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).
Read Related Articles In Business Review Australia
- Harnessing the Asian Century
- Top 10 Asian Destinations for Business Opportunities
- Top 10 Tips on How to Build Contacts in China
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.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.