Japan Entry 101‎ > ‎

6 General tips to follow

6 points you need to be careful about when developing a business in Japan

Recently, I have often been asked to give advice about starting a business in Japan.  I will summarize what I advise in these meetings.  It would be great if you could use us as a reference when starting to develop your business in Japan.

1. Facebook > Linkedin
In Japan, people tend to use Facebook instead of Linkedin for business.  Therefore, when you have a formal meeting with a Japanese businessman, even you are not a friend of him/her, you may sometimes receive a Facebook request.  In that case, he/she sends a request on Facebook, the same way they might do on Linkedin in the US, so please do not think it is weird.  You do not need to accept the request if you do not like it.  In the technology industry in Japan, people often use Facebook messages instead of emails as their main form of communication.  Therefore, you may sometimes receive Facebook messages, so please check your 'Other mail' folder occasionally.l

2. English speaker, but not the right person
When you begin to develop your business in Japan, you may consult someone who can speak English very well and start making plans to develop your business in Japan.  Even though he/she is  Japanese and can speak English very well, he/she cannot always give you right advises in developing in Japan.  Unfortunately, there are few Japanese  who can speak English well.  If you try to work with someone who is not familiar with starting business in Japan, with the assistance you can for sure meet people in each company at least, but you may begin to get a reputation that your company is unreliable. Please find someone who can support you in developing your business in Japan.

3. Ask to have articles written in Japanese
Many Japanese people do not read articles in English.  There are many services which are popular in English-speaking countries like the US but are not well known in Japan.  Therefore, even if many articles are written in English, there is the possibility that those articles will not be read in Japan when you start developing your business in Japan.  I recommend you ask someone to write articles in Japanese before going into business in Japan. Please choose services best known for start-ups businesses like The Bridge, or TechWatch based in the US for writing such articles.

4.  Double-check Japanese language
Japanese people are very strict about accuracy in their language (forgetting that they cannot speak English).  If there are strange Japanese words or phrases, you may loose your customers' trust in your services.  Therefore, you need to be careful when you use an on-line translation service.  It is better to use crowdsourcing services like conyac or Gengo to translate into Japanese.  After that, it is better if you ask a friend or find a Japanese-speaker from an outsourcing company to double-check the translation and make sure it is accurate.  This can only increase the trust in your service better in a high degree.

5. Japanese people do not say "No".
The Japanese are people who do not say things clearly.  If they do not say "Yes" or "No", it often means "No".  Japanese people often give an unclear answer, so if you do not understand, please try to ask them for more details.

6. Let's create a Japanese branch
When you develop your business in Japan, I recommend you to create a Japanese branch.
It is not difficult to make a branch there and there are so called "Co-working Spaces" where you can have an address in Japan to create a branch.
If you have an address in Japan on your business card, that makes it easier to do business with major companies in Japan.  Also, it is better too if you could hire at least one Japanese employee.  Even if your staff can understand Japanese, you may have difficulty making  Japanese business partners due to the difference in language or culture.  If there is a Japanese staff-member who can help you, knows that makes it easy to solve the problem.