In this series I have previously discussed marketing studies, fears, corporate structures, licensing, operations, tax considerations and local set up matters in thrusting your business into the Far East. The geography of where you may establish will depend on a number of things and I have also considered these.
One of the most overlooked aspects, which are critical to your success, is how you operate within the culture of your chosen location. Culture of Government and formalities required is a start and everywhere you go there will be different things you need to understand to operate successfully. In many cases requirements and necessities will appear not to make sense because they vary widely from those in the western world. Remember that in many countries a great deal of business formalities are still achieved manually. Whilst the digital age is very much alive many old traditions remain intact. The processes are often achieved in an old-fashioned way and then records updated on computer systems.
That licence, which is a mere formality, is refused and you are totally flummoxed about why. Is it just a delay because actually the official was upset at your behaviour? This happens everyday and leaves disappointed business owners scratching their heads. But if you understand a little about the local culture, things will actually be achieved much quicker than if you try to follow western ways. Many Asian people do not show any displeasure but instead smile making you think all is well when actually it is not.
Similarly, with the business community you circulate in and the other business people you deal with. If they decide to befriend and help you this can be counted as a significant help. But if they are upset with you for any one of a multiple number of reasons then you may find that unexplainable setbacks crop up. Paying attention to small cultural matters can gain their favour. Learn a few words of their language and if you can greet them, they will appreciate the fact that you have taken an interest and tried. Always be polite and smile whenever you can.
In this respect your potential local partners are critical to the success of your business and a little understanding of their culture will help you a great deal. Introductions to the right connections will also be particularly important. Accepting business practices can also be a nightmare for some business owners who vehemently disagree with the way things are done. But if you are not prepared to toe the line it may be best that you seriously consider whether this is the right thing for you. Perhaps you disagree in principle with certain business practices but if you realise that these are necessary and simply comply, your business success will be richer, faster and greater.
Local British Chambers of Commerce can be helpful and give you good overall insights into business practices in their specific country. They are also very helpful when it comes to overall perspectives and political cooperation, giving you a comprehensive top down view of the overall economic and political situation.
If you would like an exploratory chat about this, please contact me. Andrew Wood, Kaywood Ltd.