Nobody is ever going to claim there is no risk involved in moving into Asian markets and having to change how you do business there. Some companies understand this and some companies don’t.

The first thing I do before any consulting work starts with a prospective client is ask two simple questions:

  1. Are you prepared to act locally in Asia?
  1. Are you prepared to understand that you are going to encounter local conditions unlike the ones you are currently accustomed to?

If it appears that the client is not answering in the affirmative to either of these questions, I have to pause and tell them that before we start any work together, they must get their head around the idea they will need to change their mindset.

It is important to note that while it is imperative that there is a shift in thinking and behaviour when breaking into Asian markets, it does not mean the way you do things back in your home country is wrong. It could be actually be quite to the contrary. You need to set up a business plan which incorporates the different strategies and actions that need to be implemented in Asian markets.

You do not have to start completely from square one with your business set up and philosophy when entering Asian markets. There are likely to be business methods or tactics that you want to introduce locally in Asia that will work with some adaption. However you cannot decide this before understanding the market you are entering.

On the flip side if an Asian company is looking to do business in Australia, I would give them the same advice. They must understand the Australian market and learn how business is done in Australia if they are going to be successful. From my experience, most Asian businesses who have set up in Australia have made this transition very successfully. In short they understand the mindset and behavioural change they must adopt to be successful.

It is sometimes hard to tell companies who have hired me that their current line of thinking is not going to work and will only result in wasted effort. However unless they are open and willing to shift their mindset their Asian market ventures are very likely to be doomed before they even start.

It is easy to say “I am ready to change” but truly being ready is difficult business proposition. I often come across the situation where a company is already doing business in one Asian market and is looking to expand into other Asian markets. Since the company successfully adapted their business practices in one Asian country, they may fall into the trap of forgetting each Asian country and its way of doing things are different. They need to understand the different nuisances in each Asian market.

To be successful it is critical to have the right mindset and someone on your team who understands the different conditions and nuisances of the individual Asian markets.