Asia is home to several cities that are ripe for business expansion. Infrastructure, the existence of startup accelerators, government regulations designed to encourage growth, opportunities, and talent make these cities ideal for western businesses to start or grow their operations.

Still, it’s not as simple as moving in and opening up shop. There are a lot of things budding entrepreneurs should consider ranging from the cultural to the legal.

1. Be Wary of The Draw of Larger Markets in Asia

Mention Asian expansion, and many minds go to China, India, and Japan. These are large markets, and commerce in these places is booming. These are also notoriously tough markets where many companies struggle to find their place. For one thing, without significant resources, it can be nearly impossible to create a noticeable presence.

It’s not that these are unsuitable markets for conquest. Quite the opposite, there are so many businesses that want to expand into these places that it takes a significant amount of time and resources just to survive there, let alone thrive.

If you have your sites set on one of the big three nations in Asia, your best bet is to make that your sole focus. The likelihood of your expansion succeeding there as you also attempt to gain ground in other Asian countries is fairly low.

Also read: Why are so many Chinese companies expanding to Southeast Asia?

2. You Will Need Help Navigating The Talent Pool

There’s a notion that businesses can move into Asian markets, and they will have immediate access to technically astute talent pools. The reality is much more complex than that. For one thing, the hiring process in nations like China is quite involved. Many companies find that they cannot navigate it without the assistance of  employment services firms  that assist with finding staff and help remain compliant with the local labour laws

Then there are nations like India that boasts wide numbers of IT professionals. Unfortunately, upon closer look many are not truly prepared for the rigors of work in the IT sector. In fact, many Indian job seekers themselves express doubt about their readiness for office work.

3. You Must Understand Regulations Before Making a Move

One challenge that nearly every business moving into Asian markets face relate to regulations. It is imperative to understand what is required of you to operate in the cities to which you are expanding. Some nations have more intense regulations than others. Here are a few that are worth noting.

While intermediary liability isn’t a concept that only exists in Asian nations, the concept is often applied much more strictly than in the west. Know that if a third party commits illegal acts on a platform that you own, you could be held accountable. In fact, several  years ago a webmaster in Thailand received a suspended jail sentence for remarks another individual made about the royal family.

There’s also the issue of ownership. If you move into Thailand, you’ll need to have local business contacts as businesses there must have at least a 51% local ownership share. On the other hand, China as well as Chinese-centered  nations such as Singapore and Hong Kong have regulatory structures that are much easier for western nations to navigate. These regulations are often easier to understand with enforcement being quite a bit less stringent.

4. It is Important to Know The Business And Social Culture Before Making a Move

First, it’s important to remember that Asia is an expansive area, and countries don’t walk in lockstep when it comes to business and social culture. It’s important to learn about the specific areas you are considering. Whether it’s entertaining clients in a restaurant or conducting a business meeting, there are certain nuances that you have to make an effort to understand.

In addition to culture, there’s also the political climate to consider in various nations. For example, in China you have to navigate your marketing efforts around the fact that government has restricted a large number of social media sites. There are also topics that may be taboo or even legal to broach.

Cultural understanding should be a driving factor in many of the decisions that you make. Marketing, product localisation, customer relations, etc. are all efforts that will be more successful if you know the traditions involved.

Also read: 5 signs that you need to localise your product

There are many excellent reasons to expand into Asia. The businesses that have done so successfully have one thing in common. They have done the research required to operate successfully when it comes to regulations, infrastructure, and culture.


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