Find the right business partner in India

 One of the most frequent questions for INTO INDIA is how do we find the right business partner in India? Most case studies of Australian businesses succeeding in India reveal one key element – finding the right local partner.

What is the right local partner?

It is much more than someone who says “yes”. Too many have been frustrated in Indian market entry because they forged alliances with any and everyone who said “yes” – which means everyone they meet. India is a culture that cannot say no, so be wary of the yes answer.

The right partner is already active and successful in your field. They can show you their track record.

Your right partner will have connections among suppliers and customers, and will be keen to introduce you to them so you can form your own judgement.

In the collective culture of India, your right partner will be well connected in the various business chambers and will have good connections in government – central and state. This right partner will demonstrate these connections by organising meetings for you, rather than just saying “yes” we are connected.

Your right partner will be someone you double check with Austrade and with other reliable connections you have in India or Australia.

Your right partner could ultimately become an agent, a joint venture or more. They might just be a trusted individual who willingly offers to make connects for you – this freely opening doors does occur in India.

Your right partner might be a talented individual who you hire into your business. Or it might be a combination of external and internal. Patience will be your best friend as you make these choices.

Finally, your right partner will develop relationships for you – because in Indian culture relationships matter. Relationships first, business second is the path to long term business in India. Quick deals are just that – one transaction that might not lead to anything.

So, how are you going finding the right partner in India?
 

Online meetings present the challenge – how do I introduce myself?

Zoom, Teams and other online meetings are now part of our lives. In many of these meetings, you are called upon to introduce yourself. Maybe everyone is introducing themselves.

It can get the pulse raising and the mind in overdrive. What will I say? Where should I focus? Will they like me? Meanwhile, we are missing out on all the other interesting introductions happening.

The stress can be negative – or positive. Through practice, we can come to recognise stress when it arises and use it for good – ah, now, better concentration, sharper reflexes, and so on. In contrast, if we have a negative reaction to stress it can mess up our introduction – nervous, shaky voice, tongue-tied, rambling on….

So, what is the easiest way to introduce yourself?

Like all public communication, the secret is to keep it simple.

The simplest way to introduce yourself is in three parts (and this might mean just three sentences) – present, past and future. People love this approach – they recognise the structure, simplicity and like a note about the future.

A present-tense statement to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Stephen, and I’m a communication consultant and author. My current focus is mentoring and writing.”

Past tense might be just two or three points about your background and gives you credentials and credibility. An example: “My background is in corporate communication, and I have previously advised top 100 corporates and big four professional services firms.”

Future tense is all about projecting optimism and enthusiasm – two very likeable characteristics. In a meeting this should relate to the topic. “In the next 12 months I plan to do more writing towards a new book and meetings like this give me not only content, but the motivation to keep exploring”.

Simple? Present, past and future. Each can be as long or short as the occasion requires – but always err on the side of shorter. Trust me – you will gradually enjoy (and smile) while introducing yourself.

How fast is India changing? It is about to become the largest producer of steel on the planet

INTO INDIA has written about the extraordinary transformation that is happening in the “New India” – airports, roads, ports, urban renewal, smart cities, shopping malls, digitisation and online shopping.

But is is truly stunning to hear that India is right on the verge of being the biggest steel producer in the world.

On August 23, Minister of Civil Aviation and Steel, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, stated that India would soon become the world’s top steel producer. The Minister was addressing an NMDC and FICCI-organized conference on the Indian minerals and metals business. After China, India is the second-largest producer of crude steel worldwide.

He believed that India had switched from being a net steel importer to an exporter of steel. According to him, India now consumes 78 kg of steel per person, up from 57.8 kg in 2013–14. By 2030, the government wants to produce 300 million tonnes (MT) of steel, according to Mr. Scindia.

READ MORE:

https://www.ndtv.com/business/india-to-become-worlds-number-one-producer-of-steel-union-minister-jyotiraditya-m-scindia-3278800

7 myths about doing business with India

In India take time out to look and learn – like me at India Gate in Delhi.

Myth one

Do everything their way and let your Indian host lead

Yes, always let your Indian host lead the conversation. But no, they might not want to. And no, you might have a simple offer or point to make. So – how to converse? I always let Indians know (and remind them) that as an Australian I am informal and friendly and direct – so please I hope that is OK with you (of course it is) – then make your point.

Myth two

Indian companies are family businesses

Yes, a lot of them are. No, many of them are not. And no, again, many are now a mixture as family businesses look for more innovation and more skills. And by the way, a high number of Australian and western companies are family businesses too – just find the way each company wants to do business.

Myth three

Always wear formal business clothes

In my almost two decades of engagement with India, this has changed. There are times for formal (less of them) and times for informal (lots more of them). Yes, Delhi is more formal. Yes, Mumbai is more informal. Most of your business or smart casual clothing will be fine over there.

Myth four

Always negotiate

True, India is a culture where negotiating over price and service is a constant – like a way of life. But business can be different. Indian companies know an enormous amount about western business preferences. More important than negotiating for the deal, be prepared for changes as you go along the relationship – Indians are flexible and accepting of change, so you should be too.

Myth five

Get to know your business partner first

This one has been my mantra for a long time – but I am also now seeing demand and hunger for products and services grow so fast in India that sometimes they are ready for business – now. Get to know them later. Be ready for anything – and where you can take time to build relationship.

Myth six

Be clear and direct in communication

I have tried this one and it rarely works for me. Communication takes two, right? If the other side is ready for clear and direct, then do it. But if not, you will fail in communication. One thing more important – be patient, the deal can always be done later, let things settle, exchange some emails, chat a bit – you will find a way. Again – whenever I feel direct communication is helpful, I always preface it with “You know that we Australians like to be very direct – especially on the cricket field”.

Myth seven

Make the most of your time in India by filling the day with appointments

This has never worked for me. Indians are proud of their country, the culture, history, architecture and more – so it seems to me it makes good sense to go see and learn about this. When you can talk to your Indian host about something you have seen, it enlivens everything. It’s much the same for us in Australia isn’t it? So, have some “free” time for looking around.

Is India the global centre of autodidacts?

Autodidacts.

People who love learning and take ongoing learning into their own hands.

How do you know if you’re an autodidact?

Autodidacts are busy, goal-oriented individuals who never run out of things to do. They are generally curious about things and believe in thinking outside the box. Their curiosity is effervescent, and they can easily talk about a subject they had no formal education in for hours together.

In my experiences of many visits and countless interactions, I have found India to be in love with ideas, open to exchange learning and in every way, it is the role model for would-be autodidacts.

Can Australia balance its Pacific Ocean strategy (USA) with an Indian Ocean strategy (India)? Seems it can.

The four leaders of the QUAD – a new closeness transforming this region

There’s a big change happening and it is spearheaded by the new dynamic of the Australia-India trade and security relationship – this is growing to provide a balance for Australia’s historic close alliance with the USA.

INTO INDIA has long felt that Australia has “looked north east” for too long and now is looking more “north west”.

For a while our diplomats and politicians talked about “the Indo-Pacific” as a way to introduce the change. But it is not a sustainable concept and there is no such region.

Australia has a Pacific Ocean strategy (USA) and is now building an Indian Ocean strategy (India). These relationship shifts affect our defence and security, as well as our trade and investment.

Matching that change, it is more than symbolic that an organisation such as the Australia India Chamber of Commerce is focussing on the key industry areas of greatest potential under the deal – and moving away from the old “federal” and state based approaches. Great! Under the old structures, outcomes were often lost in rivalries and politics.

The AICC model has one national organisation – supported by National Industry Groups. This frees up resources to make a difference.

So far the NIG’s include Education, Power and Renewables, Critical Minerals, Defence and Security, and Technology and Innovation. Small steps, but steps they are!

One step at a time, one change at a time, at so many levels, Australia is looking “north west” and taking a role in the Indian Ocean region by a close relationship with the new regional and global power, India.

The new strength of the QUAD (India, Japan, USA and Australia) is also part of the change and the new world of moving alliances.

If the move keeps going, Australia will have strength in two main regions and close relations with two major powers – India and the USA.

Australia getting international students back – but a lot of work to do

The Department of Education has released year to date (YTD) April 2022 international student data. There were 456,811 international students on student visas for YTD April 2022, down 13 per cent or 67,301 on April 2021.

  • The student markets with the largest decreases were China (down 16 per cent decrease or 25,155 on April 2021) and India (down 18 per cent or 16,086 students on April 2021).
  • Overall, China and India contributed 61% of the total loss in students for YTD April 2022.
    • The number of students studying offshore decreased by 42 per cent from 152,888 to 89,082

There have been more students complete, discontinue, or defer than start studies. While YTD April 2022 commencements are up 6 per cent (or 8,584) to 150,834, enrolments fell 14 per cent (or 78,857) to 496,232.

Clearly Australia has to promote hard to win back – and grow – this market.

13 things Indians can’t believe about Australia

There is a lot to love about Australia, and given the number of Indian migrants, students and tourism who do come to Australia, it is clear Indians love it too. But Indians are also in for a few surprises.

1 Australia has a winter

Yes, one surprise for Indian visitors that it is not always sunny in Australia. Apart from the tropical north, most Aussie cities have four seasons. And people go snow skiing during the winter (resorts in NSW and Victoria).

2 Aussies will wear shorts plus a scarf and beanie on cold days

Bit strange to see, but such is the Aussie male love of wearing shorts that many do it during winter too.

3 A beer is not a beer

Indians who build up a thirst and drop into a pub might just order “a beer please” only to be asked if they would like a schooner, middy, pony, pot or a pint.

4 Kangaroos are not in the main city streets

Shocking to know that the sight of a kangaroo in any Australian major city would be more astounding to Aussies than to you – take short drive our of the city and you will see this very strange and highly dignified animal.

5 A short drive is always long

Speaking of short drives, Aussies will take off for a weekend getaway and drive for 5 or 6 hours. Nothing is close and every trip is a long trip in Australia, so they are used to long drives.

6 Yes, there are spiders the size of your hand

Spiders scare most Aussies as much as you – and some of these spiders are big. A huntsman can pop up when you least expect it. I won’t tell you about redbacks…just don’t put your hand into strange pipes or under rocks or rubbish.

7 Everything is “game on”

Rivalry is big in Australia, so everything is a competition – city vs city, state vs state, not to mention actual sport which is like a religion for Aussies – it pays to show even a mild interest in any sport to gain the respect of locals. Not to mention India vs Australia in cricket.

8 Thongs go with anything

The footwear known in Australia as “thongs” can be worn on a surprising number of occasions, including those hosting a social function in their home. It’s part of the national dress code, which values informality.

9 Sorry, but your name will not be your name

Australians love to play with names and, while this might be disrespectful in most countries, in Australia it is a sign of affection and acceptance if they abbreviate or adapt your name. Adding “o” is common – so I am often known as “Steve-o”. Again, friendly. So, Vijeth could become “Vij-mate”, or Abhishek become “Ab”, Sucheta becomes “Suchi” and so on – nicknames are everywhere.

10 Joking at funerals

Australians use humour to reduce the negative emotion of tough situations – so jokes might be shared, and laughter occur around the boardroom table, in class, during interviews and even at funerals. It’s a way of making everyone comfortable.

11 Tall poppies get cut down

Australia has the “tall poppy syndrome” which means anyone who takes themselves too seriously, or is too proud, or too vocal about their success, will probably be taken down. Sometimes it is a test to see if “you can take it”, because being able to laugh at what appears to be a criticism is seen as a good thing. They do it too themselves too – it is not uncommon for business teams representing their company to say to a potential client “we’ll find a way to mess it up” – but done with a grin.

12 Red lights are mandatory

Australian drivers stop at red lights. I know this is shocking to many Indians, but the level of compliance with small rules such as red lights is incredibly high. Even if they want to turn right and there is no oncoming traffic in sight, they will still stop if the light is red.

13 Informality is a sign of friendship

People are informal. At my golf club, a 12 year old junior member will see me and say “G’day Steve, how you going?” If Prime Minister Anthony Albanese walks by (which sometimes happens in this laid back country) many Aussies would greet him as “Albo” – yes, that is his nickname.

India changing at a great rate – opportunities abound

DLF Mall of India – one of the symbols of rapid change in India

Two stories this week provide some insight into how fast India is changing.

India buys Japanese eyewear firm

The first was in eye wear – with an Indian firm taking over a leading Japanese retailer. See more here:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/business/2022/jun/30/electric-two-wheeler-penetration-can-reach-to-100-per-centby-fy27-forecasts-niti-aayog-2471320.html

Two-wheelers to be 100% electric

The second was a prediction by the national planning body that the two-wheeler market in India (which is enormous) could reach 100% electric by 2026-27.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/business/2022/jun/30/electric-two-wheeler-penetration-can-reach-to-100-per-centby-fy27-forecasts-niti-aayog-2471320.html

Time to become part of India’s change?

Talk to Austrade.

https://www.austrade.gov.au/australian/export

Talk to Australia India Chamber of Commerce.

Talk to me.

4 Indian cities rank in top 20 sustainability index for Asia Pacific

Pictured is Bengaluru (Bangalore) among the top Indian cities for sustainability

According to the Asia Pacific Sustainability Index 2021, the top 20 sustainable cities include four Indian cities: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

36 cities were ranked according to the APAC Sustainably Led Cities Index by global real estate firm Knight Frank based on urbanisation pressure, climate risk, carbon emissions, and government activities.

Singapore, Sydney, Wellington, Perth, and Melbourne were the top five green-rated cities in commercial real estate in the Asia-Pacific region.