Even though China experienced some economic downturn at the end of 2014, there are many small businesses that could benefit from trading with China. Chinese consumers love Western high-end goods. A 2013 article in the Chicago Tribune pointed out that over 1.5 million Chinese consumers visited the US and the UK in 2012. These consumers spend more than 300 million dollars a year on luxury goods. Many US retailers host Chinese consumers every year. Jeweler Tiffany & Company employs Mandarin speakers at their Fifth Avenue store.
Servicing Chinese consumers domestically is quite a bit different than international trading. It can be challenging, and it is important for a business to do their research very carefully before attempting to open the doors to China.
Many small businesses are put off by a perceived lack of export information combined with currency and payment concerns. However, there are plenty of resources available to help small US businesses in China.
The US Commercial Service has a section dedicated to China on its website. It contains information and resources about doing business in China, including industry information, market research and trade events.
Another helpful website is America’s Small Business Administration which provides finance information for exporters as well as getting started and contracting support. The website will also point you to other valuable resources.
In the UK there is the UK Trade and Investment website which provides information about exporting with details about trade fares and webinars. Another useful website is the UK Export Finance website, which has an informative guide to exporting to China.
If you want to do business with China, it is important to remember that there are cultural differences and the more aware you are, the less chance you have of making a mistake that might cost you your trade reputation.
An article in the International Business Times lists a number of cultural differences that should be taken into consideration. They include learning to be patient and not worrying about silence. Manners are also very important, as well as good timekeeping.
Learn Chinese superstitions. For example the number four is considered unlucky as well as the color black.
Visit China and the region where you will do business. You will learn a lot about the people and their culture by just being there with personal interaction. Observe how successful brands are advertised and packaged. Talk to as many consumers as you can to better understand your market (even if you do not speak Chinese, you will no doubt find English speakers).
In order for your business to succeed and present a professional image, translations should be professional as well. Do not attempt to do business using Google Translate, it will not be understood and it might even offend.
If you are going to advertise and use social media, ensure it is localized so it makes sense to local consumers and reflects their way of life, not yours.
Doing business abroad is a daunting task but with the right research and preparation, it can mean new avenues of revenue and success.
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