Tips on Starting a Business in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Whether you want to start an LLC, JSC, franchise or any other sort of local entity in HCMC, there are myriad problems – from cultural precautions to transparency to taxes – that ultimately drive away the uninitiated.

How do you even begin to enter this exciting, yet wild territory?

LLC or JSC?

For the purposes of brevity, we’ll look at two particular local entities: the jointly-owned foreign-Vietnamese LLC, and the JSC. The following information has been gathered with the aid of the Healy Consultants PLC website.

Joint-venture LLC – There are two shareholders in a joint-venture limited liability company: a foreigner and a local. This entity allows entry into many industries and foreign ownership can range from a maximum of 49% to 99%. These companies are required to have an appointed local legal representative, a capital account at a local bank, and a Foreign Investment Certificate (FIC).

Also required is a registered local address, a certificate of deposit from a local bank for the share capital ($50,000), and yearly audited financial statements.

This entity is best for foreign business owners who want access to partially restricted industries, and when the business owner has a local partner they trust. It takes about three months to set up.

JSC – For a joint stock company, there must be three shareholders of any nationality, although one of them must be appointed as the legal representative of the business. If that representative is a foreigner, they will be required to get a work permit and show proof of at least one year of management experience.

In addition, requirements include a bank certificate as proof of the funds available for investment ($10,000), the opening of a capital account with a local bank, an FIC, and annual submission of audited financial statements.

A JSC is a useful entity for anyone looking to start a business with more than two partners. The lower investment requirements are also a plus. It takes about two months to set up.

Labour and Tax

Kenneth Atkinson, the Executive Chairman at Grant Thornton Vietnam, pointed out two big factors to keep in mind:

The tax regime and labour laws are the two most important things to keep in mind. Both are quite complex. In the context of taxes, structuring your investments from a tax-planning perspective is very important. You have to ask yourself questions like, are you investing from your personal name? Are you investing through a corporate structure? What double tax treaties exist that make it beneficial to invest from, say, Singapore, instead of Hong Kong or the U.K. What is the impact of those regulations if you exit the business through a sale?

A thorough read of the Labour Code (vietnamlegal.com.vn is a useful resource) is a must, and when it comes to local taxes, Grant Thornton’s 2016 Doing Business in Vietnam report has a great overview of tax requirements.

 

Cultural Mindfulness

If you’re coming from an Asian country, you’re likely to understand the cultural ways here better than Westerners. Gone are brash negotiations, rapid-fire contracts and cutting to the chase. Vietnam in general is a long-term game that requires patience above all else.

The client meetings at karaoke bars (now slowly being overtaken by beer club meetings), the formal business cards exchange, the contract-over-drinks approach, the sheer politeness of it all – it’s all part of getting to know you as a person. People do business with whom they trust, and foreigners here seem to like these practices enough to uphold the local business culture. As Mr. Atkinson points out: “I actually prefer being handed a business card rather than some American guy flicking it across a table at me.” A final story from Mr. Atkinson:

In 1999, we had a fairly big project with the Asian Development Bank and the Ministry of Finance. I first went to dinner with these guys at the introduction of a Vietnamese friend. We had an enjoyable dinner and a few bottles of wine. Once it ended, my friend said they liked me, but they didn’t know Grant Thornton. So I said to one of the guys, What football team do you support? He said, Manchester United. I said, That’s great because we’re the auditors to Manchester United. Then two bottles of brandy appeared on the table and we stay there for another hour and a half. In the end we actually got the job.


Who is Behind #iAMHCMC?

By: City Pass Guide

You’ve seen us dishing out Saigon-centric features, news, reviews and the occasional dirty joke since November 2015. But who’s behind this 16-page “rag”? Who’s grinding away and ripping their hair out minutes before the pages hit print? Who’s going out to personally distribute their creation into the hands of thousands of working Saigonese? This issue we decided to reveal the faces behind the names. Next time you see them out, wave hello and get an autograph.

 

Aleks

Aleks is the content manager of Citypassguide.com and #iAMHCMC, overseeing the company’s print and online products. Studying journalism in New York City, he has been copywriting and editing for seven years. In 2014, Aleks founded his own marketing business based in New York, focusing on content creation and social media marketing. When the company disbanded, he began traveling Asia and landed in Ho Chi Minh City on a chance flight. Two days later he began working with Citypassguide.com. Aleks enjoys networking, ice cream, learning Vietnamese and the occasional whiskey.

 

Zoe

Zoe is a 22 year old copywriter and illustrator who has lived all over the world. She single-handedly created the brand concept for #iAMHCMC. Born in the UK, Zoe's family moved to Sydney, Australia when she was little and she continued her schooling there. At age 18 she left Australia, without a degree, to travel and freelance as a writer and artist. Now, almost four years later, Zoe is still on the road, working as illustrator and email marketer for Citypassguide.com. As well as her work, Zoe likes to sleep, savour Italian coffee and experiment in the kitchen with weird Vietnamese vegetables.

 

Keith Hancock

Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and now Ho Chi Minh City since early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, he owns and writes for Southeast Asia travel site www.inseasia.com

 

Hannah

Hannah arrived to Vietnam on a whim one year ago for a Graphic Design position. Before this, she had spent time volunteering with children and animals in Zimbabwe. Upon return to Norway she realised she wasn’t done exploring the world and set off to find her new adventure that turned out to be here in Saigon. From GD Intern to her current job as Project Coordinator, she has found the path she wants to continue with. Hannah travels around Southeast Asia whenever she has a chance. When she’s not travelling she likes to spend time on her balcony in Thao Dien with a glass of wine (or two).

 

Patrick

Patrick Gaveau is the owner and creator of Citypassguide.com, Vietnam's leading travel information provider, and editor-in-chief of #iAMHCMC. A native of Africa, he is a French citizen. Patrick followed the WICE (World Leisure International Center of Excellence) Master program of Social Science of Leisure, Tourism and Environment at Wageningen University (Holland). He graduated with Honours from Aix / Marseille II with a master's degree in Economics and the Finance of Tourism (France). He is currently living in Ho Chi Minh City with his Vietnamese wife and has two beautiful daughters.


Vietnamese Workplaces and Habits

By: City Pass Guide

Understanding Vietnamese workplaces is vital for integration and success. Of course, the following are generalisations and stereotypes, but they indicate the behaviours that are fostered in most companies:

- Men continue to dominate the Vietnamese business world, though things are changing.

- Women working in Vietnam traditionally occupy lower-status jobs, but they tend to work harder.

- Most men are able to work with foreign women in more senior roles and will treat them equally.

- Status is an important aspect of Vietnam’s business world and society. It is achieved not through age alone but also through education.

- Companies function in a hierarchical manner.

- Generally speaking, the older generation is more loyal than the younger generations.

- Decisions are made at the top and the decision maker is often the oldest, though this is also changing.

- Vietnamese are respectful of their colleagues, especially those senior in age.

- Business relationships take time to develop as Vietnamese prefer to get to know their foreign counterparts before conducting business.

- Vietnamese names start with the surname followed by the middle and lastly the first name. It is important to use titles whenever possible.

- When referring to one another, Vietnamese people will use the appropriate title followed by the first name.

- The nap after lunchtime is a cultural norm and is counted as part of the total working hours. It raises staff efficiency, allowing them to return to work refreshed and refocused.

- It is common for senior managers to be out of the office enhancing their ‘personal’ relationships and conducting ‘social’ intercourse on a daily basis.

- Disregard of personal responsibility and accountability is a major problem. You cannot rely on diplomas alone to establish someone’s competency.

- Trying to reduce work pressure and creating a friendly and relaxing office atmosphere is great.

- Vietnamese institutions often do not select the best and brightest, but rather their family members or closest friends.

- Business relationships are relatively formal.

- Disagreements are handled in a subtle manner, and if you adopt this, you will likely find it effective.

- Chatting or sharing a snack with colleagues is part and parcel of office life.

- Most Vietnamese would benefit from coaching in phone manners when introducing themselves on the phone.

- If a colleague (or a colleague’s family member) is sick, Vietnamese people will take the time to visit, usually bringing along a small gift.

- Vietnam is well known for its disciplined, hard-working and fast-learning population. Still, sometimes you may need to repeat things more than once. Make sure your message is well understood.

- Remember that family is very important here, and you should enquire from time to time about your colleagues’ families.

Photos by: shutterstock


How to obtain a temporary resident card in Vietnam?

By: City Pass Guide

What are the cases in which a foreigner can obtain a temporary resident card in Vietnam?

- He/she is member of diplomatic missions, consular offices, representative offices of international organisations of the UN, intergovernmental organisations in Vietnam, or the spouse, child under 18 years of age, housemaid that comes along during his/her term of office. In this case, he/she will be issued with a temporary resident card NG3.

- He/she has a visa of type LV1, LV2, ĐT, NN1, NN2, DH, PV1, LĐ or TT. In these cases, he/she will be issued a temporary residence card NG3.

What do the codes of common visa types in Vietnam mean?

NG3: Issued to members of diplomatic missions, consular offices, representative offices of international organisations affiliated with the UN, representative offices of intergovernmental organisations and their spouses, children under 18 years of age, and housemaids during their term of office.

LV1: Issued to people who come to work with units affiliated with Vietnam’s Communist Party; the National Assembly, the government, Central Committee of Vietnamese Fatherland Front, the People’s Supreme Court, the People’s Supreme Procuracy, State Audit Agency, ministries, ministerial agencies, governmental agencies, the People’s Councils, the People’s Committees of provinces.

LV2: Issued to people who come to work with socio-political organisations, social organisations, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

ĐT: Issued to foreign investors in Vietnam and foreign lawyers practising in Vietnam.

DH: Issued to people who come to study or serve internships.

V1: Issued to journalists who have permanent residency in Vietnam.

: Issued to people who come to work.

TT: Issued to foreigners who are parents, spouses or children under 18 years of age of foreigners issued with LV1, LV2, ĐT, NN1, NN2, DH, PV1, LĐ visas, or foreigners who are parents, spouses or children of Vietnamese citizens.

What are the documents needed to obtain a temporary resident card in Vietnam?

The main required documents needed for the temporary resident card are:

- A written request from the inviting entity
- A declaration bearing a picture
- The passport
- Papers proving your status (such as: Proof of residence registration with ward police where the applicant lives; Work permit (if applicable); Certificate, business registration certificate, licence of establishment of representative office, company branch (including announcement of activation), certificate of seal registration. In the case of family members, proof of relation can include a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or family book).

Note that any papers that are not in Vietnamese must be translated and notarised or legalised according to Vietnamese regulations.

Where can you apply for a temporary residence card?

According to the 2015 Immigration Law, an application for the NG3 temporary residence card must be made to the competent authority of the Ministry of Affairs while applications for other types of temporary residence card must be made at the immigration authority in the same administrative division in which the inviting entity is based or residing.

Therefore, for other temporary residence cards than NG3, your documents need to be filed with the Immigration Department. The government fee varies according to the duration of the temporary resident card, such as: one year: US$80; one to two years: US$100; two to three years: US$120.

How long does it take to obtain a temporary resident card in Vietnam?

Theoretically, the time frame for processing is between five and seven working days.

What is the address of public authority that you need to know to obtain immigration papers?

Immigration Department
Office of the Ministry of Public Security
254 Nguyễn Trãi, D1; +84 28 3920 2300

Immigration Department
Office of the HCMC Public Security
196 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, D3; +84 28 3829 9398


Google’s New Move

By: Zoe Osborne

As the world’s largest search engine, Google has long been an essential part in any hotel or restaurant’s online marketing strategy. Listing your business on Google My Business, filling it with quality photos and information and gathering good reviews and ratings is a clear first step in creating an online presence.

But with an exciting new development announced earlier this month, the importance of a good Google presence for your hotel, resort or restaurant is greater than ever. The 20th century information giant is now threatening to overthrow TripAdvisor and Expedia as the world’s biggest and most comprehensive travel agent. So what exactly is Google doing, and why should you want to know?

Google has developed a shiny new search function for mobile browsers called Google Destinations, designed to make the process of researching and planning a trip easier and more intuitive. The search function compiles information from across Google’s existing platforms - Google+, Maps, Google My Business, etc. as well as basic web content to create an app-like encyclopedia of information before any other search results are listed. All users have to do is type a destination name plus “destination” into the search bar, e.g. “Vietnam destination”. The software is anticipated on desktop later this year but is currently exclusively for mobile searches. As Google notes, the smartphone is changing the face of internet use with more and more people relying on it, especially travellers.

The function includes a Lonely Planet-esque array of destination-specific details, as well as flight costs, hotel and restaurant suggestions, a general overall budget calculator and a number of other useful features all in one place. With this much information in one, easy to use interface, Google Destinations represents a big new step for online travel agents.

Google’s new move makes it the most comprehensive online travel agent on the internet, and with its already great reputation it’s potential to reach vast numbers of potential customers world-wide is well worth investing in. Let’s break it down:

Source: www.flickr.com – Photo: Mister G.C.

1. Google knows

We all know the online stalking-power of Google, but few of us really understand the real amount and range of information that the super-search engine knows about its users and their interests. With data on past searches, past advert interactions, past web views, past keywords and much more, Google is able to connect customers with specific information tailored to their specific profile. The destinations selected, the budget, the type of hotel - it all comes down to what Google already knows about the person searching - Google selects the information to show based on what the person is interested in, and what your business offers.

Source: www.flickr.com – Photo: Prayitno

For example, if a middle-aged lady who routinely stays in 5-star hotels, travels mainly to big, economic hubs, takes interest in shopping and likes to fine-dine, typed “Vietnam destination” into Google, she would be given a list of the bigger cities in the country, classy restaurants, the country’s best hotels and resorts, where to shop, what to buy, etc. But if the same search was made by a young, budget backpacker, they would return very different results.

2. Google is the middle-man

Given the level of insight mentioned above, it is now even more important that you focus on listing your business correctly with the right target market in mind, and getting as many people as possible to review you on Google. Google is not just a big-brother, it is your middle-man. It’s the virtual agent that connects you with your potential customers. Build your Google reputation as a business with a specific market, aim and values, and watch as Google targets your customers for you.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/travel/trip-planner-google-destinations.html

3. Google is your reputation

Another element to being found on Google Destinations is rating - the more reviews you have, the better they are and the higher your rating is, the higher up on the list you will be. Since this super search engine is so well known and trusted, a quality listing and collection of reviews on the platform guarantees you a similar reputation - arguably a more valuable asset than any TripAdvisor profile.

So How Do You Get on Board?

The only way to be involved in Google Destinations is to advertise on Google. The company has made it clear that this feature is primarily a B2C based resource designed to make travel easier and more profound for its search engine users. It is not a partner-fueled or advertising service. As such, the development hinges on Google’s existing relationships with hotels, airlines and OTAs that are listed with it. So the key to maximising your impact with Google is to get on Google my Business now (it’s free), and get reviewed!

Another super important thing that all businesses should start considering is their choice of keywords. Google Destinations revolves around a number of keywords relating to location and activity, so it’s definitely a good plan to start prioritising these particular keywords in your SEO optimisation. This will give you a higher chance of being listed on the first page of web results underneath the Google Destinations section, if you scroll down, and will also affect your rank on the Destinations section itself. The keywords include “destination”, “travel”, “hiking”, “skiing”, “surfing”, “beaches” and “tourist attractions”. Google then filters results according to their interest and location. If your business is related to any specific interest, chances are there is a keyword. Test it on your phone, and invest in some specialised SEO.


10 Steps to Great Leadership

By: City Pass Guide

To paraphrase William Shakespeare’s line from Twelfth Night, some are born leaders, some achieve leadership qualities, and some have leadership thrust upon them.

One thing that great leaders all have in common however is the ability to find solutions in the time it takes others to figure out that there is a problem. This is not some kind of magic. It is purely having the knowledge that experience brings. There are though, certain traits that set leaders apart from the rest. The ability to isolate problems and the courage and confidence to act, are certainly examples. People skills of course are tremendously important.

So what are the 10 Steps to Great Leadership?

1. Leading by Example

Source: stilettosontheglassceiling.com

There can be no more demoralising thing than watching your boss do the very things that they have criticised you for in the past. It is so important to remain constant to the standards that you set others. Your workers will see that you practice what you preach and will certainly take constructive criticism more easily.

2. Empowering Staff

Source: plan-delegate-manage.com

The great advantage of being a leader is that you have others to do jobs for you that are too difficult for you to fit into your busy schedule. It is however one thing to have staff and another thing altogether letting them take the helm. As a great leader you will need the ability to trust the judgement you made when interviewing personnel in the first place.

3. Swift Decision Making

Time spent procrastinating over an issue can sometimes lead to a missed opportunity. Quite often the first solution that springs to your mind is the right one. As a leader you have to learn to trust your gut. Of course, sometimes you will make mistakes. But as experience is gained the percentage of times that you get it right will increase.

4. Remaining Accountable for Decisions

Expecting your workforce to be accountable for their actions doesn’t carry any weight unless you judge yourself by those same standards. You have to make decisions every day, and you have to stand by them. By all means allow yourself a pat on the back for a great decision, but at the same time take it on the chin when things don’t go so well.

5. Great Time Management

Source: officesuppliesblog.co.uk

This is one of the most common factors in management failures. The inability to compartmentalise one’s workload is often cited as the most common failure of business leaders. Great leaders have to learn to do this almost instinctively. Stay disorganised and your work day will seem far too short or too long. Put systems in place to manage your tasks and you will become far more productive.

6. Breaking Down the Comfort Zone

A good leader will constantly challenge their workforce to push beyond perceived limits and think outside the box. When people stop pushing, they stop growing and when that happens development comes to a stop. A good boss will keep his workers on their toes, constantly looking to improve for the betterment of themselves and the company.

7. Being Open to Offers of Help

Source: forbes.com

Nobody of course knows everything, and leaders are no exception to this. There will be times when you find yourself faced with a problem for which you can see no solution. Never be afraid to ask your staff for help. Everyone has had different life experiences and can be a useful resource when needed. Good leaders allow themselves a little humility and ask for help.

8. Correct Allocation of Talent

Really good leaders will have already recognised which particular strengths a member of the workforce has. It is then a matter of matching their skill sets to the job in hand.

9. Explaining Requirements Clearly

It is one thing you knowing what is to be done, it is another entirely getting that message across. So many people are great at what they do but not too clever when it comes to sharing that knowledge. Good leaders need to be good communicators. When you explain something to a member of your staff, make sure that you know that they know what you meant.

10. Great Leaders Are Great Teachers

Source: fierceinc.com

It is never OK to stop teaching your staff. So many times you will hear that someone is so busy they can longer spare the time to teach their staff. However teaching your staff correctly and continually will gain you time, not cost you.

For business leaders these are the things that separate them from the rest. Successful leaders do not simply arrive where they are by accident. These are the traits that make them who they are and where they are.


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