Understanding culture is very important when doing business, especially when you're the one taking the first step. This is especially true in a place like Japan, which has a very distinctive culture and way of doing business. Not understanding the nuances of the local business culture could cost you opportunities. You also want to understand local codes and the difference in communication styles before working with Japanese clients and investors. It's also very important that you know the legal hurdles you have to jump over in order to get your business off the ground if you plan on founding one there.
Here a few essential tips for doing business in Japan.
Starting a Business
You will have to be prepared for a lot of paperwork and to jump through many hoops before starting a business in Japan as a foreigner. Bureaucracy is much heavier than stateside. As an organization, you will have to work with the district and local tax office, the Ward office, the Labor Standards Inspection Office, the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, the Public Employment Security Office, and the Japan Pension Service before you can even get started, so be ready for that.
You will also have to be ready to deal with a lot of red-tape when trying to build anything in Japan. Procedures will take 193 days on average, and you will again have to deal with all sorts of agencies. Even getting things like electricity can take months, so you will need to arrange for that in advance and make sure that you have the proper documentation.
Getting Familiar with Local Markets and Business Culture
You should also make sure that you get familiar with the local business climate and what's happening with the country's economy. This is why we would suggest that you spend a good amount of time monitoring business news in the country. Check out the stock prices of Japanese companies and get as much information as you can about the country's debt, GDP growth, currency value, interest rates, and other economic data.
Next, you have to make sure that you understand the business culture and etiquette before you get there. One of the most important things is understanding that business people in Japan are not all about business like many western countries. They want to get to know the person first before they do business with them, and even if you could be profitable to them, they will prefer to work with someone they like.
Another trait you will have to develop right now is patience. Japanese business people do not like being rushed into decisions, and too much insistence will make them distrustful. Let things develop naturally, and don't get mad if you're on your 5th business dinner and haven't struck a deal yet.
As you can see, doing business in Japan can be challenging, but equally, there are many rewards to trading in this exciting marketplace. If trading in Japan appeals, seek expert advice before you take the leap.