Published 14 October 2016 Category: Compass Tips

Thinking of expanding to Asia? Check this list before making the jump

Whether you’re thinking of relocating to Asia to start your own business or looking for a base in Asia to run your current business, there are many aspects to consider before making the move. Asia is a huge region with tremendous opportunity and it can be daunting to think of where to start.  

It’s an attractive option, as the benefits of  having an office presence in the APAC region are tremendous.  If you’re looking for inspiration and thinking seriously of relocating yourself or your business to Asia, check off this list before booking that plane ticket!

Prioritize your needs

If you know you want to find an office base in Asia but you’re unsure which Asian city to call home, prioritize your needs. Are you looking to get established in Asia so you can grow your team in numbers? Then Hong Kong, where real estate is expensive, might not be for you. Are you looking for low costs with a relatively high quality of living? Look into Vietnam, where convenience is cheap and the city zooms around on motorbikes. Knowing what your needs are and what is important can help you weed out countries that are a definite no.

Research the culture extensively before you go

While this is obvious, but means more than just a quick Wikipedia search.  Aside from just business, consider the country’s religious values, language and average annual income. If you prefer being in a country where you understand the language and can get around without Google translating everything,  prioritize countries like Malaysia and Singapore, where locals speak English. If you want to deeply immerse yourself in the culture with language being a challenge to embrace, consider high tech countries like Korea or Japan. 

Make sure technology works in your favor when you’re there

What technology do you need on a day-to-day basis and what do you need to grow your business? If you are dependent on fast Internet without having to use a VPN, China might not be your greatest option. But if you’re OK with the great firewall in exchange for the versatility of perhaps one of the world’s most advanced payment systems on WeChat, consider the mainland. Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest internet speeds, but this again comes at a high (cost) of living.  

Meet up with locals

If you’re thinking of starting a business in Asia, you must work with locals and do as the locals do. Successful companies understand how to adapt their business models to fit the local situation as much as they can, and this involves getting to know locals. It is helpful also to befriend locals to get an inside scoop of the culture and how things work.

Know the competitors, allies and regulations of the country you have your hopes set on

Whatever service you’re bringing into the country – whether it’s yourself or your brand – chances are something similar already exists. Thus, know both the competitors in your area and also the regulations you’re facing. If you’re starting a food delivery service for example, research what exists in the market – is there enough space to compete with foodpanda or Deliveroo? Are there any potential startups or companies you can partner up with?
To research regulations, it’s easy to get in touch with government organizations in each country, like Hong Kong’s InvestHK which offers useful tips and visa guidance for startups, or Singapore’s equivalent, the Enterprise Development Board.

Lastly, Compass Offices has offices across Asia – so if you’re still stuck in a quandary, read up on our business stories across the globe here and contact us to find out more about our service!