Otis Speaks at Hot Market Watch Conference
GBBN Architects President Greg Otis, AIA recently spoke at the US Commerce Service 6th Annual Southern Ohio District Export Council Hot Market Watch Conference. (To view the presentation, click HERE)
The event attended by 300 leaders of manufacturing, product development, research, and service companies in Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana, provides insight on monetary, legal, employment, and political policy affecting business abroad. Otis joined 3 others as keynote panelists regarding pitfalls to avoid and tips for success in launching new businesses in China, Brazil, South Korea, and the countries of the ASEAN region.
During the conference held at Xavier University, Otis's remarks focused on the key factors for successful business, largely drawing on GBBN's own lessons learned during 10 years of operations in China. In those 10 years GBBN has parlayed their first successful suburban housing project in Beijing into a full-service Urban Planning, Architecture, and Interior Design practice servicing the largest mixed use developers and healthcare institutions throughout Eastern China. Otis explained there are 6 keys to unlocking the potential of the China market to Western companies.
1. Relationships: China's market operates upon an "organized inter-dependency" between companies with unique goods and services, and the local infrastructure on which those goods and services are delivered. Having strong relationships with your industry partners and the zhongjianren (intermediaries) that act on your behalf will bring companies opportunity.
2. Readiness: Companies need to do their homework - know the market you are entering, the nature of the competition and your foreign customers' buying habits. Nothing will instill trust in your brand like putting "boots on the ground."
3. Use Common Sense: The international marketplace operates on the same basic business principles as the US market. However, understanding the cultural negotiation tactics of your business partners and customers is key. American's need to understand that the Chinese value relationship building over the contract details. Contracts are only the start of the partnership, not the final word. Set policy based on firm business objectives, and make no excuses.
4. Localize Your Business: The two truths of the Chinese market are speed and growth. Learn the political and business infrastructure that enable the market, and meet the leaders that are successful in it. Adapt your finance, operations, business development, and delivery models to the local processes, but don't compromise your principles.
5. Change Management: It's not an Oxymoron. Shift is a constant reality. Remain nimble, flexible, adaptable to the market influences. There is a perceivable and real connection between monetary and legal policy and the market performance. The Chinese government has established a sophisticated system of market controls, and they use it regularly to maintain growth.
6. Use Every Assets Available: The US Department of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce are excellent resources for information on policy and procedures, as well as connection to their Chinese counterparts. The Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce is likewise an advocate for businesses in Southwestern Ohio. Companies that are able to real value to the Chinese market in job growth, new technologies, and investment are given find great reward in using these resources wisely. The Chinese market success is dependent on your success.
As a conclusion, Otis stressed that companies should have a clear understanding of why they are entering the China market. Their objectives should be defined in clear financial terms. Business objectives should be realistic and grounded in context with the overall corporate mission, and have a specific timeline for success in mind. Ultimately Otis says, "In China, everything is hard, but nothing is impossible."