Is Asia the Place to Open a Small Business?
Written by Angie Mansfield
If you're looking to expand your business into the global market, Asia makes an excellent first move.
Asian economies have remained stronger through the world financial crisis than those of other countries, and their marketplace continues to grow.
That said, some parts of Asia are more foreign business-friendly than others, and there are other factors to consider before making such a big move >>>
Determine the Market for Your Product in Asia
You don't want to spend the time and money to move operations to Asia...only to find that there's no demand for your product there. Do a little research first; check with trade development agencies in your area (or on the national level) to help you check out market trends.
Your product may also have to be tweaked a bit to fit a foreign market, and the legal standards there. A good place to start your research is the Australian Trade Commission (or corresponding export/trade department in your country).
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Thoroughly Check the Country's Regulations
Thailand will happily bury you in paperwork, and requires that you have a Thai business partner, since foreigners are only allowed to own 49 percent of a business in that country. Hong Kong and Shanghai have robust marketplaces, but the Chinese government's heavy-handed censorship and regulations on business may be too much to bear.
These are just a couple of examples of trouble you can run into if you don't properly research the regulations of the country you're considering expanding into. Find out what product standards you'll be required to meet, what sort of government inspection/regulation you can expect, and other important factors before making the move.
Visit the Country and Learn About Its Culture
Understanding a country's culture is an important step toward successfully marketing a product or service there. You can do a lot of research online to learn the country's history, etiquette, and political climate -- but no amount of research beats actually visiting the country for learning how its people tick.
Start Your Search with These Cities
All that said, here are a few cities you should consider for your Asian expansion >>>
- Singapore City (Singapore). With excellent infrastructure, a highly-educated and English-speaking workforce, and status as a prominent shipping port, Singapore City earns its spot on this list. It does have more expensive living expenses than others on the list, however, and you'll want to be well-schooled on their business restrictions.
- Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Another city with a robust infrastructure, Kuala Lumpur also has a large English-speaking, educated workforce. Cost of living and cost of retail space are both very low, and the Malaysian government is very welcoming and helpful to foreign businesses.
- Cebu City (Philippines). Easy visa requirements, cheap retail space, and a growing English-speaking population make Cebu City a great contender for business expansion.
Expanding or moving your business operations to Asia is a decision not to be taken lightly, but with plenty of research, you can minimize your risk and increase your chances of success.
About the Author
Angie Mansfield writes about small business topics and business owners such as Steve Wynn.
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