Startup Advice – What to Know When Doing Business in China?

If you are an Australia small business owner and want to start conducting deals in China, then you are not alone. Many companies are performing business transactions overseas because of the various benefits available, such as a dynamic economy and an abundance of skilled and motivated workers.


But before you make the transition, you need to do some research so that you can avoid common mistakes and get the most out of your venture. Otherwise, you will likely experience setbacks and challenges that would have been avoidable. These unforeseen problems can impact your business in a negative way, and you could even fail as a result.


Plan a Trip


Most Chinese businesses are trustworthy and dependable, but not all companies are transparent. Before you sign any contracts or place any large orders in China, you need to plan a flight and visit each location that is relevant to your business. If you intend to order bulk materials from a factory, you need to inspect it so that you can verify its legitimacy.


If you are planning to open a shop, then you must visit the town in which it will be located to determine the health of the local market. You will also need to interview any candidates who will hold top management positions. Interacting with people in person makes it easier to determine their reliability and to verify their credentials.


Getting a Business Partner


If possible, you want to have a business partner in China to monitor your daily operations. No matter how efficient you are, managing a business across borders can be difficult. But having a trusted individual on the ground can make it much easier. Your business partner will be able to respond to problems quickly so that any issues can be resolved before they escalate.


If you don’t have a business partner, then it’s vital you find someone you trust and invite them to fill that role. Ideally, anyone you trust to manage your overseas business will be knowledgeable in Asia markets and speak both English and Chinese fluently.


Learn Relevant Trades


No matter your current skill level, it’s vital you take the time to learn about the skills and abilities of any company or factory with which you plan to work. You want to visit these locations on occasion, and it’s vital you have the capacity to determine whether their operations are being performed correctly and efficiently.


You can learn the relevant information on the Internet, but you must also understand the pros and cons of learning online. For example, you can acquire any information you might need. On the other hand, learning online limits your ability to communicate with teachers and other students.


Learn the Customs


When working in China, many Australian startups make the mistake of conducting business as they would in their home country, which is an error that could cause them to lose business deals. Chinese culture tends to be conservative and reserved, so if you are blunt in your dealings, you could make your Chinese partners feel uncomfortable.


You must be aware of subtle differences in communication styles and avoid putting anyone on the spot. Building relationships with Chinese businesses will take time and effort, and they might need a chance to discuss any possible contracts in private before coming to a decision. However, they will likely warm up and start to trust you over time, enabling a mutually beneficial partnership.


Learn the Values


Unknowingly offending someone is one of the fastest ways to ruin a business deal. When doing business overseas, it’s vital you learn the local religious and social customs so that you can avoid placing yourself in an awkward situation. You will often be required to attend several meetings and social events before a business will make a final decision on whether to work with you.


Knowing the values held by the business leaders of these organizations will enhance your odds of success. For example, you must always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. If you are given chopsticks during a meal, never place them directly in your food bowl; this is seen as a sign of anger and aggression.


Rather than cold drinks, you can expect a warm cup of tea to go along with your meal. The Chinese consider fruit juice to be a dessert, which is served after the main course.


Final Thoughts


The Chinese market has many benefits to offer any Australian business, and it will grant you access to additional technology and resources that would otherwise be unavailable. Although it might take some time to adjust to the new culture, research and an open mind will simplify the process.


No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will likely make a few cultural and social mistakes in the beginning. However, remaining respectful and politely apologizing for any offense will go a long way in maintaining healthy business relationships.

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