I spent last week in Singapore and was (again) pleasantly surprised by the hospitality and the kindness of others. Everyone works hard in Singapore. It's a booming business hub with a culturally diverse and ambitious workforce. And Singapore is special. Excellent restaurants, high-end shopping, and interesting tourist attractions including their world renowned night safari.
But what about the ins and outs of doing business in Singapore?
I had a recent conversation with Alison Eyring, founder and CEO of Organisation Solutions, a growth consultancy she founded in Singapore in 2000. Alison's had great success expanding her business globally and she was nice enough to share her top 7 secrets for success in Singapore:
Assume that the stereotypes you read in cross-cultural books are largely out of date. Instead, be a good observer and take your cues on norms from your customer or partner.
Know your market.
The local and multinational markets of Singapore are radically different. Be clear which you are targeting and adapt accordingly.
Understand the national agenda and the implications for your company; it could be an asset or liability for you.
Show your respect.
Be confident in what you are doing, but always demonstrate respect and some humility. When negotiating (particularly on price), be persistent but be nice about it. Don't make the other party feel angry or embarrassed.
Don't jump to conclusions.
Don't make assumptions about wealth or status based on dress or how well someone speaks English.
Use your gut.
Whenever possible, eat local food with a business partner or prospective partner. This is the national pastime and the surest way to friendship.
Reframe your thinking.
When you start to hire people, learn how to lead in a different way. What works in your home country may not be a good fit here.
Doing business in Asia generally requires more time for relationship-building overall; extending yourself personally will go far. Listening and learning about the culture, society and individuals is the most important step towards being successful globally.
You can read more about working across cultures in my book on #BridgingCultures. A free download is here.