Plan for Success in Japan

Starting a Successful Small Business in Japan

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Planning to Invest

Establishing a small business and investing in Japan is bound to be filled with problems. If, however, you understand the business environment and carefully plan your entrance into the market, the rewards of doing business in Japan are countless. Advance planning can help you to avoid regulatory, cultural and language barriers that make doing business a little more complex in Japan.

Before you Invest

Before you take the leap, make the time to read Japanese business publications and use the Internet to better understand the economic and market trends, successful new products and the business environment in Japan as a whole. Work out what type of corporate structure you plan to open in Japan, and then figure out what you have to do to make it happen. There are four different types of structure in Japan and each has benefits and drawbacks.

You should establish the requirements for a business visa (they differ depending on your country of origin), and for renting an office. You don’t have to live in Japan to start a business, but your business probably stands a better chance of success if you do.

Japan ranks second in Asia when it comes to Global Competitiveness, and this attracts many foreign investors to its shores

Once You Have Decided to Invest

Once you have decided to start up in Japan, you will have to register your business as required by the prefecture in the region where you plan to locate it. You must also register your business with the Ministry of Justice. This can take some time and it isn’t cheap. You will require a certificate of seal registration to legally contract in Japan, so you’ll also have to apply for this before you start.

You should consult a tax specialist as there are tax incentives available to foreign investors, and there are tax registration requirements and deadlines that must be met on the commencement of business in Japan.

There is Help Available

Make contact with the Japanese External Trade Organisation JETRO. This government-funded organization is there to assist foreign investors to get their businesses off the ground. They offer free working space in central Tokyo and a number of other areas. Here you can conduct your business for up to fifty days after inception. The fully bilingual staff at JETRO can offer you invaluable assistance on business start-up requirements.

Learn Customer Requirements

As in all markets, networking is an important marketing tool so sign up with a club, or find a networking forum on the Internet to find potential clients and business partners. It is important from the outset that you make networking and the gathering of information a priority. Speak to potential customers to determine exactly what value proposition they expect from your organization. The Japanese value customer service, and may wish to deal directly with your company rather than with service agents.

Many companies choose to use distributors to avoid the costs of setting up an office in Japan. A local office does, however, offer the advantage of greater control and there should be better opportunities for growth and brand equity. It is, however, important to control costs as it is very easy to run up expenses in Japan.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

If you understand the business environment and carefully plan your entrance into the market, the rewards of doing business in Japan are countless.

Planning is the secret to success

Japan ranks second in Asia when it comes to Global Competitiveness, and this attracts many foreign investors to its shores. If you carefully plan your entry into this vibrant market, your business could be highly successful.

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Written by Jenny Fletcher

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