Small Business Idea for Bangladesh

Bangladesh is quickly growing as a small business center. There’s plenty of small and micro business opportunities. Setting up and running a business is full of challenges, but opportunities always welcome those who are ready to take challenges.

Below is a list of manageable business ideas.

1- Grocery Store with Delivery Service: Something that saves time of busy people has great business potential. Starting a small grocery store with delivery option can be a very good business.

2- Tea & Breakfast Corner: Tea being most popular drink everywhere in Bangladesh has a huge business potential in cities like Dhaka. With breakfast and snacks to supplement you can set up a small scale yet profitable business. You can be different from other uneducated tea seller by cleaner and better looking tea cups. Your tea stall should have a touch of creativity.

3- Fast Food Spot: Fast food is as popular in Dhaka as in any other city in Bangladesh. A small food cart with an initial investment of TK.10,000-Tk.25,000 can have a good scope in just any busy location.

4- Fresh Juice Kiosk: It’s one of the low cost business idea that can be established within TK. 5,000 – 7,000. However, success depends on the product you offer and you must have the business set up on right location.

5- Organic Food Production & Delivery: Since a large population in Dhaka is most concerned about their health, they love buying organic. If you own a small or large area for cultivation, or you can rent one, starting organic gardening is one of the profitable ideas. You can grow one on your roof-top.You can grow and deliver at doorstep for their best experience and your profits.

6- Small Bakery: Let it be a small town or a large metropolis, Bakery is bought everyday by people making it an evergreen business. You may find a lot of them already operating, however with a twist you can enter in the market and grab your share, by offering custom cakes, fast delivery, taking large orders, partnering with corporate for bulk orders and so on!

7- Home Cooked Food Delivered on Doorstep: Desiring for freshly cooked homemade food during lunchtime is common among working class and there’s a large population in Bangladesh that would love the idea!

8- Catering Business: Let it be a business, religious or personal event, they all need the best catering. Starting one will surely need investment, but it’s not that high!

9- Bed & Breakfast: If you are owner of a big property and have many extra rooms in your house then consider letting them out to the tourists. This will help you to earn quick cash for your unused space. This is more apt in case the property is located in cultural heritages lush landscapes, airport and places of tourist interests.

10- Everything Tk. 1-99 Gift Shop: Everyone loves to give and receive gifts but often budget constraints do not allow. With a budget gift shop you allow more people to enjoy the occasions and so you get more profits!

11- Tailoring: Though it’s more of ladies tailoring, a huge male population also wants the services. Starting such a business with a partner whereby one is specialist in ladies tailoring while other is best at men’s clothing can be profitable!

12- Photography & Videography: Showcase your photography skills with quick portfolio or do some voluntarily photography at various wedding and corporate events to get noticed.

13- Home Based Gym: If you’ve a spare room in your house and can invest in some machines, it’s one profitable business idea, however your training shall be class apart.

14- Tutoring: Let it be tutoring primary classes or college students, the potential is always there if you are good at explaining the concepts!

15- Mobile Phones/Gadgets Repair: A large section of people who do not buy new device or gadget till the time they have a working device in their hand would love this service Though there’re too many existing already, why not to promote your business online, get reviews and become an authentic repair company!

16. Website Business: You can start a web development business. All you need is a desktop or a laptop and a quite place to unleash your creativity. Of course, you need to attain the necessary skills to be a web developer. It can be a very profitable business without investing much.

17- Tech/Gadgets Shop: There is a big market for tech and gadgets at every place throughout the world and thus opening a business which sells tech products is a smart choices. Irrespective of the type of business, it will require PCs and its accessories.

18- Online Retailing: Buying products from a wholesale market and then selling the same online is good money making proposition. You can take use of ads to find new customers. You just need to brainstorm what people may be looking for.

19- Webpreneur: Becoming one in a city like Dhaka is none too difficult, because it has all the technology and infrastructure to let you explore the web and build up your own empire online. Let it be a local information website, city deals website or just anything that creates value for locals or for a broader community, bring it on!

20- Software Firm: Dhaka is the most fertile ground for software companies to grow. If you’re a good programmer and or have a couple of more experts with you, you can actually setup a fast growing software company in Bangladesh.

21- Small Scale Cloth Shop: People in Bangladesh do buy readymade clothes, but a huge population prefers buying the material to get it stitched according to their specifications. This is why the cloth shops are more popular than readymade garments. It can be quite profitable if you start small and target a specific economic group!

22- Readymade Garments: Well, this one will need a good investment to start, however, the profitability is in finding the cost effective supplier and cheap transportation.

23- Photo Copier: The service is much needed in the commercial hubs or else nearby educations institutes. And, all these places do have such services already, but still you can find some hotspots near public courts, government offices etc.

24- Computer Repairing Service: If you have knowledge and skill, you don’t just need any investment, but yes do spend a little amount on getting your business card and start meeting more and more people who can be your potential customers!

25- Digital Studio: Though smartphone cameras do a lot, people prefer professional photographers to shoot their events. Much of households and businesses require services of a digital studio, and so it can be highly profitable if you have the skill. However, you need an initial investment of at least Tk. 100,000 to set up the computer, UPS, photo quality printer and of course a good digital camera.

26- Online Trading Business: You can buy long life items from wholesale and sell them online, i.e. jewelry, cosmetics, accessories, cloth materials, T shirts and whatever else you can find from your research on local market!

27- Blogging: All you need to have is good writing skills and subject knowledge and blogging can prove to be a great business. Though it suits almost everyone, stay at home mommies/housewives and students can make better use of it!

Why is Customer Loyalty Important to Your Business?

Whether you own a mom and pop corner shop or a worldwide software consultancy, customer loyalty is very valuable to you. Customer loyalty can be loosely defined as the predisposition of any given customer to purchase your goods or services over comparable ones available in the marketplace. When speaking of products (rather than services or the broader classification which includes both) it is often referred to as “brand loyalty.” Investing time and energy in promoting customer loyalty should be an integral component of any business’ marketing strategy. When business people think of “marketing” in general, they tend to focus on activities targeted at attracting new customers. While expanding your business’ customer base is a crucial undertaking which you must work towards with clearly defined goals, the importance of retaining existing customers mustn’t be overlooked. Working toward promoting customer loyalty (or brand loyalty) is critical to your goal for many reasons. A few of the most important reasons why customer loyalty is important to your business are outlined below.

Repeat Business

Loyal customers, almost by definition, will purchase your goods or services again and again over time. Depending on what type of business you have and what the sales cycle is like, you may end up selling more to one loyal customer in a year than you might to even 10 first time customers.

Greater Volume

As you build relationships with your loyal customers, it will become increasingly easy to sell to them in higher volumes. This may happen naturally, or you may choose to incentivize the process for your customers. In any case, higher volumes mean greater sales, which translates to higher overall profits.

Cross-selling Opportunities

Customers who exhibit brand loyalty have a relationship with your business. They trust you to provide quality products and customer service. This creates a great opportunity to fulfill more of your customers’ needs than the traditional ones you currently meet. What does this mean? You can make sales to loyal customers across product lines and thus increase your overall sales volume without needing to focus so much on attracting new customers.

Protects You From the Competition

The more loyal your customers tend to be, the safer you will be from the draw of the competition. Establishing strong brand loyalty can make you practically immune to competitive forces. This is especially important in places where new players enter the marketplace often.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Loyal customers can also bring you new customers. Customers that have great relationships with businesses tend to talk about it. Happy and satisfied customers who keep coming back to you are very likely to refer others who may need your product and/or services.

Benefit of the Doubt

Let’s face it; things go awry sometimes – even in the best businesses. Sometimes we get an order wrong, don’t meet a deadline, or aren’t able to deliver on promises made to customers. In today’s economy, it’s even easier for little hiccups such as these an others to take place in business. These types of mistakes can damage your business’ reputation in the eyes of a new customer. A scheduling error can make your firm seem disorganized and unreliable. This is a very easy way to lose customers. The good news is, loyal customers are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and/or overlook errors. If you maintain the level of customer service and quality that it takes to achieve brand loyalty in the first place, your customers will be willing to forgive you when bad things happen.

Top 7 Similarities of Business and Politics

Politics and Business are so similar in many ways. Sure politics is much dirtier and generally played by less ethical individuals and yet the similarities are often uncanny. Perhaps a brief point-by-point comment on this subject will open a new perspective on this subject. Below are a few similarities to help the thinking juices flow and allow some conceptual thoughts.

1.) In politics you must canvas the area using data about the voters; in business you use demographic software to gather information about the customer.

2.) In politics you must get the voter to make a decision to vote for your candidate; in business you must get the consumer to choose your product or service over your competitor.

3.) In politics you must employ multiple methods to reach the voter; In business any good marketing program uses multiple media, mediums and methods to reach the consumer.

4.) In politics you must show how your candidate is better and different; In business you must show how your brand is best.

5.) In politics you must get those people to the polls to vote; in business you must get those customers in the door of your business to buy something.

6.) In politics you must win or you are forgotten; In business you must beat your competition and the customer must buy from you or you go out of business.

7.) In politics the customer decides with his or her vote; in business your voter buys your product or service with his or her dollar.

I hope this philosophical discussion allows you to see business from a different perspective and if you are in business and considering politics, forget it. Business is a much better game than politics and as a politician might say; You Can Trust Me on This in 2006.

Tips in Starting a Personalized Bracelet Business

Introduction

Starting your very own business is a venture most people would be very hesitant to talk about. Not that it’s illegal or anything, but because of the risks that it entails. But you don’t need a huge pile of cash or a very good credit rating (though it is preferred) in order to start your own business venture. You just need to have an idea to what business you want and the guts to make it happen. And if you’re into arts and crafts, then this one might fit your hobbies well – personalized bracelets.

Personalized bracelets (and other items such as personalised keyrings and name bracelets) are among the latest addition to the accessories most people look for. As most bracelets sold in jewelry shops are not as affordable as they are claimed to be, innovators in the accessory business found a way to incorporate this trend to new materials, create a much affordable version, and thus, the rubber bracelets were born. This trend was popularized through the Livestrong Band, a colored silicone rubber bracelet created by Nike for Lance Armstrong in 2003 which was also called “baller band” and “wrist band”. Through the exposure that it has garnered, it became a high cost-high return instrument used for different campaigns, and other social purposes.

Tips in Starting a Personalized Bracelet Business

Here are some tips on how to start a business that produces personalized bracelets

1. Decide what kind of bracelets you want to sell.

From being “awareness ribbons”, it became an accessory for both men and women. Almost every teenager is wearing one. But generic bracelets took away all the hype from the trend. Teenagers were looking for something new, something more personal. This of course, led to personalized bands/bracelets.

Personalized bands or bracelets are made from different materials. This should be considered during the “planning” phase of your business. Rubber or silicone bracelets (most commonly used as your everyday band) are more flexible and come in different colors. The level of personalization is very high in this material as you can choose the color, the additional bling (some rubber bracelets have installed digital watches), and other things which make it “yours”. In-line or “tennis” bracelets (because it is often seen used by tennis players) has also a high level of customization but should be kept at a minimum as the color of the bracelet itself isn’t as flexible as its rubber counterpart. And leather bracelets (the ones you see in heavy metal musicians and fans) are less versatile and should be used with extreme caution as it is not an ideal day-to-day accessory. Slap bracelets, metal strips which are “slapped” to the wrist to fit, is also very customizable though its customization should be carefully planned as to not mortify its beauty. One way to customize a slap band is for it to be hand stamped.

2. Identify the materials you need to get started.

When you have selected what type of bracelet to produce, the next step would be to identify the materials needed for personalization. It is important for the “would-be” entrepreneur to look for quality materials for the venture. Starting from small purchases of different items would be advisable as you still have to expose the item to potential buyers. Marketing your product is also essential as you should build hype for your product. You could start by posting photos of your products in social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, multiply, Pinterest, etc.) or in your own blog site (if every you have one). Once the product has built interest, pricing the product is next.

3. Take time to decide the best price for your products.

As a start, your pricing should just be above your total cost (around 10% mark-up). This is to promote your product further (this phase is crucial as your first customers will be the benchmark for your product’s future sales and customers). As your business is in its early stages, be patient as the frequency of orders won’t be that much. Just remember that you are still trying to build the product’s credibility to potential customers and it is very likely that your craft will prosper after some time.

Conclusion

Starting any business is not easy. You need to learn how to go with the flow and adapt to changes. Keeping yourself level-headed, patient, persevering, time-conscious and savvy will help you making your own business a perfect fit. It’s not about how much money you invest in it, its how you maximize every cent you use to make things possible.

The Importance of English in International Business

The major factor involved in the importance of English in international business is the acceptance of English as the international language of the business community for the purpose of uniformity in communication. Accepting English eliminates the need to explore an alternative language. If not English, then what language works better for the international business community?

English as an International Language

Perspective of English as Global Communication

If English as a global language “means that English has the widest distribution on the most continents, it is true. If it means that English is the language most utilized for international communication between and among language communities, it is true. But if it implies that English is the language of all the peoples of the globe, it is manifestly false” (Harris, 2001, 685). What may be good for the functionality of business may not be accepted as being good for the non-business community. With any new project or venture, research and development of the product or service should be done so that words used to communicate with the new market are not received with offense. Be sensitive and respectful concerning the decisions made in regard to the ways communication is used and worded.

Perspective of English as Learned Communication

“It is crucial that students are equipped with-and be aware of-both the linguistic and strategic repertoire that they can draw from in situations where they use English to communicate with those who do not share their first language and culture. In addition to the development of strategic competence, students also need to be reminded that communication is a two-way road. That is, making one’s own message clear and trying to understand others is not the sole responsibility of non-native speakers or speakers of ‘less standard’ English varieties (however that is defined). Everyone is responsible for overall successful communication, whether it is international or not” (Matsuda and Friedrich, 2011, 340). Be mindful that words can have different meanings in different parts of the same country. Therefore, having words that have different meaning in different parts of the world is a reasonable possibility. There can also be different versions of English in different locations. Business English could also be different from the native English of an English-speaking country. Do not assume; technology has been made available to know for sure what is involved in any given business project or transaction.

English in International Business Communication

“In thinking about the impact of English on international business, there will be two effects: the intra-language effect and the inter-language effect. The intra-language effect would relate to the impact that English has in stimulating international business activity between English-speaking countries” (Hejazi and Ma, 2011, 153). If the native English of each of the two countries is slightly different, it still could have the feel of dealing with a non-English speaking country if time is not spent coming to an agreement defining business English. Business professionals new to a market will benefit by finding out how things work and use the same language the other market stakeholders are using.

“The inter-language, commonly referred to as “lingua franca”, effect refers to the impact English would have on stimulating FDI activities between countries which have different official languages. The inter-language effect would have two dimensions: the first involves the use of English by a non-English-speaking country when carrying out international business with English-speaking countries; the second involves the situation in which English is used as a vehicle language between two non-English-speaking countries that use different official languages” (Hejazi and Ma, 2011, 153). Even though cooperation in using English in both cases may result in positive benefits for the countries involved, sensitivity in communication should be exercised to avoid miscommunication that may offend members of the markets involved. Good judgment with word choice is very important.

Conclusion

The importance of English in international business will depend on the purpose of the communication for which English is involved. Since the importance of English will vary depending on whether its use helps to complete business transactions, the deciding factor will depend of the opinion of the users concerning that fact. The success of communication in business will involve other factors. The more English works in communication for international business, the more it will be used. It will then be used because it is used by the people for whom businesses want to communicate.

References

Harris, C.D. (2001, October). English as International Language in Geography: Development and Limitation. The Geographical Review, 91, 4, 675-689.

Hejazi, W. and Ma, J. (2011). Gravity, the English language and international business. The Multinational Business Review, 19, 2, 152-167.

Matsuda, A. and Friedrich, P. (2011). English as an international language: a curriculum blueprint. World Englishes, 30, 3, 332-344.

How Many Business Cards Should You Order?

In the modern world of business and networking there is so much conflicting advice about the giving out of business cards. Some say give them out to everyone you meet, whether they are the pizza delivery guy or the CEO of an international company. Others say to give them out more strategically, only to qualified leads or potential customers that you’ve already chatted to and connected with. When it comes to ordering new business cards, the number you need obviously depends on which of these strategies you follow. Some people will get through 1000 cards in a few months, others will make 500 cards last two years.

Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding how many business cards to order.

Do you like to update your branding often?

Often those in the creative and design fields like to create new twists and fresh visuals for their brand and their business cards. They get bored of giving out the same old card after six months or so. In this case guesstimate how many cards you will give out in that time period and order just that amount.

Are you likely to move in the next year or so?

A move may result in a new landline number even if you don’t print your physical address on your cards. There is nothing more unprofessional than crossed out numbers on otherwise beautifully printed business cards, so order a smaller run of perhaps 500 cards to last you until your move.

Are you expecting to attain new qualifications or accreditations in the next year?

If you are likely to want to add those accreditations to your card, then it will make sense only to order enough cards to last until that point.

Do you attend lots of networking events?

If you routinely give out lots of business cards at networking events, then you will get through 500 cards in no time. In this case a larger order of 1000 or more cards makes sense, so that you don’t have to keep re-ordering more.

Do you mostly work online?

If you mostly work and network online and give out only a few cards every now and then, even a small order of 500 cards might last you for years. In that case work smart with the contact info that you provide, so that it is less likely to go out of date. Leave off your physical address and landline and just give out email and web addresses and perhaps your business cellphone number. As long as your website is kept up to date with your contact info then your card will also remain current. Or find a printer who is happy to print short runs of cards and just order 200 at a time.

As a general rule order enough cards to last you six months, or perhaps a year if you prefer not to keep tweaking your design.

How To Start A Concrete Polishing Business

Be it for floors or foundations, countertops or patios, the importance of cement cannot be undermined. This has become such an integral part of our homes and commercial buildings that people are now even growing increasingly interested in cement furniture. It is not incorrect to say that concrete will always be needed. There will also always be a need to keep it polished and looking its best. Since concrete has become so essential for our homes and structures, many new concrete polishing businesses are making their way into the market.

If you, too, are interested in starting a business, read on to find out what you should keep in mind. Research is crucial As with every business, the role of research cannot be undermined when you are trying to become an entrepreneur with your very own concrete polishing company. It is imperative to learn all about installing and polishing before you step into the market. For your own concrete polishing business, it is also extremely necessary for you to know the ins and outs of staining and grinding since these processes are related to this in many ways.

Research is crucial

Next, you should know which equipment and machines are necessary. Since decorative concrete gives the best results when polished and installed fresh, it is important for you to know which methods exist in the industry. Before you start your own concrete polishing business, you should have a clear picture about polishing and decorating existing concrete flooring and installing new flooring from scratch. The decorative process, too, must be studied at length before you start your own business.

Licensing

Once you have done an adequate amount of research on the processes involved in cement decoration and polished cement, it is essential for you to know the rules and regulations of your area before you start your own business. It is very likely that you might require licensing before you start your business. Whenever people need concrete to be polished, they often look for a contractor who is not only licensed and experienced but also bonded. This is important since installation is a complicated process.

A bonded contractor will not only ensure that the task is completed, but clients will not even have to worry about any damages caused due to negligence since they will be covered by the business. Insurance, too, is necessary since your clients will be at ease that they will be provided with quality services without any damages.

Equipment

When starting this business, having the right equipment is crucial. This equipment includes machinery to collect concrete dust, an upright concrete polisher, and even a handheld polisher for surfaces which are small. Additionally, it is always a good idea to have epoxy and stains in supply when you start your own concrete business.

Advertising

Once you have all of the knowledge and equipment to set up your concrete polishing business, advertising is what you will need to focus on. In addition to online advertising on forums and through websites and blogs, it is important to use your store front to your advantage. Advertising in local newspapers and on local television channels is also a great way to get your business known by people. It is also extremely important to keep in touch with professionals of the industry since they will be able to help you a great deal owing to their experience.

Doing Business in Vietnam: Understanding the Cultural Differences

Introduction

In today’s global business environment with your business it is important to have some understanding of the people and the culture that you have intentions of doing business.

The better prepared you are, the more successful your business negotiations are likely to be, “to be forewarned, is to be forearmed”, it’s your choice.

I have included some basic strategies and options that if properly used will enhance and improve your level of success. These suggestions are based on a number of years of personal business experience, in the real world with real people. Taking this approach works and I can assure you, it works well.

Topics

1. Family Culture

2. Reputation – “Saving face”

3. Name Structure

4. Greetings

5. Bribery and Corruption

6. Gift Giving

7. Standard Working Practices

8. Business Meetings – preparation

9. Business Meetings – what to expect

10. Business Culture – communication

11. Asking Questions

12. Festivals/Holidays

13. Compliments

14. Social Gatherings

15. Superstitions

16. Other – Traditional Vietnamese customs

17. Summary

Although with today’s technology we can conduct much of our business online, in this type of scenario, it can only take you so far. There is no substitute for actually being there, in person and immersing yourself in the local environment.

I believe we often lose sight of the fact that technology is just a tool that can help us to do our job, the true nature of business, is all about people.

1. Family Culture

The first step in getting a handle on how to do business in Vietnam is to understand what the prevailing dynamics are that defines the parameters of their social structure. By having some familiarity with these basic cultural aspects of Vietnamese society and by using a little empathy, we can start to understand the key elements that are the mainstay of their society and in turn how it defines and influences their business culture.

– Chinese Confucianism plays a very big role in their philosophical beliefs and in their daily life

– Elder’s are generally revered and their life experiences are held in high esteem within the family

– It becomes self evident why you see a number of generations of a family living under one roof

– The male makes the final decision for most, if not all matters, the traditional ideal of male superiority is still in place today

– The eldest son of a family is seen as the head of household, and in this case, the elder is usually seen as a role model

– Worshipping of ancestors is common place, as they are seen as the source of life, fortunes, and a key tenant that upholds their family culture

– Their ancestors are honoured and on the day of their death they often perform special ceremonies and rituals, to the Vietnamese their deceased elders are considered the wellspring of their very existence

– Birthdays are not generally celebrated by traditional Vietnamese families

– Vietnam is basically a collectivist society in which the needs of the group are often placed over that of the individual, this holds particularly true in the family values context

– Family and community concerns will almost always come before business or individual needs

– The family ethos plays a very important, central role in Vietnamese society

– Families, extended families and communities can have a major influence on an individual family members behaviour whether they be children or adults

The essence of “family” is one of the most important characteristics of Vietnamese culture, “family” is everything. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Vietnam is also a patriarchal type of society in regard to the family ethos. A similar sort of hierarchy is in place in most Vietnamese companies to varying degrees.

Vietnamese society is rapidly changing, as the country opens up, as the society becomes more affluent, the Vietnamese are over time becoming more “western-like” in nature. Some of the long held family traditions are starting to slip away.

As the younger generations are exposed to more and more western culture, some of those long-held traditional family values are being eroded and the western mind-set and culture is fast becoming more prevalent.

2. Reputation – “Saving Face”

The concept of saving “face”, occurs all over Asia, in some cases it is the overriding factor in everything they do. Today in some of the more developed Asian countries this mind-set is not as strictly adhered to as it once was.

– The concept of saving face is still extremely important

– Reputation confers dignity and the prestige of a person and by virtue that persons family

– Particularly with the Vietnamese it is ingrained into their very psyche, “reputation” is seen as the only thing that can be left behind for one’s family after death

As the younger, more educated generations, start to make their presence felt in their own cultures, these changes will become more pronounced. Some of these types of traditional beliefs are starting to take a small step back, however do not underestimate how much impact; “reputation” will have on your business negotiations in Vietnam.

3. Name Structure

– Names are written in the following order: 1. Family name. 2. Middle name and 3. Given name (Christian name)

– The family name is placed first because it emphasises the person’s heritage, the family, as mentioned previously, “family” is everything

– The middle name “Thi” indicates that the person is female, “Van” indicates that the person is male

4. Greetings

– For more important occasions, use the family name, middle name and finally the given name

– Using the word “Thua” which means “please” being polite rates you more highly in their eyes

– Addressing a person older or higher ranking than you just by name is considered disrespectful; even within the family or in relative relationships, always include their title with their first name

– Generally women do not shake hands with each other or with men; they bow slightly to each other

– If it comes to age versus rank, higher ranking people are usually greeted first

5. Bribery and Corruption

Be aware that various forms of it exist at all levels within Vietnamese society; it is an integral part of their culture and has been for a long time. One of the main reasons this occurs, is that the “standard” wages in a lot of business sectors in Vietnam is very low, this also includes government departments. At the lower end of the scale, monthly salaries can be as low as $100 (US) per month.

– Recommended resource: Transparency International

Corruptions Perceptions index for 2012, which covers 174 countries, the higher the number, the more corrupt a country is perceived to be:

o Vietnam – 123

o Cambodia – 157

o Laos – 160

o Myanmar – 172

– Recommended resource: Tuoitre News (English language news site for Vietnam)

This is generally acknowledged to be a sensitive area, from an ethics point of view, you will need to make your own decisions. Some sectors of business are different to others, it pays to be informed. All I can suggest is to do a decent amount of research, from that you can draw your own conclusions and make informed decisions.

I suggest that your research be focussed on understanding the “how” and “where” of commissions. Somewhere along the line, you will be paying commissions, whether you know it, or not. You need to know where this is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and most importantly, what it is going to cost, be prepared.

Ensure that when you do business in Vietnam you get as close to the source as possible, if you are sourcing products, only deal with the manufacturers.

The further away you are from the people that can actually do the job, the more it will cost, as everybody involved has to get their commission, which you will be paying.

6. Gift Giving

Gift giving is a common practice in Vietnam and is not seen as any sort of bribery; these thank-you gifts do not need to be expensive and should be seen as a small token of your appreciation.

It can be surprising how genuinely thankful the Vietnamese can be when you present them with small gifts, it puts you in good stead for further negotiations, there are a few options available.

– Flowers

– Chocolates/candy

– Fruit

One of the most effective gifts that you can give them, are small souvenirs that represent your home country. For example if you are from Australia buy a dozen or so, small key-rings, with kangaroo’s, koalas, boomerang’s etc, they only cost a few dollars each.

Go to the lengths of wrapping them up in a box with bright wrapping paper. This sort of approach will earn you loads of “brownie-points”, far more than what it cost you to purchase these types of gifts, it is a terrific investment for the future

7. Standard Working Practices

Standard business hours apply, 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday in the larger cities. Some corporate offices and Government departments are open for a half-day on Saturday. In regional areas, hours may differ and shops may close over the lunchtime period for an hour or more.

– When conducting your business in major cities in Vietnam, English is quite widely spoken by Vietnamese business people. Do not automatically make the assumption that their English is going to be good enough to give you the all information you require

– The further out you go into the regional areas and provinces, the more difficult it is to find these small family run businesses and the less English is spoken. Therefore plan your trip well to cover any eventuality

If in any doubt, hire a translator and save yourself a lot of headaches. Finding the right translator for you is very important and it is not an easy process. I would suggest here, that you get your translator to sign one of your company confidentiality agreements.

One copy in English and one in Vietnamese, get them to sign both copies and make sure you give them a copy of both and keep the originals for your records. You need to be absolutely certain that the translator you have hired is on your side, not theirs (commission).

8. Business Meetings (preparation)

Vietnamese business people prefer to schedule business meetings well in advance, several weeks ahead is not uncommon, this holds especially true when they know you are visiting from another country. They will do a lot of preparing for these types of meetings; you should be doing the same.

– The 1st meeting in many ways, is the most important, you can use your agenda, as a starting point for your key discussion items. Minutes, take notes, document all decisions, actions, timeframes etc

– Prior to the meeting I would recommend that you also supply a written agenda in point form (a list), outlining very specifically your objectives, the how, what, where, when, who etc

– Within 24 hours of the meeting taking place, send your official business minutes to all the individuals that attended the meeting

– Keep in mind you have the option of arranging your initial meeting(s), at the hotel you will be staying. This can save a lot of hassle if you don’t know your way around. You also have the advantage of being on “neutral” territory and you may not have to deal with as many people in your first round of discussions

– Later on, when you’ve narrowed down your selection, you can then arrange meetings at their premises. This is absolutely mandatory, before you make the decision who to do business (How will you know that the business they are showing you is actually theirs?)

– Find out beforehand exactly who will be at the meeting, find out their names and titles and try to send your agenda to them directly from you. Rather than relying on one person in their organisation to distribute your agenda to the right people internally

– If you really want to impress them you could; a) get the agenda translated into Vietnamese, and/or b) bring a translator to the meeting. If you do this, do not tell them beforehand you are bringing one

– Always assume that the other parties’ command of the English language (conversation) will not be as good as their ability to read English

As they say, “the-devil-is-in-the-detail”, by taking the time and effort to go to this level of detail you will achieve a lot more, in a shorter time frame.

1. It will give you some control over the events taking place

2. You will impress them and as a result gain much respect (“face”)

3. You will be able to move your negotiations along a lot faster

4. You have made a framework that both parties understand and can work within

Most importantly, you have provided a “non-confrontational” way to tackle any ensuing issues or delicate problems, its now about the issue, not the person.

9. Business Meetings (what to expect)

Punctuality is extremely important; it pays to be on time to meetings, do not take any chances. Some places can be very difficult to find, plan to be at the location of the meeting 15-20 minutes beforehand. It gives you time to focus and allows you to take in your surrounding environment.

– When first at the meeting watch carefully the seating arrangement, this will give you some indication of the internal pecking order

– Do not be surprised if the most senior person at the meeting does not chair the meeting. If you have taken the approach I suggest, at this point you have a subtle level of control, make the most of it, and handle it very delicately

– The person most likely to conduct the meeting is the person that speaks and understands English the best, but it is highly unlikely that this person will be the actual decision maker

– When at the meeting, never a say a flat “no” to anything, the best response is something like; “yes, I’ll have to go away, and think about that one” or “yes, but I will need to confer with my work colleagues back home” or “I don’t have the authority to make that decision”

– When they ask, “How long are you here for”, do not divulge this information. Answer the question with something like, “When I have concluded all my business, I will then return home”, or “When I have completed my assignment, I can return home”

Always smile, even when you’re saying no, or if you’re confused or not sure. If anything “out of the blue” suddenly appears, something completely unsuspected, take careful note of what it is. Make sure you ascertain the ramifications of this new information, before moving on to the other items in your agenda.

10. Business Culture (communication)

Vietnamese companies tend to be very hierarchical in nature; the most senior person in the business usually carries the most influence in the decision-making process. Titles are very important in the Vietnamese business culture as status is gained by education and age.

There is great deference and respect paid to fellow work colleagues, supervisors and managers, some key points to keep in mind.

– Business relationships in Vietnam are relatively formal and tend to take time to develop as Vietnamese like to get to know their foreign counterparts before conducting business

– Vietnamese may be suspicious of those who they do not know very well at first, so be sure to spend the time during the first few meetings to get better acquainted

– It is important to use titles whenever possible, you are showing respect and you are gaining “face” while doing it

– When referring to one another, Vietnamese people use a person’s title followed by their first name, not their surname (e.g.; Mr John)

– It may be advisable to have all written documents translated into Vietnamese as your business counterparts in Vietnam will not necessarily indicate that they do not fully understand you. If you are not sure what their true English language capability is, hiring a translator may prove a very worthwhile option

– Like most Asian countries business cards are a commonly used in Vietnam; it is considered good business etiquette to have your business cards printed in both English and Vietnamese

– When offering your business card for the first time, present it using both hands with the Vietnamese language side facing up and towards the person you are offering

– Negotiations can be quite lengthy and time-consuming as the Vietnamese will want to examine everything as well as consulting their own group before reaching any agreement

– Doing business in Vietnam can also be quite slow as there is often a lot of bureaucracy to go through before a deal can be finalised. Make sure all official (government) documentation is correctly filled-in, it is stamped and certified by all the relevant government agencies

– Most Vietnamese tend to hide their feelings, avoid conflict and confrontation, in order to avoid hurting or embarrassing anyone. For example, a ‘Yes’ may not actually be an affirmative answer, but it could be a polite reply used to avoid hurting the feelings of the person in question (You really need to be able to tell the difference)

– The Vietnamese usually smile when they do not want to answer an embarrassing question or when they do not want to offend the person involved

– The Vietnamese will smile when being scolded by a person senior in age or status to show them that they still respect the persons scolding and do not hold any grudge. (This pattern of behaviour can be interpreted as challenging or insulting to a westerner, but the reality is, it is part of their nature and it is a cultural norm)

A word about non-verbal communication be careful when interpreting Vietnamese body language, hand gestures, tone-of-voice, and facial expressions. The assumptions and deductions you may make as a westerner based on your prior experience, are in all likelihood somewhat off the mark.

They may use the same sort of gestures, but some of these gestures you are familiar with, may mean something altogether different to the Vietnamese.

Finally, when wrapping-up a meeting, always end on a positive note, a little bit of well placed flattery goes a long, and always remember, smile, smile, smile… ï��

11. Asking Questions

When a Vietnamese person asks you questions, for them it is not considered offensive or rude in their culture to ask personal questions regarding age, marital status, salary, religion, etc.

Make the opportunity to find out whatever you can about the people you are dealing with, have some informal, casual conversations and ask the following types of questions.

– Single or married, do you have children, ages, sex etc?

– What qualifications do you have, degrees, where did you go to Uni etc?

– Have you been overseas, where, what did you do etc?

– How long have you been working for this company?

Keep the discussion light and breezy, this sort of inquiry serves a number of useful purposes; you are establishing some rapport and comfort with the other players, you get some idea of their capability, and you can subtly find out who speaks the best English.

12. Festivals/Holidays

Tet, around this time of year the country practically “shuts-down” and although it’s officially a four day holiday, these holidays can start earlier and they can go on longer. I would suggest that a week prior to “Tet” and a week after, there is little point in attempting to schedule meetings and conduct business.

For Many Vietnamese, this holiday is extremely important; they all try to get together under one roof as a family unit to celebrate the “Chinese” New Year.

– Lunar New Year, is the most important yearly festival

– This is the first day of the lunar calendar year

Tet Trung Thu

– Tet Trung Thu is held on the fifteenth day of the 8th month, the mid-Autumn festival

13. Compliments

The Vietnamese do not say “thank you” very often, because it is considered insincere. When they do, they really mean it, and this form of gratitude can last a lifetime. They will not be happy until they can somehow find a way to repay the kindness you have shown them.

14. Social Gatherings

In the social context, when referring to one another, the term “brother” or “sister” is often used.

This term is a sign of respect; it is the younger members in the group that are subtly acknowledging the people older than them, by referring to them as their “brother” or “sister”.

If a Vietnamese person refers to a westerner as a “brother” or “sister”, in casual conversations at social gatherings, you have by your very actions earned their respect. That in itself is a huge win; you need to congratulate yourself, because you’re doing exceptionally well.

In social situations and informal gatherings, whoever is the oldest present, is the person that is automatically considered the leader.

15. Superstitions

The Vietnamese are very superstitious people; a good example of this is the “owl”, in western society it is usually perceived as a symbol of wisdom or being wise. To the Vietnamese the owl is a bad omen, a harbinger of death.

Whatever happens do not become a “bad” omen to them; if the Vietnamese business people you are dealing with see you as being “lucky”, they will go to great lengths to secure not only your business, but your friendship as well.

16. Other Traditional Vietnamese Customs (useful to know)

Friendships are highly valued, especially between close friends, they are often regarded as blood relatives; overall most Vietnamese are warm, friendly and hospitable.

– When a child is born, it is considered to be one year old

– When women marry, they don’t change their name

– It is the eldest sons filial duty to perform ancestor worship at home

– If a parent dies, the children customarily wait three years before marrying

– If a spouse dies, one should wait one year before remarrying

– If a sibling dies, the other siblings should wait one year before marrying

17. Summary

If you have serious intentions of doing business in Vietnam, there is no substitute for actually being there “in-situ”, viscerally in touch with the local environment. Take a little time to get acclimatised, get the “feel” of the place, the sights, the sounds, the smells.

It pays to explore and move around on foot, stopping here and there and watching the Vietnamese people going about their daily lives. It’s not just what they do, but far more telling, is the actual way that they do it.

Finally, don’t forget the networking, get out on the streets, and find westerners that live or work in Vietnam. Strike up a conversation with them, you will be amazed the wealth of knowledge and experience these sort of people have accumulated. In the right circumstances you may be able to tap into their network, now that’s time and effort well spent over a beer.

Wishing you, dear reader the best of luck with your business negotiations and I hope that this article has provided you with some useful insights that will make your business negotiations in Vietnam easier and more effective.

Many thanks for reading this article.

Risks in International Business

Just as there are reasons to get into global markets, and benefits from global markets, there are also risks involved in locating companies in certain countries. Each country may have its potentials; it also has its woes that are associated with doing business with major companies. Some of the rogue countries may have all the natural minerals but the risks involved in doing business in those countries exceed the benefits. Some of the risks in international business are:

(1) Strategic Risk

(2) Operational Risk

(3) Political Risk

(4) Country Risk

(5) Technological Risk

(6) Environmental Risk

(7) Economic Risk

(8) Financial Risk

(9) Terrorism Risk

Strategic Risk: The ability of a firm to make a strategic decision in order to respond to the forces that are a source of risk. These forces also impact the competitiveness of a firm. Porter defines them as: threat of new entrants in the industry, threat of substitute goods and services, intensity of competition within the industry, bargaining power of suppliers, and bargaining power of consumers.

Operational Risk: This is caused by the assets and financial capital that aid in the day-to-day business operations. The breakdown of machineries, supply and demand of the resources and products, shortfall of the goods and services, lack of perfect logistic and inventory will lead to inefficiency of production. By controlling costs, unnecessary waste will be reduced, and the process improvement may enhance the lead-time, reduce variance and contribute to efficiency in globalization.

Political Risk: The political actions and instability may make it difficult for companies to operate efficiently in these countries due to negative publicity and impact created by individuals in the top government. A firm cannot effectively operate to its full capacity in order to maximize profit in such an unstable country’s political turbulence. A new and hostile government may replace the friendly one, and hence expropriate foreign assets.

Country Risk: The culture or the instability of a country may create risks that may make it difficult for multinational companies to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently. Some of the country risks come from the governments’ policies, economic conditions, security factors, and political conditions. Solving one of these problems without all of the problems (aggregate) together will not be enough in mitigating the country risk.

Technological Risk: Lack of security in electronic transactions, the cost of developing new technology, and the fact that these new technology may fail, and when all of these are coupled with the outdated existing technology, the result may create a dangerous effect in doing business in the international arena.

Environmental Risk: Air, water, and environmental pollution may affect the health of the citizens, and lead to public outcry of the citizens. These problems may also lead to damaging the reputation of the companies that do business in that area.

Economic Risk: This comes from the inability of a country to meet its financial obligations. The changing of foreign-investment or/and domestic fiscal or monetary policies. The effect of exchange-rate and interest rate make it difficult to conduct international business.

Financial Risk: This area is affected by the currency exchange rate, government flexibility in allowing the firms to repatriate profits or funds outside the country. The devaluation and inflation will also impact the firm’s ability to operate at an efficient capacity and still be stable. Most countries make it difficult for foreign firms to repatriate funds thus forcing these firms to invest its funds at a less optimal level. Sometimes, firms’ assets are confiscated and that contributes to financial losses.

Terrorism Risk: These are attacks that may stem from lack of hope; confidence; differences in culture and religious philosophy, and/or merely hate of companies by citizens of host countries. It leads to potential hostile attitudes, sabotage of foreign companies and/or kidnapping of the employers and employees. Such frustrating situations make it difficult to operate in these countries.

Although the benefits in international business exceed the risks, firms should take a risk assessment of each country and to also include intellectual property, red tape and corruption, human resource restrictions, and ownership restrictions in the analysis, in order to consider all risks involved before venturing into any of the countries.

Should You Start Your Own Electrician Business? – Pros and Cons

Just about anyone would love to start their own business. The thought of being able to call the shots and work on your own really sounds great on the surface, but becoming an electrician is a far more difficult task than most people think. It takes years of dedication and learning to become licensed and to become a credible business is a whole other struggle.

Here are the Pros of why you should start you own electrician business:

• Potential Income – Electricians can make anywhere from $40 – $100 dollars an hour and the electrician business is one of the fastest growing businesses in the United States. For you this means there is going to be plenty of money to make if you can become licensed and insured.

• Self Employed – The great thing about become an electrician is the fact you can run your own business with your own rules. You can work from your home or office as long as you have all the materials needed to perform services.

• Tax Benefits – There are a lot of tax benefits of running your own business. The government will literally give you money for start-up costs. The schooling you need will be costly and the government will help out with a portion of that as well.

Here are the Cons of why you shouldn’t start you own electrician business:

• Apprenticeship – It takes years of being an apprentice to a licensed electrician to be able to become one of your own. Some people just don’t have the drive to make it through the years of schooling and apprenticeship that it takes to become licensed in this business.

• Dangerous – Electricians have the possibility of being electrocuted and killed if the right voltage is discharged. There are stories all over the internet about electricians accidentally getting hurt or even worse, killed on jobs where something went wrong. This is a very dangerous job that has high risks of injury. Keep this in mind if you have children or people that rely on you on a regular basis.

• Competition – The competition is this field is high but if you are licensed and insured, you will set yourself apart from a high percentage of the electricians marketing themselves online or on Craigslist. Most of the electricians that you will find on Craigslist, might say they are licensed but they really aren’t. I suggest that when you get your license, you display it on your ads and website, so people know that you are licensed and insured right away.

Becoming an electrician is not an easy task but if you stay motivated, finish your schooling and apprenticeship, and get licensed and insured, it is very likely that you can become successful in this business.