updated - October 16, 2021 Saturday EDT
If the whole Brexit drama and the leaving Europe fiasco has gotten you down, then maybe you've begun to look elsewhere to locate your business startup? One possibility to capture the fastest growing economy in the world (and the still the biggest), is to start a business in China.
China, you say...? Interesting.
But how do you go about starting a company there? And can you get any help with it or are you completely on your own?
For UK visionaries willing to give it a try, here is some basic information about getting a new business going in China.
China is so huge that you won't necessarily be doing business through the country. Instead, you might simply choose to sell in a major city hub and build out from there. When starting a business in China, picking the location is first on the agenda. You'll find that Shanghai has a Free Trade Zone, which makes it easier and less expensive for foreign companies to get established. The level of administration required is less in this city than elsewhere in the country too. Also, office rentals are frequently available, and the quality level is superior with newer builds and improved building maintenance compared to smaller cities enjoying less capital investment.
Trying to do it all yourself as both a foreigner and an outsider is like trying to climb Mount Everest without previous climbing experience or carrying the right gear. It'll be an uphill struggle all the way with many unexpected pitfalls.
What you need is a navigator.
A PEO is a Professional Employment Organization that handles many of the initial administrative requirements. A good example is New Horizons if you're considering starting a business in China. They can also act as a co-employer (as the sole employer when as an Employer of Record) to take on employees quickly to get moving faster.
This allows you to avoid getting stuck dealing with confusing paperwork, hurdles, and numerous delays. A PEO assists you in getting the business started much quicker and with fewer obstacles. It makes it far more viable for a UK businessperson who has never done business in China before, let alone established a company there.
Bringing staff over from the UK to work in China is a bad idea. While this can be done with certain managerial level executives, if all the staff are from a foreign country, then no one will know how business is done in China.
Instead, work with an employment agency that has a roster of talented people with the experience required to be successful in their positions. Despite the reality that over a billion people live in China, the demand for the best workers is fierce. Companies must offer a salary package that reflects the potential employee's worth.
Appreciating the Cultural Differences
The cultural differences don't just apply to China as a whole. It might surprise you to learn that there are different cultures applicable to individual cities. As such, people know through the behavior, mannerisms, accents, and many other cues when someone is a native of Shanghai or from elsewhere in the country.
When marketing products to businesses or people living in that city, local employees will often be able to provide useful insights into what products work (or don't work) there. Marketing approaches can also similarly benefit greatly from this local knowledge. Therefore, pulling in executives from other cities within China is not always a great idea either. The degree of difference city to city is far greater than what is noticeable with different cities within the UK.
Chinese citizens are heavy internet users despite the occasional restriction on access to certain websites or apps. They have local alternatives that are just as busy as Google or YouTube, for instance, and their IT approach is often state-of-the-art.
Look at local competitors in your chosen target market. See what products and services they have available. Consider how they market those to other businesses or consumers, and in what way they choose to do so. Most sectors are fast-moving, adaptable, and creative. Be prepared.
Consumers in China are equally demanding of high-quality and value for money. As a country with a higher savings rate than in the West, consumers must be sold on the value a product or service. Therefore, any new business must be prepared to work harder to market effectively, develop a following, and to grow over time.
For UK business people who feel that they have the internal fortitude and ambition to succeed in the largest market, then starting up in China is a must-do. Overnight success isn't promised, but when you love expansion, it's the largest business playground of all. The only question is, can you handle it?
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