Business

Live locally, earn globally

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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Can you live in Jamaica and own a profitable business overseas?

For small investors looking to earn beyond the shores of the island, it is possible with a strategy in place that is heavily reliant on the internet. Our income ideas panel looked at a variety of ways that people can use to widen their income streams beyond their country of residence.

Alicia Lyttle, CEO of Internet Income Jamaica based locally, and Monetized Marketing based in Florida, actually has her employees split between Jamaica and the Philippines, with the bulk of her clients based in the United States.

According to Lyttle, the key to running a global business as a small entrepreneur is “project management. We use online project management software so that we can know how each team is handling our clients' projects.” Additionally, Lyttle noted that “choosing great team leaders makes the difference in how effective the end product turns out.”

And for the average Jamaican, Lyttle's recipe for widening your income base is simple.

“Isn't the role of a good entrepreneur to start something and have management run it? If you can create a website, market it via Google search engine with articles and videos, then push all leads to a part-time overseas project manager who then liaises with your outsource workers… boom! You've got an overseas business while living in Jamaica!”

Dino Hinds, director of Micro Financing Solutions, added, “Technology has allowed even the smallest company to be able to compete effectively against large companies. It has also given the opportunity for an entrepreneur to own and manage companies in other countries effectively. Today's software will allow a manager to get real-time information on a business that is even thousands of miles away. However, there are challenges that you must look out for if you're planning to buy a company in another country.”

Hinds observed, “The first thing that you need to ensure is that you get a visa to travel to that country. It is not possible to own a company and not visit that business physically, at least some of the time, so the ability to travel to that country is critical.”

He added, “Market research is even more challenging when looking to go overseas. It is important to understand the culture and norms of the country you will be operating in, as this can be significantly different from your domestic market.”

As the business grows, attorney-at-law Robert Taylor advises, “The first consideration when investing in a foreign country is to review the laws relating to ownership of business and any related property or assets. In some Caribbean territories, for example the Cayman Islands, foreigners cannot own 100 per cent of the issued shares in a business, and partnership with a citizen of that country would be required.”

Taylor also points out: “Most countries will require the physical presence of the foreign investor and the relevant visa to permit temporary residence.”

That said, Taylor notes that once these hurdles have been overcome, the key issues to review in any contract with a third party to provide services would include:

1. The laws of that country, as the laws of Jamaica will not apply.

2. If your idea is novel or unique you would need to patent or trademark that idea or invention and the graphic representation of the product in that market, because not all local patents and trademarks cover other jurisdictions.

3. A Non-Disclosure Agreement would be critical, and should be first executed during the negotiation stage between the parties, and perhaps be followed by a memorandum of understanding setting out the provisions that will be agreed in the main contract or service agreement.

4. The main contract must cover certain key risks such as:

• the risk of poor performance by the contractor;

• unforeseen fees or charges;

• property damage or data loss;

• potential liability to staff and the public arising out of an act or omission of the contractor and employment liabilities.

Taylor also advises: “In addition, the client will want to set out clearly how the outsourcing will work in practice and how it will be managed when it comes to exit.”

That said, there are people who also want to profit from companies who profit from outsourcing. Locally, investment manager Denise Marshall recommends examining stocks on the Jamaica Stock Exchange: “tTech Limited is an information technology company which offers services in managed infrastructure, IT security, unified communications, and cloud services. tTech also offers a service desk that assists clients in solving their technology problems. As at second quarter ended June 30, 2017, revenue dropped by 12.29 per cent to $52.25 million. Net profit also declined by $3.64 million to $6.89 million.

“The earnings per share also declined to $0.07. That said, the similar period in 2016 had a large transaction which resulted in gains booked, but this was not replicated in 2017.”

Even with the challenges, Marshall notes, “The stock has been volatile, but the long-term growth potential for this stock remains strong, given the global trend of rising demand for IT services.”

Of course, with all the best intentions to earn overseas while living in Jamaica, an education in entrepreneurship would be useful before you take the plunge.

Dr Carolyn Hayle of UWI provides guidance on this route.

“Entrepreneurship is definitely innate for some, but acquired in others. This main differentiator for success is the appetite for risk and the ability to see an opportunity. This is the new buzzword. So I would suggest that before you actually commit hard-earned funds, you should take a course in entrepreneurship.

“Just the other day, Coursers.com gave me a free course in the Essentials of Entrepreneurship. So you could start for free there.”

Moving from free courses, Dr Hayle suggested: “Pearson Educational System has an excellent course entitled “Entrepreneurial Mindset” which explores whether you are really suited for this area. Also, if you believe you have the disposition for entrepreneurship, you could pursue a degree in any of several institutions such as the University of the West Indies, Mona. They have a bachelor's degree which costs $275,000 per year.”

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