How to Start Your Business in Saigon

by Oct 25, 2021Start your business

How to Start Your Business in Saigon

by Oct 25, 2021Start your business

Answering Paul, an entrepreneur in Saigon at the beginning of his journey

Paul contacted me via email to ask about how to start his business in Saigon. He is looking for my insiders perspective as I live in Saigon and I have built my businesses there. His question is mostly to learn where to start and how to get started.

How to Start Your Business in Saigon Nicolas thanh-min

Paul is at the beginning of his project; where he’s got an idea, some intuitions, but doesn’t know if he should start finding partners, clients, make a logo or pay a lawyer for the creation of his structure.

So in today’s article, I’m going to put myself in Paul’s shoes with my perspective and my experience and try to guide him on how to get started as an entrepreneur in Saigon!

Connect with the right people!

How to find the right people to connect with?

By messaging me, Paul is already creating opportunities for himself. I might not be able to answer all his questions and give him all the help he needs, but at least he is reaching out and creating a possibility.

When you are building a project, it’s crucial to surround yourself with people who are either doing three of these things: give you advice, support your project or buy your solution.

In order to find these people, no need to ask the top executive or your market or go to every networking events in town.

Open your contact list on all your social medias, your phone numbers, etc. And start scrolling down your friends list.

I would recommend to start going down your friends list and start identifying the few people that could become very helpful for your project. To these people it could be a great idea to connect with:

Knowledgeable people; the ones who know something you don’t or someone who can help.

They have experience or connections. Tell them you are building this project and are looking for advice, resources, their opinion, etc. Chances are they could geniunely be helpful and interested in your project.

Asking a question cost nothing. Knowledge is free to share because even after sharing all you know, you are still in possession of all your knowledge.

Supporters; you will need them along your journey.

Find these few friends that are going to become your support group. Prof. Jordan Peterson has a great way to put it:

Here is how to identify them:

  • If you have a bad news, they are the ones who will listen. They won’t try to advice or compare or blame you or try to cheer you up with their own story. They will listen to you.
  • If you have a good news, they will help you celebrate!

Leads; in your contact list there are surely a lot of potential leads.

People you connect with up until you get their phone number or Facebook (or Zalo in Vietnam) are people you have a chance to have something in common with. Maybe they could become potential customers…

So, from your contact list only, you already have 3 essential type of people who will help you create opportunities now.

Network and pitch your idea!

Should you tell your idea or not?


Yes, I know it sounds really counter intuitive at first. Especially if you are getting started and you could be affraid someone is going to steal your idea.

But here are few reasons why you should tell your idea to others:

There is a big difference between having an idea and transforming it into a successful business. For example, if I tell you I want to build a business school for entrepreneurs.

For 100 people I’ll be sharing this idea with, I’ll get a 100 different pictures of how it should look like. And chances are, if one of them “steal” my idea and build his school, he will create one that is totally different and unique.

Also, there is one thing I’ve realized over the years is that by sharing your idea you have much more chances to turn this person into one of the 3 type of people above than a future competitor or ennemy. You don’t have to share all the details of your project, but you should learn to pitch the bare minimum.

Finally, your idea will evolve and what it will really become depends on so many things. At the beginning, my hostel was a shared house for students. It’s by talking to others around me that it transformed into a hostel. And it’s by talking to these people that eventually this hostel became popular.

Talk to people at least for this reason:

You are not sure of anything. And your project is never going to be perfect from your perspective. But by talking to people about your idea, you will practice introducing yourself and your business. And by seeing their reactions, you will learn a lot about “how you sound”…

If there is one thing that is very hard is to introduce yourself… Usually you do more than one thing and it’s hard to know what to say… Should you talk about all these future projects you are already working on? Or introduce some personal details?

The more you practice, the more you learn what to tell people when you meet them for the first time.

For this, try the “elevator pitch” technique by answering three questions in one sentence:

  • who do you help
  • what problem are you solving
  • how do you make people’s life better

For me that looks like something like this:

“I help entrepreneurs to better understand their business so they can make smarter decisions.”

How to create yourself opportunities

Paul in his email is already trying to network and seek advice on Facebook groups for entrepreneurs and reaching out to people like me to get started.

And I believe this is one good way to get started but a great mindset to keep all along your entrepreneur’s journey:

  • Be open-minded about what others can teach you. Not everybody gives good advice but if you don’t ask them the right questions, there is no chance you get any advice.
  • Be realistic; you are at the beginning of your project. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Tomorrow you’ll have made your first sale and you’ll be at the beginning of another step. And so one.
  • And lastly, test your idea asap! That is what I was already advising in my other article on how launch your idea in 30 days.

Ask me anything!

I hope these first advice helped! I haven’t really talk about how practically Paul should start. Like which laywer in Saigon to talk to… And this is on purpose; because everyone will do things their own way and only Paul can decide what to do next. I could give a list of contacts, but tomorrow they’ll be obsolete probably and I wish to give long term advice.

But I’m sure of one thing:

If he connects with the right people, if he keeps pitching his ideas and having this can-do attitude he has when messaging me, then he’ll find the right answers to his questions moving forward.

Saigon is a big city but a small village at the same time. It’s very important to connect with people and to have a great network here. Being recommended by a friend to a professional, here in Saigon, has much more value than being a random client. People usually have different pricelists and thanks to the great connections you make, you may end up saving a lot of money or create yourself some extraordinary opportunities!

I am grateful for the people who helped me at the beginning of my journey and today, and I am happy to be able to give back to other entrepreneurs who ask me questions today :). We always learn something.

For anyone reading this: having any question, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have on entrepreneurship, about Vietnam or anything you many need.

Thank you for reading until the end!

Every morning, after my meditation 🧘🏽and my breakfast ☕️, I sit at my desk for one hour and write answers to my own questions, as an entrepreneur ✍️. Then I publish it on this blog, hoping to help other entrepreneurs to find answers to their questions too. And this, no matter your “level”.

To participate, ask me questions on social medias @nicolasthanhg (click on the icons below). I may answer directly or write an article about it.

Now, you can also go back to the blog page and search for articles related to your scope of interest. 🔍

Have a good day,
Nicolas Thành