Top 10 tips for doing business in China

Bristol’s sister city Guangzhou in southern China

By Richard Lowe – Chairman, West of England China Bureau

  1. Prepare and plan for the long haul
    The key is to take a long-term approach and to plan for the long haul. It can take several years to nurture the seeds of opportunities so the priority is to have a very clear export strategy with clear goals before you even enter a new market.
  2. Research and do your homework
    If you’re setting up shop anywhere, I’m sure you’ll agree, that it’s vital you research the landscape before expending too much effort. So, knowing the specific local market where your services or products play to your unique strengths and where there’s a genuine demand, is essential.
  3. Learn from exporters and advisors
    Researching and talking to experienced exporters and advisors will help you decide where you should focus your energies. Exporters already working in your chosen market will have the practical know-how, whilst trade advisors will have sector and market research knowledge.
  4. Contact local trade associations
    It’s worth searching out local trade associations in the country you are looking to export. These associations will have local industry links, know your buyers and competitors. They can also signpost useful contacts and connections.
  5. Allocate time, resources and budget
    You can burn a lot of time, effort and money if you are not careful. Be clear about how much time, resources and investment you’re going to set aside for your exports. You must also work out how you will balance domestic and international work.
  6. Talk to friends, family, and contacts
    Share your export plans with others. You’ll be surprised how many people have local connections or people who know people in your chosen market.
  7. Develop your cultural skills
    Whilst it’s important to invest in cultural training before you enter a new country, there is no better way to understand the subtleties than spending time with locals. Find networking group and partners where you can cultivate your understanding.
  8. Demonstrate integrity and credibility
    The point here is to narrow your focus in the early stages of developing your market. Stick to where you are most comfortable, credible and able to talk with key stakeholders. You can build your credibility by demonstrating know-how by holding seminars, writing articles for the local market and publishing press releases e.g. case studies.
  9. Build trusted partners and co-operation
    As you develop a local presence you’ll need local partners and suppliers. Therefore, it’s important to do your due diligence to ensure your brand is well represented as your reputation is on the line.
  10. Harness technology
    We use LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Skype, conference calls and preferred local social media. Send regular updates, newsletters, and articles, book regular calls and online meetings – ensure you write up and email minutes to avoid ambiguity or misinterpretations.