Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Doing business in much of the world today is a huge challenge.
For example, the guys at the World Bank have somewhat consistently been downgrading how easy it is to do business in the United States.
This year, for instance, the Land of the Free has been rated the 61st easiest country on earth in which to establish electricity for a new business.
For instance, in Los Angeles, it takes an average of 169 days just to establish electricity to a new business structure. Almost six months – and a cost of up to $20,000 or more – just to make your building inhabitable.
Even according to a group of big government loving bureaucrats, it’s now easier to set up a company in Macedonia than in the US or France.
Restrictions on entrepreneurs in western countries are higher than ever. Just the other day, a friend of mine send me a photo of a hair salon where women’s hair cuts cost more than men’s; the place had been labeled part of the patriarchy for having the audacity to charge more to cut longer hair.
Heck, two years ago, I reported that Denmark had made it a crime to charge more to cut women’s long hair because it was sexist.
Starting a business in many western countries is tantamount to a suicide mission as even countries like Spain impose ridiculous tax policies that are making the US look like it’s not the only bad actor.
Starting a business is becoming harder and harder as governments impose endless environmental regulations, require online course producers to become certified as universities, and all sorts of other job-killing mandates.
This latest regulation in Canada, however, takes the cake.
The government of Quebec, Canada is re-introducing laws that would require almost every business there to change their signage to include a French translation.
This will include even large, multinational retailers like Burger King or Pizza Hut; they’ll all be required to display French translations on their signs.
There was even a claim that a person’s name could be changed to match the “more French” spelling.
I was recently thinking of how much commotion this type of change costs everyday small business. Here in Malaysia, a 6% GST – essentially the first sales tax here – caused businesses to toss out their old menus and promotional materials and reprint them with reference to the tax.
What a waste of money.
In Montreal, a government going along with a citizen movement to create “No Panty Day” is forcing business owners to spend thousands of dollars updating logos, signs, and placards to comply with silly language laws that are driving businesses out.
The government doesn’t care about disrupting the cash flow of local businesses, nor does it care about attracting new business.
It is just another example of government looking a gift horse in the mouth.
This type of thing is happening all over the world, and yet most business owners put up with it as if there is no other solution.
However, economies are run on margins. Even a small percentage of businesses closing up shop can have a ripple effect on the rest of the local economy. That means that even if you don’t move in retaliation to your local government’s maddening policies like those of Quebec, you could be adversely affected.
Your business could be adversely affected.
Your investments could be adversely affected.
When governments make life difficult for business, no one wins except those that are diversified… or at least those that have their eggs in the basket of a place that ISN’T being difficult.
We spoke about this last year at a private club event in Vancouver when discussing the effects of Canada canceling its Immigrant Investor visa program on the real estate market there.
In a city like Vancouver where the real estate market is dominated by Asian buyers – many looking to secure second passports – the government’s shut down of an investment visa program was sure to make a dent on the market.
And I imagine the same will happen in anti-business Quebec, as well.
Chances are your western government is imposing some sort of their own regulatory nonsense to turn business away. In California, it’s unrealistic emissions standards, banning plastic bags, and higher income taxes.
In New York, it is out of control property taxes. Where you live, it could be something different.
If you already own a business, now may be the time to set up your offshore company, pack your bags, and fly the coop for greener pastures before the government decides to raise taxes again or make you print your brochures in a third language.
If you are starting a business, I always recommend it’s best to lay a solid foundation for success by STARTING elsewhere. Governments are going so far in some cases to even lay claim to all future success of your company if you merely dream up the idea in their country.
Any time I see some ridiculous lawmaking from politicians that don’t have to take responsibility, I realize that practicing flag theory is increasingly important in an era where not only are currencies being devalued, but the entire impetus for getting people to do business in a city, a state, or a country is being valued.
And all because some elected official wanted to kowtow to a special interest group.