Whatever be the reasons, for an outsider trying to do business with Indians, the journey can be both frustrating and entertaining (if you have a sense of humor). As India grows, the sheer size of the economy will ensure that most of you (or your companies) will eventually do business in India or with Indians.Here are a few tips for the beginners:
1. Be aware of the country size and expect to travel all over India to do business
India is the size of Europe and is made up of 19 states, many of which are so large they could be considered countries in themselves.
Remember that you can’t do business in one city simply because there is not enough to do, but instead you have to go to five cities if you want to capture the market.
And Cities aren’t the only places for opportunity. India has a massive rural population despite the rate of urbanisation, and it represents a large potential market.
2 Show some interest in cricket
The intensity of Indians’ love for cricket is as incomprehensible as its feverish degree. Millions in India, a country of 1.3 billion people and only one nationally popular game, celebrated wildly. When India’s national side plays a big game, an estimated 500 million watch on television.
The Indian Premier League, or IPL, is a relatively new league and in 2018 was valued at $5.3 billion (5 times more than the MLB), according to financial advisory firm Duff & Phelps.
So if you are an outsider, you should practice up to on how to hit the ball properly or at least you better watch some cricket on television, it might be useful…
3 Nothing is personal but personal relationships matter
For Westerners, some topics are out of bounds in a business setting. But don’t be surprised if an Indian starts asking about your kids, your parents, how many cars you have. Their concept of privacy is slightly different.
It’s fine if you don’t want to share this “personal” info, instead of being offended try to see the funny side or take advantage of it to connect socially and emotionally. If you are about to embark upon an important partnership or contract negotiation, get to know your Indian partner and start off by getting to know their family. It’s important to do this and will work well for you in the future.
4 Be patient
Time is plentiful in India and if things don’t happen today, there is always tomorrow.
Possibly, the concept of timelessness and life after-life has something to do with it, but a 11 am meeting will normally begin around 11:15. It isn’t considered rude to turn up late for appointments. Dinner time in India also tends to be late.
You could either get upset, or even more frustrated trying to enforce discipline. Or you just could get with the flow.
5 You don’t need the perfect handshake
In Western culture, you need to have a perfect handshake, in India it doesn’t really matter and they won’t read anything into a soft handshake. They are definitely more relaxed about that.
Another thing, nobody is getting terribly upset if you do so but normally you shouldn’t shake hands with women.
6. “The Argumentative Indian”
This is very often true, and not just the title of a book by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen! If you give them a chance, they will argue about everything, and get stuck on minor irrelevant issues. Meetings can be catastrophic in such situations – be sure to have someone moving things along and after you’ve allowed for as much debate as you can stand. Try to get decisions to a Yes/No on major points… otherwise “the argumentative Indian” will be more than happy to moan endlessly on trivial issues.
7. Remember Chess was invented in India
Always keep in mind that early forms of chess originated in India around the 6th century AD. One ancestor was chaturanga, a popular four-player war game that prefigured several key aspects of modern chess.
In those times, The Indian Rajah (king) believed that war was the most effective school in which to learn the values of valour, decision-making, endurance,circumspection and bravery…
India has the potential for very rapid economic growth over the next decade, so it would be a great idea to find a way to do business in India.