foremost, you need to consider whether you can legally move to a country. Scour your intended country’s government websites and look for feedback from people who have made the same trip. If it looks like emigration will be too difficult or costly, it may be better to choose another destination.

Industry Trends

If you can legally emigrate to your desired country, take a look at industry trends. If you already have an industry in which you want to work, research that area intensely. If you’re flexible with all business options, see what types of businesses are just starting to blossom in the area.

Hire a Scout

Once you have found a country and decided on a business, it’s time to enlist some local help. Check with your home country’s embassy in your new country to see if they have any resources. They may be able to help you find a location scout to assist you.

Getting Started

Great! You have decided on a new country and city. You have scouted out a place to live and do business. You’re all ready to go. Well, not quite yet. There is still some research to do before you officially open for business.

Learn Local Labor Laws

Perhaps the last thing you want to do while you live abroad is to violate employment laws by mistake. Before you hire your first employees, thoroughly research the labor laws in your new home. If possible, hire a local lawyer to help you sort out the details.

Understand the Tax Code

In addition to new labor laws, you will also be subject to new taxes. Furthermore, you could still pay taxes in your country of origin. Exchange rates and import/export fees can further complicate these matters. Rather than try to figure this out yourself, hire a local tax professional for assistance.

Make a Home

This adventure should be fun. While starting a new business is certainly a thrill, it shouldn’t be your only focus. Make sure to take some time to learn about your new home and meet the people around you. Make friends with the locals.

You can attend local events, chat at gathering places, or just be open to the possibilities. The more you integrate into your community, the happier you can be. Furthermore, it can help your business thrive as well.

Starting a new business is difficult. Leaving your home and going somewhere foreign is hard. So, when you do these things at the same time, you are bound to have some trouble. However, with a can-do attitude and an open mind, you may find that it’s absolutely worthwhile.

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