The first step to starting a business in Ecuador: choosing a business type

There’s a lot of bad information out there on this topic.

And it can cost you thousands.

I for one have been burned due to choosing my business type inconrrectly.

Well whenever you are starting a business then it is definite that you will require good shelter service provider. So you should select the good one.

Lawyers are supposed to know the difference, and they’ll say they do.

But most don’t.

The first step to starting any new business in Ecuador is constituting it legally.

So in Ecuador, which business type is best for you?

Here is an overview of your 3 primary options…

Sociedad Anonima:  This is a type of limited liability corporation that is best suited for people who wish to sell shares to raise capital from investors.  This is the only business type permitted on the Ecuador stock exchange.  Shares can be bought and sold without consent of other shareholders and without the use of a notary.  Must have assigned board of directors and present quarterly and yearly balance sheets to government with the aid of a certified accountant.  The legal responsibility of the shareholders is only up to the amount they have invested in the company, their personal assets are not at risk.

Compania Limitada:  Another form of limited liability corporation where a shareholders personal assets are not at risk.  This type of Ecuadorian corporation is usually for family businesses with less shareholders because before one shareholder can sell their shares they must get consent from ALL the other shareholders.  Also, any transfer of shares must be done through a notary public in which case they usually charge around $400 to oversee the transaction.  Must present balance sheets to government and must hire certified account to manage the monthly tax payments who usually charge around $100 a month or more depending on the complexity and sales of your business.

Sociedad Civil:  The easiest form of business to start, this type of business is looked at legally as more of an “entity” and not a “business” for commercial purposes although can be used as such.  The personal assets of the parties involved are at risk if business flops.  In this business type you are given a tax ID number (RUC) like the other business types but you do not have to hire a certified accountant to manage your tax declarations nor do you have to present balance sheets to the government.  Not regulated by the Mercantil Registry like the other business types, the shareholders can act according to what is stipulated in the original contract.

Other fast facts…

Non-resident foreigners CAN create businesses in Ecuador.

For all the above business types you need at least 2 people in the association.

To form any of these businesses a lawyer can assist you from start to finish for the going rate of about $800.

Just like in the US, you can own property in the name of your corporation.

Which business type would I recommend? for that please subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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The biggest benefit to being a foreigner in Ecuador is…

Sometimes you just have to play the cards you were dealt.

You have to accept the negatives to being a foreigner in Ecuador (one is that you will NEVER get the same prices for most things that the locals get, no matter how long you live here nor how well you speak Spanish. It is what it is.)

And the positives… like that Ecuadorians tend to trust “gringos” more than they do even other Ecuadorians.

Especially in business dealings.

For me, the biggest benefit of this can be translated to rental deals.

Ecuadorians love to rent to foreigners, particularly North American or European ones, much more than they like renting to other Ecuadorians.

We’re known for taking better care of places and paying more promptly and being more serious about the relationship in general.

And we can use that as a good bargaining chip.

I can often get locals to rent to me without even asking a deposit guarantee, when they normally would ask that. I can get other locals who normally are not interested in renting, to rent to me. Others simply lower their rent price.

Really it works. They want you as a tenant. You have leverage. Use it, ask for discounts, perks, late night massages.

Ok maybe not that last one.

So where would I invest on the coast right now in 2013? Which areas are moving and which aren’t? For that see my full 2013 guide to Property Flipping in Ecuador here (now back online).

To continue reading please subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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2 businesses everyone should be into… in Ecuador

I think everyone should be in two types of businesses… in Ecuador.

Hospitality and agriculture.

Agriculture is self-explanatory.

Some people invest in metals, others the stock market, others rely on their pensions, but I say, if/when the sh-i-t really hit the fan, I think its best to have something real, something people need… like food.  And although small farmers may have been pushed out in places like the US, they still thrive in Ecuador.

And I like hospitality because I like to sleep.

Seriously, I often will sleep in well past 9 or 10am.

Now past 11am I just feel guilty so I usually don’t do it.

And in hospitality it’s one of those businesses where you go to sleep, wake up and have more money than when you went to sleep.

It’s nice.  And its something that doesn’t have to consume you if you can trust someone enough to hire a good person to run it for you (not all can do this).

Plus at least I’ll always have a free place to sleep if I need it.

You can be in both these businesses types and still keep your day job.

There are many types of hospitality businesses.  And you can find ’em all in Ecuador.

Hotels.  Self explanatory, usually places with 20 rooms or more that cater to the short stay crowd.  Before starting beware of the amount of services your guests expect and the number of employees you will need.  A 24 hour business.

Hostels.  Caters to the younger backpacker crowd and usually has rent-by-the-bed dorm rooms.  A 24 hour business.

Bed and breakfast.  Usually a house converted into a small hotel.  More cozy personal feel for guests, some prefer B&Bs while other travelers prefer the privacy of a big hotel.  Like different flavors of ice cream, all good just different.  A 24 hour business.

Vacation rentals.  This is the least hands-on hospitality business where you can easily manage from a distance and do not need to have full time employees like the other hospitality businesses require.  This is when you rent out a whole housing unit (apartment or house) by the day, week or month to vacationers.  A growing international trend.  People who plan extended stays in places like it cause it allows them to cook and feel like they are getting a closer immersion to the local environment than a hotel can offer.  Not a 24 hour business.

Motels.  As it applies to Ecuador, different from the US, these are pay-by-the-hour places you go to shack up.  Usually on the outskirts of the cities in Ecuador.  Profitable yet slightly sleazy and it can be hard to get a permit.  A 24 hour business.

Eco-lodge.  Prevalent in the Amazon, its where people stay in local-style housing among a local indigenous community.  Can be profitable if marketed right.  Email me for help.  A 24 hour business.

Camp sites/RV parks.  Neither are common in Ecuador, due to lack of demand.  Everywhere in Ecuador except the Galapagos you can pitch a tent on the beach and sleep, but most opt to not do it due to security concerns.  Camp sites are few and far between and RV parks simply dont exist.  Not good business ideas for Ecuador.

Boarding house.  Common in Ecuador near larger universities, often a larger building or house with multiple rooms that rent room by room to primarily students who come from other towns to study, usually for around $100-150 a month per room.  Sometimes with ensuites bathrooms, sometimes not.  Not a 24 hour business.

Apart-hotel.  Usually a small hotel made up of independent multi-room apartments with furnished kitchen that can rent by the night, week or month.  A 24 hour business.

Retirement home.  Only the first couple are starting to pop up in Ecuador due to zero local demand.  For Ecuadoreans in Ecuador, it is a huge sin to put your parents in one of these homes.  Demand mainly caused by foreigners in Ecuador.  A 24 hour business.

Can’t say I don’t practice what I preach, come visit me at Quito Airport Suites.
So wheres best for these types of hospitality businesses in Ecuador?  For that dont miss my next installment by subscribing to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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The 14 easiest ways to get robbed in Ecuador

“So, they got me for $2000.” My friend said upon recently entering Ecuador 30 minutes earlier.

“Mother f##kers man,” I responded shaking my head with disgust.

You see, he and his friend just came into Ecuador with $13k in cash each, the limit according to the Ecuador customs official was $10k per person. If you have been accused of committing a crime, your freedom and future success are at risk. A wide variety of legal issues may also affect your finances, or place your family’s future happiness and well-being in jeopardy. If you’re facing deportation, you need the best legal help available – and you need it immediately. One of the worst things you can do, by way of hindering your own defense within the American legal system, is to delay putting your defense together. At the Law Office of Colavecchio & Colavecchio, PLLC we will help you take those first crucial steps to begin assembling your case. We are a Nashville, TN-based professional legal team with years of experience working within the court system of the greater Nashville immigration attorney area. We’re well-connected, with a network of partners and other legal connections across the state of Tennessee. We know who to talk to for the type of case you’re presenting, what paperwork to file (and where to file it), and when all of the respective forms will be expected by. We know how to handle your case, and we will give it all of the prompt and decisive action that is so critical to issues being resolved in your favor. With everything handled smoothly, you stand a much greater chance of a successful, favorable resolution to your case. Sometimes, it might not even make it to court. If it is at all possible to have any charges dismissed, depending upon the type of case involved, timely and efficient filing of all relevant forms and other paperwork will make the judge that much more inclined to see things in your favor. Whether or not a trial is in your future, playing by the book will always work in your favor.

The official made them put all their cash on the table, count it, and when it added up to more than $10k, they told them that according to the law they would have to forfeit 30% of the total amount, or in other words about $8k. Welcome to Grafe & Batchelor, P.C. We are a Jefferson County criminal defense firm located in Festus, Missouri. We represent clients charged with alleged crimes in state, county and municipal courts in Jefferson and various surrounding counties. These offenses range from minor traffic tickets to serious felonies and everything in between–no case is too big or too small. You will have over 21 years of criminal defense experience in your corner. We do not have associates. We will personally appear in court on your behalf and personally return your phone calls. The Defenders Criminal Defense Lawyers are dedicated criminal defense attorneys first and foremost. While we do practice in a few other select areas of law (see PRACTICE AREAS); criminal defense and its related fields are where we focus our experience and passion.

My friends freaked out, and the official said “Ok, just pay me $1k cash for each of you and I’ll let you through.” At this point, one could have the option of not contributing to corruption & hiring a criminal attorney from to report the miscreants.

They paid the bribe. And now are out $2k.

Just like that.

There probably is not even a law that states you can’t bring in a certain amount of cash. If you do, its cool, you just have to declare it.  Click here for more info.

There’s certainly no tax on money entering Ecuador.

The officials lied, and they prayed on easy foreign bait.

When in this situation its best not to bribe, and just let them do what they are threatening to do.

Don’t get visibly rattled. And meanwhile tell them to ‘go f##k yourself’.

OK, maybe not that last part, but force is good… weakness is not. At least down here.

Soon, you’ll find out they got nothing and will simply let you pass after they put on a bit of a show with the purpose of scaring you into giving over a bribe.

Be sure to get their name, so you can contact criminal lawyers Melbourne and file a demand later, you have rights, but they think you don’t know them, and that being in a foreign country you won’t do nothing, That’s why they try to pull this crap.

Obviously the best way to handle this situation is prevent it, by not bringing in so much cash, a simple wire can cost $45 or so and you can transfer down hundreds of thousands at once.

Here are a few other of the easiest, quickest ways you could get robbed in Ecuador…

1. By putting your bag with valuables in it next to you in a bus, or below your seat, then falling asleep. Low and behold, when you wake up your bag will either be gone or have a hole in it where some slimy dude reached in and grabbed your computer/tablet/iphone.

2. Using an ATM to withdraw money in a secluded area or late night, then have someone else use the machine after you who may look like they are withdrawing money but actually they are inserting a machine that can copy the card details of the last person to use the ATM in order to make a mold of your card and use it online before you catch them. To prevent use ATMs in front of banks that most likely have cameras in the daytime at well-frequented ATMs.

3. Paying for a bus fare with a large bill like a $20, the tenant will probably take your money and conveniently forget to give you your change. Be sure to have exact change before boarding.

4. By getting in a taxi without negotiating beforehand what the fare will be, you will then have a very unpleasent surprise when they tell you the price at the end of your trip. If you didn’t listen to me on this one and this happens to you, just pay what you know the fare should be and walk away, they might yell at you but they won’t block your path (from my experience.)

5. By putting a valuable in one of the outer pockets of a bag, then proceeding to check it under the bus. Yes, I’ve seen bus employees in Ecuador rumaging through bags under the bus, if they know where it is and can get to it quickly you’ll have a problem. Better carry on important stuff.

6. By walking alone on a secluded beach at night, in a small group you are OK but there is a reason Ecuadorians don’t do this. This also applies to getting drunk at the beach and going into a dark area to pee repeatedly, not smart.

7. By paying a lawyer in Ecuador up-front for services rendered, hah, need I say more, that is the last time you will ever see that lawyer again. Pay 20% up front, the rest when the task is complete.

8. By entering into those wierd Ecuadorian low interest car payment plans like at those islands booths in the malls in Ecuador… what they dont tell you is that you are actually entering a raffle and it could be months before you are awarded your car,. And that there is a bunch of extra hidden fees the salesmen didn’t tell you when you signed. (Get your car with no hidden cost from Buy Here Pay Here wowloans).

9. By trusting someone just because they are from your home country… bad reason. Make ’em earn it.

10. By commiting a minor traffic violation like not wearing your seat belt in the front seat and getting pulled over by the traffic cops in Ecuador who look for a naive foreigner willing to pay a quick bribe. Act like you don’t speak a lick of Spanish and chances are they will get frustrated and just let you go. If they insist just ask them to write you a ticket. Chances are when they see they aren’t going to get any quick cash in their pocket they’ll not bother writing the ticket, and if you continue to have issues if you think you’re breaking the law or you’re not sure how law works, you can get a criminal lawyer as kibbey wagner to help you resolve cases like this.

11. By giving a landlord a rental security deposit equal to 2 months rent. Try to pay a deposit equal to just one month rent or less. Anyone asking for 2 months or more is probably not planning on ever paying you back that money. Just sayin’.

12. By buying any big ticket item from a distance in Ecuador. Chances are you will get took. Best to be present. Again, just sayin’.

13. By leaving your nice cell phone on your table while you eat in a mall. A kid will come up to you begging, then when you look again your phone will be gone. Can you tell this happened to me? You can’t just make this stuff up.

14. Walking through a crowded area with valuables in your back pockets or dangling out of your front pockets or even worse, having an SLR camera hangin around your neck.

But hey, while petty theft may be more common in Ecuador, violent crime is far less common and that you could easily live years here without any incidents.

And to learn how to avoid the most common property scams in Ecuador try my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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Sold Hostal Murali, now what?

This week I sold a business I owned and ran for a year and half, Hostal Murali in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

It was going good, in fact, January of this year, 2013, was a record month in sales for us.

It wasn’t even really for sale.

I just got an offer and took it.

Business is business.

You can’t be too sentimental about these things, sometimes its just time to move on.

So what sticks out as big lessons learned?

Well, even if you’re the type, like me, that prefers to do things on your own, when starting a new business in a foreign country you’re not familiar with it sure helps to have a local partner you can trust.

In Murali, I had one Ecuadorian partner, a wealthy friend of mine who I had known for several years prior from a short stint I did in the country as a marketing consultant.

I probably would not have had the balls to throw everything I had into a business in a new country without having the local support network to rely on.

Of course we had our differences but we worked well together, I learned a lot, and we ended well.

You can find trustworthy Ecuadorians, just maybe not your first week or two in the country!

Also, I’d say the best way to learn a business is to just do it. You’re not going to learn it by taking courses (although universities would try to tell you otherwise), interning or consulting (you’re still an outsider).

The only way is being that 9-5 employee or owning the business.

Once you know the country a bit the local partner isn’t entirely necessary anymore, in fact, a month ago I started Quito Airport Suites as a solo operation, a small hotel near the airport in Quito, and everything is going good so far.

So if you’d like to meet stop by my new business and say hello!

So where would I invest on the coast right now in 2013? Which areas are moving and which aren’t? For that, sign up for my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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