Dateline: Mexico City, Mexico
Easy is a word that is used . . . well, too easily.
From time to time I talk about how something I did was easy. For instance, I’ve talked before about how easy it is to open a bank account in Georgia.
But I’ll be the first to admit that easy is a word that is too often bandied around in this business of offshore strategies. In fact, it’s overused in just about any business.
Take the weight loss industry as an example. Weight loss products almost always come with the claim that “your weight will come off easily”.
Nobody wants to do 100 squats a day or eat wheat thins and veggie crackers. They just want the weight to come off easily. Most people want the results without the work. It’s basic human nature.
The same applies to the offshore industry, except that instead of marketing easy weight loss, you have people telling you about easy tax solutions, easy second residencies, easy offshore bank accounts, and easy offshore company formation.
But let’s talk about what constitutes easy.
How “Easy” Works
A lot of people talk about how easy it is to get your second residency in Panama. In some regards, they’re right. If you come from one of the countries on Panama’s list of “friendly nations” and have a clean record, you are almost guaranteed to be approved for Panamanian residency.
Approval is the easy part; but that’s not the end of the story.
The reality is, while it may be easy to get approved for residency in Panama, the process itself is not as simple and can be rather time consuming. Besides all the documents that you will need to get translated, stamped, signed, verified, etc.you will also need FBI reports and various high level criminal background checks.
In fact, many of the programs in Latin America that have long been touted as easy residency and citizenship programs (Panama, Uruguay, Paraguay) are beginning to tighten up their approval process. The paperwork burden has gotten larger, the processing time has gotten longer, and the bureaucracy has gotten bigger.
I have met far too many individuals who were attracted by the allure of “easy” in one of these countries, only to take one look at the list of required documents and promptly get overwhelmed.
Since it wasn’t as “easy” as they thought it would be, they put that second residency on the back burner, and then it got stuck in a forgotten corner until several months went by … and then a year, and eventually they realized that they had done nothing and gotten nowhere.
What purpose did easy serve in all of that?
In reality, there are a lot of things that are easy. Getting a bank account in the US is easy. Walking into quicksand is pretty easy, too.
“Easy” is the reason why people get sucked into a lot of things.
Signing up for the gym: Easy.
Cancelling your gym membership: Not easy.
People jump at the idea of signing up for a gym membership because they convince themselves that by having it they will get the transformation they want of getting in better shape. (And, why not? Signing up is cheap and easy!)
But the gym membership is just a tool, it’s not the transformation.
The most important tool for transformation is motivation — you know, that thing that will actually get someone to the gym to work out and lose weight. Yet, most people who sign up for that easy $1 gym membership promotion will allow a year to go by before they realize, in frustration, that it hasn’t gotten them where they want to be.
And now they’re trapped with a gym membership they can’t get out of.
Why I Hate the Word “Easy”
When I go around the internet, I see so many people just marketing towards what’s easiest.
They tell you to setup your company in Estonia or the US because it’s easy, but these solutions may not be the most cost effective or the best future proof. Most importantly, they may not be exactly what you need.
I’ve come to really hate the word easy, but it’s something that we as humans just want to know. In fact, when you look at our Nomad Capitalist videos on YouTube, you’ll see that the most popular videos on our channel have to do with the easiest and fastest ways to get a second passport or bank account.
We naturally want everything to be handed to us on a silver platter.
But here’s what I’ve learned after over a decade of going through the complexities of creating an international lifestyle I like:
It’s a lot easier to get into a problem than it is to get out.
For example, it’s much easier to just be born in the United States than it is to later go through the process of renouncing that citizenship after your international business partners stop working with you because of all the restrictions of US passport holders.
I had a guy come to me last summer from the UK. He had started a fairly successful Amazon business. He was selling his products in the US and was unhappy with taxes in the UK, so he set up a Delaware LLC for his business.
When we went deeper into the motivations behind creating that particular structure for his business, we found that he’d gone in this direction because it was easy.
The easy thing landed him in an even worse tax situation than the one he tried to avoid.
Another example I see all over the internet is videos and articles talking about how easy it can be to get a Bolivian passport.
Like those recommending Panama and other Latin American countries, they send you down a simple path. They recommend going to Bolivia, signing up for Spanish classes, getting a little apartment, and then going back and forth for three years until you can apply for the passport.
That might be what works for some people, but the reality is that this plan does not take into account the price of your time. If you’re a guy who’s sold his business for 50 million or even just someone making half a million a year, the idea of spending all that time running across land borders and sitting in Spanish classes is not worth it.
Especially when you can use a citizenship by investment program to save yourself all the headache.
The problem with easy and the reason I hate it is that the places and processes that are really profitable aren’t easy because no one has figured out how to make them simple yet. So, instead, you end up in a situation that is not cost-effective or future-proof, and doesn’t meet your specific needs. A situation that is a nightmare to get out of.
Ease and simplicity aren’t the goal. Doing what you want and getting the results you hope for are what’s important.
Plan for Transformation
When you don’t have a solid foundation for the things that you’re doing, that’s when you get caught up in problems. If you allow someone who writes an article on the internet to tell you how easy it is to get a Panama residency or [insert tool], you may forget the reason why you were looking at getting it in the first place.
When you have a plan and you put down a solid foundation for exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing, that’s when the magic happens.
At conferences I’ve held, people often come up to me or the other speakers and say “I need an offshore company!” When I ask them why, they usually respond that they don’t know, but that they just need one.
That’s not a plan!
You need a plan backed by solid reasons and motivation. Your reasons could include a desire for total tax freedom from the US government, or a need for a bank account for X reason, or a second residency for if a Plan B is ever needed, etc.
Now, if you don’t know what you want and why, why does it matter if it’s easy?
If you allow yourself to get sucked into the latest idea of what’s easy, you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
The point of the nomad strategy, then, is not to do things that are easy for ease’s sake, the point is to get the transformation that you want.
Once you know what you want, figure out what needs to be done to get it and then do it.
Whether it’s easy or not.
If you take the right kind of action, you will get the transformation that you want in your life. When you know what your end goal is and you have the motivation to work towards it, suddenly it becomes a lot easier.
You also get the stuff that you need — the right residency, the right passport, the right company, the right bank account — rather than falling for something simply because somebody said that it was easier.
Easy is (not the) Objective
In the end, the things that are truly easy often aren’t the popular answers. The easiest way to lose weight is to eat better and exercise. That’s not that hard. You just have to get up and get it done.
The hard part is motivating yourself.
If you don’t know the answer, then you shouldn’t do it yet.
You may need someone to help you find the answer or help you realize that you shouldn’t do it at all. That’s what I help people do.
I can help you do this because, for me, figuring this stuff out is “easy.” I do it all the time. I know what to look for, where to go, how to dress, how to act, what questions to ask, etc. But that’s my “easy.”
Chances are, it’s not yours.
Everyone has something that they can do effortlessly — whether by natural talent or years of hard work and dedication. That is also why people often claim that something is easy.
Easy is objective.
So don’t focus on easy. Focus on what you want and proceed from there, even if it’s difficult.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
In a nutshell, easy is not the objective. Figure out what yours is.