Doing Business in India – Business and Culture

When looking at a country from another cultural background, you tend to wear a kind of “cultural eyeglasses.” You often interpret everything from your own cultural conditioning. Things may seem irrational, frustrating, or upsetting, simply because of that conditioning. This is fertile ground for future conflicts in many areas. To me, culture is an iceberg, where the main force is resting beneath the surface.

There are two major, typical miscalculations foreign corporations tend to make when they approach the Indian market.

First, they tend to feel that because culture is intangible and it does not show itself in the bottom line, they do not need to waste their time on that issue.

Second, they may think that culture is like marketing or finance: you learn about culture in India in a four or eight hour session and that is all you need to know. Then you are free to continue with your job since you are adequately sensitized to the culture.

It is important to really appreciate Indian culture. The main reason for this is that if conflict arises, it will give them a much better perspective on understanding the source of the conflict and resolving it. Still, many foreign businesses tend to put everything in a “black box.” If a problem occurs, for example, with castes or religion, here are the solutions – one, two, three, four. In reality, it is not as simple as that.

If foreign visitors can learn to appreciate cultural issues and understand the cultural background of their Indian partner, then they will have a much better understanding of the general problems which arise in doing business. They will be able to look at a problem and consider all the variables that are affecting the particular situation, and then go about and seek a solution for it.

Understanding the totality of the big picture will considerably empower Western companies to be successful in India. Foreign representatives need to understand that accepting the Indian culture (without wanting to change it) is quintessential. A day-long program, for example, is inadequate, even though the manager may feel sufficiently culturally sensitized. For a long run, the best advice is an immersion in a fascinating, maybe at times distressing, Indian culture.

Thank God for Competitors and Market Research

I learned to live with the fact a long time ago that I couldn’t think of everything. I can’t predict what is the best approach to take with customers. I don’t always know what products are best to sell. So, whenever I am in doubt about business direction, I look to my competitors.

“Sometimes I think my competitors do more for me than my friends do: my friends are too polite to point out my weaknesses, but my competitors go to great expense to advertise them.

My competitors are efficient, diligent, and attentive: they make me search for ways to improve my product and my service. If I had no competitors, I might be lazy, incompetent, inattentive: I need the discipline they enforce on me.

I salute my competitors; they have been good to me. God bless them all!”

- Paul Lee Tan

In today’s world the best way to check up on your competitors is the internet. As I point out in my book, Market Research Made Easy, you can use the internet:

  • to locate your competitors
  • to see what advertising they are using
  • to see what services or product innovations they have created
  • to see who endorses their product
  • to see what key words they are using for internet search engines
  • to see who links to them.

    The internet is a invaluable tool for market research, which can keep you up to date on your competitors.

    Competitors keep us on our toes and push the envelope, but I have learned to not follow them too closely. One of our competitors was advertising that I didn’t think would work. Instead of running out and paying money to join my competitor, I stood by and watched for a few months. Eventually, they learned that they were wasting money. I saved mine.

    Competitors like customers aren’t always right, but they are my competitors, so I am capable of learning from them. When they are right, I’ll follow as well as lead. When they’re wrong, I will not gloat . . . too much.

  • How to Start Work at Home Business and Make a Living

    It is no more the phase of national depression. Conditions have improved and employee poaching at maximum remuneration is becoming the trend. But still at personal levels discontentment and depression resulting from overwork, less payment, workplace harassment is common. ‘Work from home’ is one of the many consequences of the merging workload, job outsourcing and the need for flexible workhours.

    When Should You Start Work at Home?

    Though there is no dearth of work at home offers, you should not plunge directly. It has been seen that the successful home business owners have made it big after considerable exposure to the works in the office.

    Be it marketing, content development or business processing, you are facing a global clientele where sub-standard does not fetch anything. So, it is believed that couple of years experience in a particular job will power you with the industry standards and make you market-ready.

    Should Start Work at Home?

    There are many popular work at home businesses such as business processing, website promotion, medical billing, online marketing and direct sales, etc. But, to make it to the top you must be prepared for the particular work and should be aware of the conventions of that job.

    Say for you are taking the job of online promotion at home, but you don’t meet the deadline. In this case you might loose your money and someone else will bag that job.

    A decision to start a work at home (a home business) just as a rebellion against your boss or for more monetary benefits is not worthwhile. No doubt, there is freedom, fun and financial benefits in home businesses, but the condition is that your creative self should be interested in that job.

    Never be moved by the tall claims of ‘Making millions’ without doing anything. Plan for a successful home based business based on your experience, expertise and resources. Only then you will be able to turn your hobby/expertise into dollars.

    Inside Story of ‘Work at Home’

    Well, you can put your talent work for you, but as per clients’ specifications if your work is something like medical billing or any type of business processing. Sales is a different ball game altogether. Irrespective of the nature of your business, it’s always better to work under a perfect mentor.

    Ideas alone do not make anything. It’s people who make things happen. Suppose you planned a robust system of online direct marketing where you don’t need to do the marketing, your system does everything for you. Even then you have to manage the system and check/reply the leads.

    So, a decision to start a home business by superficial motivation might make you worse off. That home business is worth considering where you have a track record so that you can evaluate and investigate and evaluate.

    Remember, 90% of work at home based businesses are pure gimmicks, outright scams. First, check the authenticity of the source, credibility of the opposite party before taking any job online.

    5 Tips for Your Own Home Business

    1. All home based businesses, especially direct marketing, are changing rapidly. Make yourself and the system ready to adapt/respond quickly.

    2. Share information freely, be always in touch.

    3. Experiment with new ideas but tolerate the mistakes of others.

    4. Be aware of your objectives.

    5. Update yourself with home based business literatures.