As global markets have become highly saturated recently, entrepreneurs are starting to explore new business avenues. Lately, Japan has become a prominent hub for international business owners. Even though the country has experienced a few ups and downs, it is now the world’s second-largest economy. In addition, Japan is home to many global giants such as Toyota, Sony, etc.
Japan also has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, reflecting consumers’ increased purchasing power. Further, its solid economy coupled with low fluctuating currency attracts many investors. After all, it promises stability, growth, and economic confidence. So, how about you step into the Japanese market? Tokyo being the capital of Japan, offers lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities. It houses recognizable companies, such as Nintendo and Canon, opening doors to innovation.
Starting a business in another region can be a bit complicated despite having a well-defined structure. You must be on top of everything from getting visas to fulfilling legal technicalities. Most importantly, blend in with people to understand their culture and meet their demands. Let us show you the ropes if you are ready for this endeavor. Here we have outlined five tips to start a business in Tokyo.
1. Conduct market research
Most brands enter new markets and figure out things as they operate. It might seem viable, but it mostly leads to failure. After all, you don’t know what prevails in Japanese markets, and without consumer knowledge, it is impossible to cater to them. To give your business the best chance at success, conduct market research beforehand. Begin by finding if there is a demand for your product in Japan. You can roll out surveys on social media or conduct paper research.
After this, understand the competitive landscape in Tokyo to gauge the overall demand for your product and service. For this, you can look for an event venue Tokyo, hosting a trade show. It will give you an insight into the market, unfolding what consumers prefer, pricing, and way of doing business.
Lastly, it would be best if you researched Japanese consumers. Are they price-sensitive? Do they prefer quality over quantity? Answering these questions will enable you to align your product offerings accordingly. In addition, find out what kind of customer service customers like to offer the best customer experience.
2. Secure a visa
Japan doesn’t allow every other foreign national to set up a business. You must obtain the required visas and documentation to begin your entrepreneurial journey in this business hub. For doing business, you can get a business manager visa, a startup visa, or an investor visa. Look below to determine how the requirements for each one vary.
- Business Manager Visa: Japan introduced this business manager visa almost four years back. To acquire this, you must prove that you are in the process of launching a company in Japan. For this, you must prepare all documents, including a detailed business plan. Once you obtain the visa, you will get access to a residence card, and you can also open a business bank account.
- Start-Up Visa: Japan’s government has embarked on this initiative to bring foreign entrepreneurs to Japan, specifically Tokyo. It is a 6-month visa; you can extend this for another six months. However, you have to get a recommendation letter from the local government office to obtain this visa.
- Investor Visa: It is another way to do business in Japan, but the visa tenure is up to 5 years. But that depends on business profitability and metrics. If your business runs into losses the following year, the visa won’t get extended any further.
3. Rent an office space
The next step is to start looking for an office space. After all, you will need room to work, procure inventory, and conduct routine operations. In Tokyo, you have two options, rent an office space or secure a shared space. If you plan to rent an office, keep it short-term as it has flexible lease terms, leading to low-startup costs. However, the only drawback is that you must set up the office from scratch. The startup costs can be extremely high, from buying furniture to installing an HVAC system.
Another option is to opt for co-working or shared space. It has an interior design catering to office needs. Whether you need a conference room or cubicles for employees, it has everything ready. Hence, you can get started with your operations from day one.
4. Prepare articles of incorporation
Every company, whether local or foreign, must submit articles of incorporation, also known as ‘teikan.’ These are more like the bread and butter of setting up a business in Tokyo. These documents will compile your business policies and standards, reflecting how you plan to manage the company.
The first thing you must submit is the parent’s company registry certificate. Next, get a notarized signature attestation of the parent company’s representative and a seal certificate for every director. All the articles of incorporation and other documents must have the signatures of the board of directors. Besides this, you might need a field-specific license to register and run your company.
5. Learn the business decorum
Japanese people are known for their etiquette and culture. Thus, any foreigner starting a business here must understand how the Japanese do business. Look below.
- Business attire is conservative yet smart. So whenever deciding what to wear for a business meeting, avoid black. Remember, it is a funeral color in Japan; you can wear grey, blue, or brown suits.
- Introduce yourself formally during every meeting, followed by a self-introduction. State your full name, company, and designation. Also, don’t forget to show respect by bowing, as this is the most common gesture.
- Always carry a business card along. You can print the cards in English on one side and Japanese on the other. Besides this, you must hand over the business card with both hands, keeping the Japanese side up.
Japanese businessmen add ‘San’ to a colleague’s name when addressing them, regardless of gender or marital status. Hence, you must ensure to follow your colleague’s name by San.
As Japan is becoming a focal business point, many entrepreneurs are eager to enter this market. But before that, you must prepare to set the business for success. Understand the market dynamics and learn about consumer preferences. Likewise, follow the legal procedures and documents explicitly to register your business. And most importantly, get familiar with the Japanese culture to blend in with the people. That way, you can cater to their demands and grow your company.