For the second time since publishing our book, Enspyre How to Start a Business in Taiwan packed our suitcases and set course towards Kaohsiung. This time to lead a seminar at the WuNan bookstore (http://www.wunanbooks.com.tw/). After 1 hour 30 on the fabulous high speed train we carried our camera, banner and 20 copies of the book in sweltering heat and blazing sunshine. By dint of living in Taipei, Kaohsiung weather was something exotic.
WuNan bookstore was not only our welcome area for the event, but is also the very first bookstore in Kaohsiung to sell our books! It is with great joy that we inform our friends from Kaohsiung that is now possible to purchase a copy of our book directly from WuNan bookstore! Yipee! We hope of course that other stores follow the same path (anyone got any connections in Taichung. Our help is not just for entrepreneurs in Taipei but all over Taiwan!
Twenty-seven participants signed up and twenty showed up for the seminar. Some lovely people had even flown in from Thailand to attend the seminar. We are humbled by the responsibility and hope they really got their money’s worth even though it was just a free 2 hour lecture. During two hours, Elias shared his experience and knowledge regarding important things any entrepreneur needs to know, like picking a business entity, how to get a work permit via your own business, renting office, hire employees, banking, labor laws, and so on.
As usual the audience were also encouraged to ask questions and make comments so we all learned from each other.
A gentleman asked Elias how he communicates with his employees, in English or in Chinese? Elias answered that he usually uses both English and Chinese to speak with his employees. Taiwanese people are well-educated and usually learn English from childhood. While finding Taiwanese employees who can speak fluent English is not hard, many Taiwanese are still shy about using English so a boss that speaks Chinese certainly has an easier time hiring and managing.
Another gentleman asked how many Taiwanese people you need to hire to get the right to hire a foreigner. First of all there are requirements regarding paid in capital and revenues that the company needs to fulfill to be able to offer work permits. Claire from EZ Permit says “The government agency in charge, Workforce Development Agency (http://www.wda.gov.tw/en/), will decide along with specific industry authorities the quota of foreign employees based on the evaluation of the employment market, employers’ industries, scale, employment plan, operation performance and the contributions to the economic and social development in Taiwan. Thus, it’s hard to say how many foreigners the employer in Taiwan can hire based on single point of view. However, if the company can hire more Taiwanese, the WDA would allow more foreigners to be hired as long as the company is qualified as per their paid in capital and sales turnover figures. Generally, per my previous experience, in the restaurant industry, WDA will approve 1 foreign cook per one Taiwanese cook (the ratio is 1:1). For other industries, please evaluate the whole situation according to above principle marked in red.”
Getting a Credit Card
When a foreigner enter a Taiwanese bank in order to apply for a credit card, bankers will often tell you that according the law they cannot issue any credit card to a foreigner. This is not true. The law does not say that. We guess they’re not lying to you because they don’t like foreigners but because they don’t know the law applicable to foreigners well enough. Here is a link to the applicable law, show it to the bank! They might still not give you a card but at least everyone knows where they stand.
Opening a Business
When you choose to run your own corporation in Taiwan AND want to have an ARC as a manager from your own corporation (Type B work permit), you have to have revenues of NT$3 million per year. “But what’s happen if I just want to open a small business? I will be certainly afraid of not reaching the revenue goal” asked a guest. The laws regarding work permits and companies are as they are. The Taiwan government sets certain minimum requirements in order to let us living in this lovely country of ours. If you think your business might not quickly reach revenues of 3 million there might be some other set-ups that could work for you. Our advice would be to contact our good friend Claire Ling at www.ezpermit.tw. She is an ARC/work permit consultant. All she does all day is to help with these kinds of issues.
When you are running a business, you have to report your value added tax transactions every two months, and your corporate income tax once per year. You can do it by yourself but most companies decide to outsource to an accounting firm to lighten their work. Prices range from NT$1200 to NT$5000 per month and often they charge you for 13 or 14 months per year instead of 12. If you wish to hire an accountant, we personally recommend these two firms:
Universal Law CPA Group
Tel :(886)2-2381-1022 #11
JusRegal Certified Public Accountants
Both these two companies are located in Taipei and service many foreign and immigrant entrepreneurs. If anyone know of accountants in Kaohsiung or other parts of Taiwan that has experience servicing foreign owned companies and/or speak good English, please forward their info to us at email@example.com.
Any entrepreneur worries how to get funding to start and expand their companies. Government grants and subsidies is one option. The national government offers many grants that are open for foreign-owned Taiwanese companies. Elias talked about how the Taipei City Government is providing seminars in English about their subsidies and grants for foreign entrepreneurs. Some of these are Job Training subsidy, New employee subsidy, Rental Subsidy and so on (to learn more about Taipei City Subsidies and Grants click here). No one knew if Kaohsiung City Government also provides similar subsidies or grants but we will try to find out. If someone has some informations about it, please don’t hesitate to message us!
Keeping the Book Updated
Since the book was published in January 2013, a guest asked if the book is now still up to date. Because laws are not endless nor immutable, information in How to Start a Business in Taiwan needs updating from time to time. Currently we have already made an updated version and anyone who has bought the book via our website, Amazon or LeanPub will receive an email with download information for the updated chapter. From now on, when a new customer buys the book, he or she should find a paper inside with a link to download the updated chapter at no extra charge.
After the seminar, we interviewed some of the guests in order to know their feelings about the event and their own entrepreneurial experiences and goals.
Who is he?
Frédéric Berry is a French man living in Taiwan since two years. He first worked as an accountant in France for big companies like SFR (Société Française du Radiotélécome, a French Telecom operator), Bic and Metro (a food wholesaler) for ten years. In 2012 he decided to scrap his job and go to Taiwan with his Taiwanese wife to live a more exciting life. He currently doesn’t run any business but want to open some e-commerce shop as a first step before opening a real shop.
What is him feeling about the seminar?
Frédéric found this seminar really interesting. He really liked the part concerning Elias’s background and about Tax but was not really concerned about ARC and APRC issues due to the fact he’s married with a Taiwanese.
Christoph Joostens and Stéphanie De Laet
Who are they?
Christoph and Stéphanie are a married Belgians couple living in Taiwan since 4 years. Christoph was an English teacher in the University of Kaohsiung where the father of Stéphanie also worked. Christoph ran a Belgian beer bar in the past but his business didn’t succeed as much as he expected so he closed it.
What is their feeling about the seminar?
Christoph and Stéphanie found the seminar very interesting, with great content. “Elias explained very well all the issues about Work permit, ARC and so on. It is really hard to find all these information in the same place” said Christoph.
Who is he?
Tal Gory is a lawyer from Australia who came to Taiwan in 2011. He hopes one day he could start his own enterprise. Tal Gory was one of the How to Start a Business in Taiwan book contributors who made the book possible.
Does he find the seminar useful for new entrepreneurs?
“A lot of great information, very useful for new entrepreneurs.”
(On the left is Hyde Chang, in the middle Tal Gory and on the right Lavey Ko, curator of Startup Digest)
We enjoyed our trip to Kaohsiung and we hope to return again soon to meet all the great entrepreneurs we met, and more.