Visiting China: what’s the best way?
Planning a business trip to China can be daunting if it’s your first time. That’s why we’re looking at the pros and cons of the options available to businesspeople drawn by the host of opportunities that Australia’s largest trading partner has to offer.
If you’re an entrepreneur or run a company that is drawn to the opportunities in one of the world’s largest economies, then getting your foot in the Chinese door can be something of a challenge. Barriers to entering the Chinese market include language and culture as well as the vast size of the country. Fortunately, there are several established entry points that offer varying degrees of support. Read on to find out exactly what they are and what you need to consider for your business.
Trade missions are usually quite big affairs that include large numbers of big players and include visits to local officials, whose cooperation and good will are essential to do doing business in China. Such missions are valuable and usually suit companies that need the benefit of both Australian and local government leverage.
Because they are something of a touring show, you need to be very focused on your strategy as it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the grandeur of the event and participants. With this kind of large production, you can easily be left in the crowd so it’s important to ensure you identify exactly what you want from it, who specifically you need to meet and how your business will benefit. Trade mission organisers have a lot going on en route and won’t necessarily have time to pay attention to your particular needs.
More tailored to the small business operator, trade fairs are great as research tools. You’ll see heaps of amazing products and meet masses of people in full sales mode. It’s highly probable you’ll feel all lost in the supermarket, so it’s crucial to figure out what you want from a fair before going.
There are two types of people you will meet at trade fairs: the government officials who support the events and exhibitors. They’ll be a combination of state owned and private companies as well as trading companies.
Think about which type of exhibitor will best benefit your business and definitely do as much due diligence as you can prior to your trip. It always pays to contact company representatives before you go so that you can arrange a time to meet them.
A word of advice: save shopping spree urges for the retail sector; you don’t want to arrive home and start receiving stuff you don’t even remember ordering. That won’t be the fun of the fair.
Friends and business
Everyone probably has a friend or acquaintance that lives, or has done, in China. It’s great that these people are enthusiastic and full of ideas about doing business there and this good vibe can be infectious.
If you’re prone to a friend’s business plan, then cool right down, take some time and think it through very carefully.
If you decide to go ahead, make sure that you’re both on the same page about what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve.
If it’s a joint venture you’re thinking of then a partnership contract is always an excellent idea to put the scheme into perspective; don’t hire a lawyer, just draft one yourself and show it to your friend.
If you’re not thinking joint venture and more advisory role, then you’ll need to ask yourself these questions:
Does your friend have experience in the field you’ll be working in together?
- Is your friend qualified to advise appropriately?
- Does your friend have the time to help you?
- What does he or she expect to get out of assisting you?
- What amount of finder’s fee would be appropriate?
- Would you be better going directly to an agent or manufacturer?
Try to be dispassionate when answering these questions: it’s cold, hard cash you’ll be investing after all.
Plan and consult
Even if you have convincingly positive answers from a friend, think the trade fair is the buzz for you or fancy hooking up with a trade mission, we advise you to do your research and have strategies for entering, running and exiting the business. These will enable you to identify the best approach for the business you want to take advantage of opportunity in China.
Whichever method you choose for your first trip to China, the safest and surest bet for your business is to talk to a qualified consulting firm.