10 top tips from the Go East event with Alibaba Cloud

by Lauren Davis
Published on February 2019

JAM talk about cloud support to crowdLast Thursday morning, we held an event in conjunction with Alibaba Cloud. It was designed to be an informative session for leaders of digital agencies looking to grow into Asia. We invited key expert speakers to offer their advice on the topic:

  • Chris Lethbridge from the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC)
  • Sarah Vick, Non-Executive Chair & Board Advisor
  • Sam Booth, CEO at Just After Midnight
  • Abrar Ahmed, Business Development Manager (Europe) at Alibaba Cloud

If you couldn’t make it, here’s our top 10 tips we learnt from the event:

    1. “It’s not impossible, it is not time consuming, it is not expensive” to crack Asia, according to our CEO Sam. At the end of the day, China and other Asian countries are not that different from Europe. The key is to follow the correct processes, and you will be fine. If you want to learn more about making it in China, read our previous article on the topic.
    2. Understand the visa and immigration situation back to front. This is essential before taking a team out to another country. It is worth hiring or speaking to an expert for advice.
    3. Think carefully about the suitability of each location. Sarah Vick explained that the decision of opening an office in another country should be strategic rather than tactical. She gave an example of an agency who opened an office in Thailand following a win of 1 large client in the country. Even though it was a good story to tell, they found growth challenging due to great language barriers, complexities of setting up a business in Thailand and hiring struggles. This would have been much more successful if this expansion was part of the overall vision and mission for the business.
    4. Be aware of the cultural differences and adapting to the local norms. This includes language (even in English speaking Singapore, you may find that picking up some basic “Singlish” will deem very useful), but also local customs that will make business meetings and encounters run more smoothly.
    5. “Grow your contacts database is the best advice I could give you,” said Sarah Vick. She explained that making yourself known in a new location was essential, by personally expanding your network. Good ways of doing this include attending or organising events, joining membership organisations, getting press coverage and networking as much as possible.
    6. Make sure you understand the market you are entering, and know the opportunities that come with it. Look at trends and develop a clear market plan based on that. Ensure your plan is clear, so people will understand who you are and what you’re offering immediately.
    7. Make hiring top talent a priority. For international teams, you want to attract entrepreneurs, adventurers and go-getters who are not afraid of a challenge. You want to hire people you trust to both set up and run a new office around the world. Don’t just hire people who are like you – think about all the skills and personalities you will need.
    8. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make sure that you are established in one location before you try another, and keep offices small to begin with, so that you are able to hire the best talent possible.
    9. Understand the differences between a UK/Europe and Asian audience. The CBBC’s Chris Lethbridge had an interesting example which illustrated the difference between UK and Chinese consumers: Chinese consumers are much more likely to want to share their data, but will want a far more personalised experience in return.
    10. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Partner with the right people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and understand who can help you:
    • Just After Midnight have experience of helping clients launch in Asia, and understand what is needed to set yourself up online there. If you have any questions or think we can help with your Asian adventure, please get in touch.
    • Alibaba Cloud provides an array of cloud computing services for large and small online businesses around the world. They are the largest public cloud vendor in China, with over 400 million Chinese users.
    • Other institutions who can help: local Chambers of Commerce, UK-ASEAN Business Council, Department for International Trade amongst others.
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