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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The business culture of a place is based on the region and not specifically on the country alone.
 
In the Latin American region of which Belize is a part, you are expected to have a light conversation at the front of your business meetings.  In the introduction, you talk about your families and you inquire about their personal life without going into specifics.  Doing this engages that feel of relationship and friendship and it paves the way to a business negotiation, something that is very important in this culture. People here interact well with each other before the business negotiation or business transaction takes place.
 
In North America, we cut to the chase and deal with the matter immediately, but it sours the relationships; the personal interactions of human beings, which is where the business transaction really comes from. In contrast, doing it like we do in Belize takes more time, but not everything that you have to offer is in a New York minute either.
 
Then there are the commonalities when doing business in Belize when you would ask if the other person would like to join your family for a barbecue afterwards or if you are heading to the beach the following weekend, you would invite them to join you. Further business interactions occur during these otherwise social times.
 
Most business relationships are born from personal relationships, so networking is really important here in Belize. It is just about manners, but more so. The manners, the politeness, and the conversational skills that surround that just show a level of respect and then you can pave the way for the business that you want to take care of.
Virginia Krohn of Villa Cayo Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Office in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe business culture here in Belize is similar to the business culture in the States. If you build a good business within a community, you will find the community does support it if they can afford it.  
 
The people of Belize are hard working people who are eager to learn.  In this culture Belizeans put family above business and jobs.  So if they need to stay home for any reason they might not show up and expect you to understand.... even if it puts your business in jeopardy.  So it's important initially to set up some basic rules like........ call or text if you are going to be late or are not coming in so as a business you can accommodate their absence.  If it happens too often you may have to replace this employee.     
 
(Office in Belize, pictured.)
Ryan Wrobel of Wrobel & Co., Attorneys-at-Law – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Adventure Co – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelize is a small country and the market is small so you tend to find a lot more monopolies in this country, which produce fewer choices for consumers.  In general, business in Belize tends to be import-driven. We don’t have a lot of manufacturing in this country so all motor vehicles are imported. The majority of the building construction supplies are imported. We produce a lot of food these days, such as chicken, rice, and fruits, but by and large, the economy is very much import-driven.
 
Doing business here in Belize tends to be more personal; one on one. You certainly would know your competitors. You perhaps know your customers. There are no huge multi-national companies in this country. No impersonal corporations. Business tends to be done at a lower level, and more at a personal level. 
 
My best advice for anyone contemplating doing business in Belize is to do your due diligence. Ask around and don’t jump into things. It’s very hard to keep secret a negative reputation in this country because it’s so small.  So investigate the market, talk to as many people as possible before you jump into bed with one person. The more you hear, the more you talk about it, you’ll find out if you are dealing with reputable people, or if they have a reputation to be less than honest.
 
(The lodge at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch  Adventure Company, close to popular tourist destinations in Belize, pictured.) 
Kate Corrigan  of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I am here at Ambergris Caye, which is so different from the rest of Belize. Ambergris Caye is so much busier and some things here are more advanced, I believe. The business culture is everybody is an entrepreneur, everybody is a globetrotter and everybody is starting new things. As I was just walking into town, I saw that there’s a new scooter rental company going up, which is great. We don't have one here on the island and someone saw the opportunity, managed to import those scooters, bought the license and they'll be renting out scooters.
 
There are lots of businesses that need taking over and a bit of TLC to bring them up.  There are lots of restaurants, so if you are a restaurateur, it may not be the best idea to try to set up a new one, but perhaps to renovate an old one.
 
The business culture here is hard working.  People also looking for that bargain, for example, to buy a condo until somebody decided the lease wasn't for them, very cheaply. It's mostly retirees, or young entrepreneurs who come here.
 
There is no mañana culture here like there is in other Latin American countries. Everybody works very hard within their working hours, depending on their roles.  If they have an administrative role and the business opens at eight, they’re there at eight.  If they have an hour lunch, they will take it. The local people are very conscientious, very hard working. I've never actually been amongst a harder working group of people.
 
You do have to find ways in working effectively with laborers.  For example, you don’t pay them by the hour; you pay them by the work that they do, and even still, sometimes that is tricky. You do have to be on top making sure that they do come.
 
If it rains, everybody is going to be late for work. It's because where they have to come from. They have a very good work ethic here.  People do work hard. The culture is very entrepreneurial.
 
Locals will try and refer you to go to do something, as part of a payback system. The local person refers to someone at the dive shop or the restaurant owner, who may well give the referrer something for doing so. It's a bit of "I'll scratch your back, you'll scratch mine." There’s a bit of a barter system as well going on.
 
None of this is to say that the business culture is nasty.  As a point of contrast, I recently went to Mexico and I just felt harassed. The hustlers were really hustling and shouting out "Come in, come in!”, “What, you don’t like me?”, and so forth, and trying to make me feel really bad.  I am very English, so that sort of thing doesn't fly with me at all; I just get nervous and walk quicker.
 
This is in contrast to here in Belize, where you do get the vendors and people trying to take you somewhere or do something for you or sell you something, but its done so very nicely in a laid-back Caribbean way. Rather than getting insistent, they will say “Alright then, no worries."
 
If you were to set up a business where there was an office mentality such as a dentist or doctor’s office, everybody will be there on time, they work their hardest whilst they’re there, they always go on time and arrive on time there, but you don't get much extra. 
Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The economy in Belize is growing, and the business culture can be described as “hungry.” People are bringing down nice boats, nice cars, and they are building beautiful homes. There’s hunger for the vast majority of Belizeans who want to grow into middle class, so if you have an opportunity to bring business opportunities, Belize is a very good market.
 
If you want to do business in Belize, you should find a very good law firm. There is Courtenay Coye LLP, and a number of other law firms.  Just make sure that you get the proper legal counsel and to keep any ruling families or internal disputes at bay, just like what you will do anywhere.
 
Typically, four families run the country of Belize. For example, one family controls all Coca Cola products, bottling, and beer. Another may control pretty much all the citrus and the bananas. Basically, these families have large, monopolistic control over different parts of the businesses in of Belize.
 
However, you don’t need to be blessed by these families in order to start a business. Your business success here depends on who you are and how much value you create.
 

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