Many people email us from around the world with questions about business models, wondering if we think it would work here in Taiwan. But those who have not been here before, who only see Taiwan as a stepping stone into Asia and China often ask why they should I choose Taiwan? Of all the countries in the world, why pick this little island?
We ran across a blog article we really liked, this one by Charlie, a young adventurer from Great Britain(http://charlieontravel.com/moving-to-taiwan-improves-lifestyle) She is laying out her reasons on why Taiwan is a great place for her to live. We felt like many of her points would apply to entrepreneurs as well.
Naturally, you could ask me:” There are probably a lot of articles about Taiwan written by many tourists, so why did this one catch your attention?” Well, the answer is really simple; because she didn’t lived in Taiwan as a tourist, but as an expat for one year. The title of this article is full of meaning as well: “Why Living in Taiwan Drastically Improved my Lifestyle”. How could we ignore it?
Let’s make the entrepreneurial links.
Charlie says “In Taiwan, you’re living really comfortably. That’s not to say I was a spend thrift, because I wasn’t, but my salary afforded me a nice apartment, a scooter, and as many bowls of organic noodles as I could fit into my belly.”
Charlie says she earned NT$50,000 per month (about £1,000/€1,204/US$1,658) as an English Teacher. It might not sound like a lot to you and it isn’t if compared against European cost of living. Don’t hold your breath! Cost of living in Taiwan is really cheap.
Okay, so she could eat all the noodles she wanted, good for her. Does it matter for entrepreneurs?
When starting a new business you have to spend a lot of money. If you have a company that is perfect for the Taiwan or Greater China market or perhaps is an international product that you could work on just about anywhere – we would suggest Taiwan would be a great place. Your financial runway would be longer here just because many costs like your own living, salary cost for employees and many others can be very low.
Let’s compare some countries with the Index Big Mac:
Europe: US$4.84 Japan: US$3.5 USA: US$3.58
Great Britain: US$3.67 South Korea: US$2.96 Taiwan: US$2.36
Here some salaries in different job positions:
Secretary: 22,000-28,000 NT$/month (£430-550/US$730-930/€530-675)
Sales: 25,000-33,000 NT$/month (£490-650/US$830-1010/€600-795)
Marketing: 25,000-33,000 NT$/month (£490-650/US$830-1010/€600-795)
Accounting: 30,000-37,000NT$/month (£590-727/US$994-1,227/€722-890)
Olivier Boutet, French founder of A plan B, a company based in Taipei specialized in providing computer and Information Technology, says: “The life in Taipei is so convenient […] you feel welcome in Taiwan as an entrepreneur.”
Charlie second point says “Renting only cost 8% of our income in Taiwan, whereas in London, renting eats up more than 50% of an average person’s salary.” For a two bed apartment she only had to pay TWD 12,000 per month (£236 or €288). How about office rent? To give you some ideas, renting an office in downtown Taipei cost about NT$ 2,000-7,000 (€48-168) per ping (1 Ping = 3.3 square meters) per month which can be compared to London’s NT$24,166 per ping per month.
– To give some comparison, Enspyre’s office is about 50 ping (1750 square meters) and cost a bit more than NT$50,000 (about £1000/€1204/US$1658) a month. Located on Fushing North Road it is not in the most high end area of town but it is very close to an MRT station and about 20 minutes from Taipei Main Station. If you want to know more about finding and renting an office, we have a full blog article about here: http://startabusinessintaiwan.tw/blog/378-finding-and-renovating-an-office-in-taipei
Even without doing business in Taiwan, you could live here, and from Taiwan leading your business in another Asian country. Taiwan is a gateway for all the ASEAN countries, Hong Kong is a couple hour away, Beijing 2 hours away, Tokyo 3 hours away, and so on.
Charlie continues saying she liked that speaking Chinese is an indispensable necessity! “The locals didn’t speak much English and miming outlandishly to get basic things was lame.”
Everybody knows English has established itself as the universal language all over the world. All over except in Asia. A lot of Asian countries are not yet familiar with the Shakespearean language. If you want to do business here, you have to learn Chinese or Taiwanese, or hire an interpreter. Learning a new language is not a simple task. You would to spend a lot of time to speak-well Taiwanese.
Many foreign bosses we know do not speak perfect Chinese and fewer still speak Taiwanese, but most agree a basic level helps. Most employees will not be able to speak English well so you will have plenty of chances to practice. And with China soon to be the largest economy on the planet, learning the language makes sense.
“For a native English speaker, it takes around the same amount of time to master spoken Chinese as it does to master spoken French. It takes around 5 times longer to master written Chinese.” – Jake Morrison, working in software development in Taiwan.
Third point, going abroad will open your mind! “Trying new things is an excellent way to improve your lifestyle.”
Being able to both discover and creating news things makes you a successful entrepreneur. It is well-know, a good entrepreneur innovate. Living in Taiwan allow you to discover a dramatically different environment (social, cultural, gastronomic) and a new way of life. Such experience will boost your mind skills. If you want to learn more about benefit from travelling, here is a link: 5-ways-travel-can-improve-your-creativity-and-thinking
Fourth point, take care of your health “It’s well known that physical activity increases both physical and mental well-being, boosts immunity and helps manage stress.”
Taiwan offers a great natural environment. Too many entrepreneurs underestimate the benefits on mental health providing by a safe environment. With the low-lying mountains around Taipei, you could benefit from a beautiful view, hiking in green mountains, walking along the beach. Do you know it is scientifically proven that doing sport is a good way to improve your brainstorming, stress control and energy? It help you to become better as entrepreneur. If you have some doubt about this point, take a look at these website:
Taiwanese are also involved by ecology issues. Taiwan is relatively unpolluted, especially if you compare Taiwan with mainland China. Why would you live in a country desperately polluted, where the sky is always gray when you could live in such beautiful isle as Taiwan?
Starting a business SHOULD drastically improve your lifestyle, otherwise why do it? While around-the-clock work and a tight economy might be expected, doing it in Taiwan might just allow you the physical and economic “space” to live better.