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How to do business in Thailand - four steps you need to know

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by Startacus Admin

business in Thailand

Looking to start doing business in Thailand? That’s great,
 the Thai economy is growing faster than anticipated so it’s a good time to take advantage of this. - but you need to know a few things first in order to become successful with your trading. Out of everyone I know who has been successful in Thailand there’s one thing that unites them all - they learned how to understand the business culture of the country and have adapted to it. Doing business in Thailand is often based on the very first impression that you present to people. Body language and courtesy are hugely important, and if you don’t pay attention to these things you could be scuppering your chances of a good working relationship before it’s even off the ground. So that you can avoid this - take a look at these four tips for doing business in Thailand.

Your presence is important

If you’re hoping to fly in and fly out to do some business, or you want to rely solely on a Skype meeting - you might be up against some resistance here. You cannot simply rely on a local partner or representative to step in and do the work for you, because in order for you to come across as genuine you need to be present. The people with whom you are hoping to trade will want to know whether you want to put in the personal work to build a relationship - something that is required for the success of your business deal. In addition to this, the family unit is pivotal to the Thai community and is very strong in many areas. As a result there is a hierarchy which is present in the country. When you meet someone they will try to place you within a hierarchy - simply so that they know how to treat you and interact with you.  

How you present is important

As a largely Buddhist people, Thai people place a lot of importance of being courteous. Being modest and not embarrassing others is a huge part of Thai culture. Any attempts that you might make to criticise other people publicly, or to be angry are considered to be a loss of face in this situation. Thai people will use a smile to deflect their embarrassment - but don’t misinterpret this. While smiling indicates relaxation and friendliness it might not always be an entirely positive thing that is being presented. Do be sure to smile back though. When you’re giving a business card be sure to present it with both hands, facing up and with the characters facing your counterpart. When you receive a card, once again take it with both hands and be sure to comment on some feature of it - even if it’s to acknowledge the address. On this - it’s important to have a good address for your business in Thailand, and if you’re a start up the best way to get this is to invest in a Virtual Office as a means to enjoy the prestige without the pricetag.

Be patient

A business relationship will develop slowly in Thailand. You might find that it takes several meetings over several months to get results. Once you have the partnership though, it will be something that is worth it. You need to be respected and to be courteous, and to ensure that you watch your nonverbal communication, something that is just as important as your verbal communication. Be on time for things and always respect the hierarchy of the Thai business model - it will be something that will go on to work in your favour eventually as you fit into it.

Have perspective

While in the west we like to get to the point and move on quickly, the Thais value a relationship and honour over speed of dealings. If you’re not willing to invest the time in your Thai business then you might consider how successful you’re going to be!

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Published on: 28th July 2016

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