As our largest trading partner and a new foreign investor, China will play a big part in the future lives of every Australian company and individual. A wave of investment from Chinese entrepreneurs, migrants and business leaders is flowing into a variety of Australian industries, from mining, food and agriculture to retail, healthcare, technology, tourism and financial services, and this has only just begun!
Having dealt with Chinese investors for over 25 years, I believe that Australian business owners and leaders need to address existing weaknesses in five critical areas to succeed in the Asian Century:
Having people in your team who are fluent or native speakers of Mandarin and/or Cantonese will give your business a distinct advantage in every market sector. Many wealthy Chinese people cannot speak English (even if their children can) and a direct line of communication to your clients will speed up all business dealings and enable your team to develop deeper relationships which will inevitably lead to more sales, referrals and repeat business
An understanding of Chinese culture is crucial to all negotiations with Chinese nationals. This will include cultural issues relating to relationship building, valuations, negotiations, deals, gift-giving, choice of restaurant and even the way you look at a business card! Chinese people often say, ‘we don’t talk business until the third cup of tea’, meaning that building trusted relationships is more important than doing deals. Understanding these types of cultural insights, and the impact it has on decision making, will give your business a distinct advantage over your competitors.
Does your business have deep and meaningful connections into the key centres of influence within the Chinese communities in both China and Australia? Building and maintaining the right connections with relevant business networks, including migration agents, relocation agents, accountants, lawyers and other intermediaries will bring Chinese investors to your business. By developing and deepening these networks, you can establish a reputation for reliability, dependability and trust. These are essential factors in building relationships with any Chinese investor.
A deep and thorough understanding of the economic, business, political and social environment in China, in particular the factors driving Chinese investment into Australia, will allow you to tailor your services and marketing messages to Chinese investors. This takes time, and requires you to invest in your China capabilities and knowledge (through business visits, networking events, conferences etc.) but will give you a strong edge over your competitors. Why not attend Australia China Business Week in 2014? See www.abforum.com.au
Investing in the growth and development of your value proposition for Chinese investors will help you achieve both long and short term rewards. For example, Chinese clients often look for a “concierge-type” business service which offers a much more holistic approach to their investment (e.g. the availability of local shops, entertainment, transport and even sight-seeing). Take the time to understand the needs and preferences of Chinese investors and invest in your ability to over-deliver. Your reward will quickly show up on your bottom line!
With everyone trying to compete for the attention of cashed up Chinese investors, Australian companies have a significant opportunity to beef up their Chinese and Asian capabilities and credentials. This doesn’t happen overnight.