Recently, a reader posted the following comment at the end of one of our articles:
What if you're not a person with hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up international accounts and businesses in other countries that might be able to withstand the financial meltdown/turmoil of USA? I mean for example if you're a recent college graduate with only a few dollars in your bank account, is it too late for such a person to get out of dodge?
How would someone in such a situation prepare themselves for the hectic times and internationalize himself, so that he can possibly be prepared for the hard times ahead?
It's a good question and one that comes up quite often, so let's take a look.
If you don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars…
There is a belief among most people new to this topic that one must have a serious pile of cash stored away before even thinking of heading overseas. Not true.
In fact, quite a few successes in the land of opportunity that America once was were immigrants who came to its shores with 20, 50 or 100 bucks in their pocket. By no means, an exceptional starting base of capital.
But, they were dedicated to a better life and willing to work hard for it.
It's that attitude that's the key to success, not how much you begin with. With the right attitude, one can start with nothing and end up doing very well.
If you're a recent college graduate with only a few dollars in your bank account, is it too late for such a person to get out of dodge?
Absolutely not. In fact, if you were to ask some of the grizzled veterans of the internationalization world, you'd likely to hear over and over again that the BEST time to get out of dodge is when you have limited connections to your place of birth – no spouse, no kids, no established career.
You have the greatest freedom to choose what you want to do and where you want to go without endless planning. If you're the adventurous type, it can be as simple as identifying a place, packing up a suitcase or backpack and hopping on a plane. Otherwise, first do some planning to identify:
- Which place offers the opportunities you seek
- Where you might live for the first few weeks while you scout out the place
- Some resources that can lend assistance in your new place (i.e. expat clubs, contacts through online forums etc.)
- Any other factors (like ensuring culture, language, even weather is to your liking)
To make money, you just need to find a way to add value to another person's life – whether as a businessperson or as an employee. As the businessperson, you first figure out what a group of customers need or want that you can deliver to them for a profit. A relatively easy and growing market is selling expats things from home that can't be found in their adopted homeland. You might also consider starting an online business focused around an underserved niche in the market.
As an employee, you add value by analyzing a number of companies in the area you'd like to live and identify skills you have that they are in desperate need of. Then, find a way to convince them that you are the one to provide those skills.
When income is more important than assets
Ultimately, for those that are starting out with limited assets, one needs to focus on the income side of the IM Triangle first: creating a solid stream of income (or multiple) that covers your expenses while allowing you to live in a different area of the world. While it might be nice to start with a little cushion, it's not a requirement. The right mix of attitude, ambition and creativity is all that's need to start living an international life.