I mentioned in my last post that time flies. I had a longer period of time in mind then. Today features a substantially shorter passage of time. The weeks, perhaps months (two or three at most) before I relocate to Mexico. I have also in recent months posted about my impending return. Pondering business opportunities and the bureaucracy I will face, both getting to Mexico and once I am there. And indeed a spanner is being thrown in the works. Mexico is revamping its immigration laws. The key factor in the new laws, from my perspective, is that I may not be able to convert a tourist visa into a working visa in Mexico.
I can’t even begin to describe how many articles, forums and websites I’ve trawled through for information. I find myself more confused today than I did at the beginning. The new rules will take effect in just a week or two, apparently. Yet, this is Mexico. So they may not. To try and ease the confusion, we phoned the Mexican Embassy in London, to speak to someone who deals with visas all day long. Surely he wouldn’t be as confused as I. He wasn’t. That’s the joy of ignorance. He was of no help whatever, seemingly oblivious to the pending changes.
But I will get to Mexico. And once my visa has been sorted, the next big item on the agenda must be dealt with. Earning a living. The idea of opening a little English tea shop still appeals to me. We could serve English breakfasts in the morning and for lunch. Followed by cream teas into the afternoon. Then it’s ‘Pimms O’Clock’. With strawberries and cream. But this all requires investment. So this is most definitely a longer term ambition. To start with it will be back to teaching English. But with a perhaps more lucrative approach than last time.
Employing teachers to fulfil contracts I’ve signed to provide classes to business guys and gals in DF is the obvious money spinner, and the first avenue I will go down. Once I have managed to fill my own schedule with classes, anyway. There are other related avenues to go down, of course. For the purposes of my exercise, they need to require minimal (or preferably no) financial investment. The start up costs need to be my time and effort. And charm. The first two are no problem. I’ll need to work on the third.
English exercise books in the Business English industry. Let me tell you how that tends to work in Mexico City – and probably elsewhere. A teacher will buy one copy at an extortionate price. Then go to a copy shop and have however many copies he or she needs printed off and bound up. For about a tenth the price of the original. The books come with CD’s which are quickly lost or damaged – and the classroom won’t always have a CD player in it anyway. The books themselves range from excellent to poor, as you might imagine. Most teachers have a favourite couple of books that they use over and over again.
I’ve long thought I could produce better books* and deliver them, and their audio, in a more flexible, cost effective and student friendly manner. What’s so hard about putting a whole language laboratory onto a single website and making it available, at very low cost, to transfer those materials to a thumb drive the size of a cigarette butt? From where the written materials can be printed easily at a copy shop, and the audio materials played easily on any iPod or similar device. It’s not hard. Some companies/people have had a stab at it. But none have quite got it right. And none of them seem intent on trying to provide supplementary content to teach more specific vocabulary according to different industries. (*even if this simply means sifting through multiple published books, lifting the best bits and discarding the chaff to produce a more rounded publication).
Doing this would be mighty time consuming, no doubts about it. It would be worthy of that time investment though. I also have an end goal in mind too. Going ‘open source’ and giving it all away for free. Wikipedia style. Allow other teachers to add content and contribute sections. Grow the site through numbers. If that came to pass, I suspect the web address itself will be popular enough to generate an income. Adding other features and revenue streams should be perfectly possible.
At which point, of course, other factors will come into play. For example, once unknown third parties are involved, are they going to contribute content that I could be liable for down the road? Do I really want to be sued by a Mexican doctor who has gotten a job at a prestigious US hospital, only to operate on the wrong leg of a patient, just because my materials taught his that ‘derecho’ meant ‘left’? It seems unlikely, but perhaps it would be best if I looked into a professional indemnity insurance policy.
These plans are still some way off, it has to be said. I still have the visa hurdle to jump yet. But I am optimistic regards Mexico’s future, and my own future within the country. The economy may have taken a severe battering in 2008 and 2009, but it’s most definitely on the up at the moment. Sure that are issues and tough times ahead. But the country has a ton of resources, and there is a poverty advantage - growth is easier to achieve when you have an abundant supply of low paid workers and losses less likely when you don’t have an awful lot to lose. This is a kinda selfish take. But it’s not necessarily inaccurate. News stations are full of gloom and doom. But tell me something new. How’s life on the street? Difficult in places, I’m sure. But I suspect a fair chunk of entrepreneurs are still optimistic. More so in Mexico than Greece though, one suspects!