The Dos and Dont’s of Starting a Business in Taiwan.
1) Know the different business entities
Inform yourself on the subtle differences of each type of business entity. You might prefer a Company Limited by Shares if you wish your company to go public, or a Company Limited Liability if you wish to remain the owner of it.
2) Know your rights with banks
Be well prepared and know your rights as a foreigner it comes to things like credit cards, loans, etc.. Some bankers will close the door, saying that the law doesn’t allow them to lend money to foreigners, but that is false. Be persistent, and keep smiling!
3) Learn Mandarin Chinese
Speaking fluent Chinese is not mandatory to doing business in Taiwan, and many foreign entrepreneurs do not master the language. But knowing at least some conversational Chinese will help you in all kinds of situations. Moreover, it’ll open doors that may not be available if you can’t speak Chinese. The government is striving to provide English information and documentation for foreign entrepreneurs in Taiwan, yet the process is on-going. Most Taiwanese do not speak adequate English. And most information and documentation is still only available in Chinese.
4) Write everything
Ensure that all your agreements and/or contracts with landlords / suppliers / customers / employees / etc. are in writing, and are clear and unambiguous.
Keep in contact with other foreign (and local) entrepreneurs through different community groups, forums or events, such as chambers of commerce or the Taiwanease entrepreneurs group, Taiwantrepreneurs. You are not alone!
1) Avoid Taiwan-China discussion
Have a sensitive and potentially embarrassing political discussion with your Taiwanese partner or customer about Taiwan’s politics, particularly when it comes to China and party politics.
2) Begin your business without a sufficient amount of capital
This is not necessarily a legal requirement, but comes down to what you actually need to run your business. On paper, Taiwanese law allows you to establish a company without any capital (depending on the nature of your business, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will at least require some amount of capital; for instance, NT$20,000 isn’t acceptable if you wish to build a nuclear plant), yet you should think about invest enough starting capital to run your daily business.
3) Ignore all the administrative rules and regulations
Retain some knowledge, and do not completely rely on your CPA or lawyer, as s/he may not necessarily be familiar with all the rules and regulations relating to foreigners. Also, some expenses can be avoided, for example, to register a trademark. If you educate and inform yourself, it may be that you can register your trademark without the expense of hiring a lawyer to help with the job.
4) Only target foreigners living in Taiwan
The market may be too small, and the great majority of foreign residents are factory workers (over 75% of the 475,000 foreign residents). Having said this, many successful Taiwan-based foreign-owned companies have successfully targeted foreigners only; eg. Some websites and restaurants.
5) Flout Taiwan’s immigration rules
If you get into any trouble, you could be kicked out of the country, and all your hard work will be wasted. Consult the Bureau of Immigration if you have any question.