How To Be A Successful Entrepreneur In Japan
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This may not be a popular opinion, but that is the reality of doing business in the country, unless your business is tech oriented.
To be an entrepreneur in Japan, you will need to work outside your current company and find some kind of deal or trade.
You need to meet a person who is willing to hand over their assets (hiring you) in exchange for a stake in your business. In many ways, a partnership or business is a similar to a business buyout.
Creating and selling ideas to companies is not easy
You will have to use your network of friends and possibly know someone who has some work they want to get rid of.
Risking your money and time investing in some entrepreneur in Japan may be a smarter choice compared to trying to make a name for yourself in the workplace and society.
Many people also go to Japan thinking it will be easy to get an amazing paying job as an entrepreneur.
I once received a PM to work from a senior Japanese person for an undisclosed amount of time. He wanted me to come to Japan for a short period of time.
However, this potential deal never came to fruition.
So many companies in Japan don't really want to give the responsibility to an employee
Most corporations don't want their employees becoming a commodity for your business. Most companies would rather purchase a second-rate design company and hire you to create ads, manuals, and brochures.
In many ways, having an in-house design company can be more lucrative than working for a corporation.
There are some companies out there that are interested in hiring individuals to work with them. The key is to know your business and have an idea of where you want your company to go.
The secret of how to get a job with a company is to know your value. This is the reason why my business became so successful.
Build up your networking skills
I learned this the hard way when I was working at an international school.
As the regional director, I managed the day-to-day operations of the school and was also responsible for the students. I would go to classes and meetings, hosting small meetings with individuals at the companies I represented.
If I was lucky enough, I might get a couple of responses out of these meetings. If I was unlucky, I might have to cancel my meetings with people who did not return my calls or emails or the people who did not show up to meetings that I was not expecting them to show up to.
All these experiences made me realize that it was really important to be more 'on-point' when it came to networking. I became more self-aware and started to think of networking as a strategy.
I remember speaking to an alumni of the school that, after graduating, ended up working in the US for a consulting firm. They told me how amazed they were at the quality of people they got to work with.
This individual, however, found it much harder to network than they thought it would be.
At this stage of my career, networking in Japan was still quite a challenge. I realized that I had to learn how to be an 'expert' in how to network.
I was still young and though I was comfortable doing presentations to small groups of people, I was not comfortable giving large presentations to large audiences.
Starting an incubator for each of the audiences
So, I started to have an 'incubator' for each of the audiences I would be in front of.
For example, in the United States, I would have a 30-minute "incubator" session where I would meet with individuals one-on-one to get to know them a little better and try to find a common language (English) that we could use to get through the presentation.
Here in Japan, I would have an hour-long "incubator" where I would meet with a group of three or four individuals and try to find a common language (Japanese) we could use to get through the presentation.
For the most part, I learned these things by trial-and-error.
But, I was still unsure if this would actually work.
After two years of trying to implement this strategy in Japan, my team and I finally tried it for the first time.
I gave a presentation in front of 15 colleagues at the company and we had a great turnout with people talking and connecting with each other.
We then went on to give this same presentation in front of 300 colleagues in the local chapter of the Japan Society for Corporate Executives (JSCE). Again, we had great attendance.
With this positive feedback and positive energy from everyone, I realized that this strategy was actually working.
With this newfound knowledge, I started to implement what I learned in Japan in the US. Going on fewer sales calls but when I did have them.
I would spend a lot more time analyzing the different aspects of the company I was calling about.
I would try to spend more time trying to understand the culture of the company, their business processes, the different groups that exist within the company, the relationships between people within the company, and the differences in each group.