A friend of mine, who owns a consulting company here (iLand6), publishes a monthly email about business in Japan.
Today I received the following email from him, in which he gives two good examples of the high cost of doing business in Japan:
My friend Yamano-san is an account manager at the Japan subsidiary of a U.S. bio-medical company. Last week she flew to a customer halfway across Japan. The sole purpose of the meeting was to personally apologize for the parent company missing its delivery schedule.
The doorbell of my home rang early Saturday morning. It was the contractor doing renovations on flat 403, two stories above. They brought me a cake, to apologize for all the noise and inconvenience this past month.
These two cases represent more than cultural nuance. They show a basic business philosophy, in which customer relationship comes first, and support needs to be in place before sales. It represents a cost of doing business in Japan, and explains why small, foreign companies are not immediately accepted here.
Of course, every country has its own peculiarities. In the U.S., a company might be sued for a late delivery, or for causing anguish to neighboring tenants. There are costs for legal retainers and liability insurance. Whats important is to keep an open mind, and to adapt to the country youre working in.