blog by Chris J. Reed, CEO, Black Marketing
Having been in Singapore for six years now I have an understanding of why it is great to do business in Singapore and Asia comparative to doing business in London and the UK. With 20 years of doing business in London, I can honestly say that doing business in Singapore and Asia is so much easier and more pleasurable than doing business in the UK and Europe.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. People think regionally, not locally
One of the first things that I noticed about doing business here is that people do not just think about one country or one city, they think regionally. Asia-Pacific, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand; the list goes on but people do not tend to buy single countries here, they buy regions. Southeast Asia, ASEAN, Asia-Pacific, ANZ; the list goes on.
When I worked in London, most clients were interested in, well, London. Then there were maybe some who looked at England, some may even look at the whole of the UK. Not many looked at Europe as a whole. It is a mindset difference as much as a regional one.
2. People think locally when it comes to creative execution
Clients may well operate in and target Asia-Pacific countries; however, clients also tend to believe in country-specific and even city-specific creative execution. Every city and every country has different customers and that is often reflected in more personal creativity. This is as much so even in cities in the same country like China, India, and Indonesia.
3. Every city in Asia is different, every city fascinating
Asia-Pacific is vastly different to Europe. Every country in Europe has very similar broadband speeds, infrastructure, culture, religion, and politics. There are no military dictatorships in Europe, there are no alcohol-free countries in Europe, there are no typhoons, and less obvious corrupt practices.
Asia, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. That is the wonder of Asia. Every city, every country has different broadband speeds, culture, religions, peoples, way of life, and way of doing business.
When doing business in each city in Asia, you have to constantly be learning and embracing local cultures and local customs. It is inspiring, thought-provoking, revealing, fascinating, and stimulating. Singapore is very much the benchmark of how to run a business-orientated city in Asia-Pacific.
4. People will meet you
One of the great things I noticed about setting up meetings in Asia is that virtually every time I reach out to people on LinkedIn, they would generally say yes to meeting up. When I first came here without a job, I used my LinkedIn network from the UK and got introduced to people and they normally said yes.
When I got my first role over here, I reached out on LinkedIn to CMO’s and MD’s across the region and they said yes. In the various roles that I have had over here and in my current role, I reach out on LinkedIn and people generally say yes. There is a willingness to meet in general and a positivity here that I never found to this extent in London.
5. Singapore is an easy place to meet up
In the UK, it would often be months before people would meet with you and when they did, it would take hours to get there and that was just across London. If you reached out to people outside of London and into the northern cities, it would take even longer.
In Singapore, I can walk to most meetings or my meeting can walk to me. People can decide to meet you tomorrow and it will take five minutes to get there. Even meetings in places like KL and Jakarta can take less time to reach from Singapore than it took me to cross London or use the regional or national rail stations to reach potential clients in the UK.
6. People make decisions
One of the things I do love about Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai is that my clients tend to be very open and straight-talking. If they think we are too expensive, they tell us. If they want to cut a deal (which we do not do), they will ask.
They will also say if they wish to go ahead there and then which most do. There are exceptions; sometimes Asians do not wish to lose face and therefore when they realize that they cannot afford our services, they say they will think about it and will come back to us in a week/month/year when actually they mean never.
Reading these signals took me time but understanding them is crucial to ensure that you do not waste time but also that you allow your potential customer to save face.
7. There is an expat/foreigner/internationalist network
Whether people like it or not, expats buy expats, foreigners buy from foreigners, and locals buy from locals. This works to your advantage if you have a great network of contacts and are good at enhancing this network to grow it further.
As an outgoing expat or internationalist (as a friend of mine likes to call himself as he points out that he and I have no expat package and have no intention of going back to the UK, so therefore we are internationalists rather than expats or even just foreigners in another land), I find it easy to reach out to people and network.
What is the worst that can happen? They may not be interested. What is the best outcome? You may find a client, partner, associate, future employee, investor, media contact, fellow entrepreneur; the list is endless.
8. You get out what you put in
More than anywhere in the world I think Asia rewards hard work. There is no fallback; there is no unemployment benefit or sickness benefit; the government does not come to your aid if you are in trouble in any of the Asia-Pacific nations (with the exception of ANZ which has very similar way of life, government set-up, and outlook to the UK and Europe).
Therefore, the emphasis is on you to work and provide for yourself and your family. If you do not, no one else will. This is a great motivator to work hard. The harder you work, the more you put in, the more you succeed, the more you get out of.
I am not talking about working long hours for the sake of showing you are still at your desk which is a Singaporean custom but I am talking about smart working. However, if you do work hard then you do get rewarded financially, personally, spiritually whichever way you wish to be you can and will be.
9. Asia rewards entrepreneurs
I believe that Asia rewards entrepreneurs more than Europe. It is easier to create and set up a company in Singapore certainly than London. The environment is more pro-business; there are no strikes or unions, no real red tape or barriers to entry.
Anyone can be an entrepreneur in Asia. There are amazing incentives to being one. Low personal and corporation taxes, zero tax on dividends, many financial and other government and trade body incentives, online assistance and a willing, educated, motivated workforce, and amazing logistics.
It is also easier to reach out to potential clients here, to network and to work with other entrepreneurs. It is just basically a more positive business environment in which to do business.
10. Business events
There are more business events here in Singapore than in any other place I have ever experienced. I could literally go to an event every day and every night here in Singapore. There are some amazing business and marketing events and some fantastic networking events, morning, noon, and night.
It is an amazing place to network and learn from engaging content and meet interesting people. It is not just marketing events, it is every kind of event. The BritCham puts on 100 events a year, the AmCham 250 events. There are business events of all kinds covering all industries catering for every business and every executive.