How to Prepare Your Company for Expansion to the Far East

Are you interested in taking advantage of the world’s fastest growing economy in China or another Chinese-speaking culture in the Far East? With 1.2 billion people to market to and do business with, only a right blinkered fool of an entrepreneur would avoid expanding their business into this fast-growing population.

In China, the middle class is getting wealthier by the day, and modern Chinese are far less frugal than their penny-wise traditional parents and grandparents. Many of the younger generations in the Far East are quick to grasp onto anything western, and will embrace your products and services with open arms if you prepare yourself in advance.

Meeting with Chinese businessman

Here are 5 tips for preparing to make your move into Far East markets:

1. Research the markets

Head to your local Chamber of Commerce and research UKTI for individual markets located within China or the Chinese-speaking country you’re considering to do business in. Consider that many cities in such as Shanghai in China, or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia are fast becoming more westernized than they are eager to hang onto tradition.

Others, such as Taiwan or Tibet may have western conveniences, but still maintain traditional cultural values and preferences. Understanding what Chinese market your products will sell best in has to be the first step in any successful business venture into a foreign market.

2. Embrace the culture and learn the language

The easiest way to fit in with a foreign culture is to embrace that culture with full gusto. There are many cultural norms you’ll want to become familiar with from social graces; to learning just how much is the right amount of personal space to give someone; to this culture’s honest and matter-of-fact mannerisms when speaking to others.

Chinese and Mandarin societies are very different from the very diverse culture that exists here in Great Britain. Not having any knowledge of the culture and a basic understanding of the language can lead to very ‘avoidable’ misunderstandings, which can hurt business relations considerably.

3. Seek early partnerships with locals (starting where you live)

The UK has nearly 100,000 Chinese students, offering British business owners looking to expand into the Far East a bridge into the very different culture that exists in their homeland.

Befriend these students, ask them questions, offer them an internship, and they may well become the best investment you make toward cementing your latest business venture abroad. They can also make for easier inroads to China’s premiere and exclusive social networks such as Weibo and WeChat; offering access to billions of Far Eastern consumers.

Working with Asian businessman

4. Arrogance won’t serve UK entrepreneurs when doing business in China

China and other parts of the Far East are very much an “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” sort of place to do business. Doing corporate training geared toward learning the Chinese (and Far East) culture and aligning yourself with locals is a great step in the right direction.

Please bear in mind that what works here in the UK, Europe or North America can’t guarantee you a sure-fire success in the Far East.

UK business owners expanding into the east will most surely need to tweak their products and services to satisfy the needs of their customers. China and other countries in the east are fast-changing, with the middle class dominating the market and youth becoming more westernized by the day.

5. Understand the role of ‘guanxi’ in Chinese culture

Guanxi is the foundation of how business is done in Chinese culture. Essentially, it’s the act of building strong mutually-beneficial relationships for business success. One-off favours amongst contacts doesn’t wash here – once a relationship has started, there’s an expectation that it will continue indefinitely.

Amongst the contacts you’ll likely want to make and maintain are with Chinese politicians such as mayors in the locales you plan to do business in. They often have a lot of sway and can make things happen for you when dicey situations erupt. The great news is that many in China and other Far East destinations are pleased to see UK businesses expanding to their country and will be far more welcoming to you, than for instance, Russia or Korea would.

The Far East is calling!

Are you and your business ready for the challenge?