Relationships matter, people matter in doing business with Asians

A critical piece in the missing puzzle while doing business with Indians or Chinese people is cultural understanding.

Relationship matters in building trust and only when there is trust will the Asians do business with Australians. Yet how often do we hear Australian business leaders say – ‘let’s cut to the chase’. Impatience can often blow a great business opportunity out of the window in seconds.

The layers of hierarchy are a ground reality in these countries. Decisions are made slowly on both ends, with detailed thought given to long-term outcomes or impact on current relationships. Asians need time to build a relationship before they commence business. Coupled with the hierarchy of approvals, it can indeed be a very frustrating pace for the Australians embarking on an Asian strategy.

While hierarchy may represent bureaucracy to the West, to the Asian cultures they also represent respect for age and experience. This has interesting implications, especially when we are looking at financial services where an Asian may prefer to deal with somebody who’s a little older and may have more experience and knowledge of the industry.

The balance between talent and experience is very much nurtured and appreciated in Asia, while we may still be struggling to find that balance in the West.

Just as hierarchy frustrates Australian businesses, Asians are equally frustrated with Australian businesses who have very little appetite for risk. The tried and tested route is the best route followed by the majority of businesses. How many times have we heard of that famous expression – best practices? How do you explain best practices in the context of innovation, change and disruptive technology?

Incorporating an international strategy is a must for Australia’s survival. An Asian strategy for international collaborations and partnerships cannot be ignored anymore. Where else will we find the crucial mass for doing business but in Asia? Where else will we find scalability for our great product ideas?

Written by Sheba Nandkeolyar

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