Which MNC has the best work culture

Going Global: Success Factors for Startups in India

In addition to the size of the Indian market, the relatively low wage costs and the large potential of well-trained personnel in the technology / IT industry are important pull factors. So why is it that it is more promising for startups to be active in the Indian market than is the case with the MNCs? The Indian market and business conduct are often subject to great dynamism, which requires companies to be flexible and agile. Startups, which often have even more flexible structures themselves, can react better to short-term changes than large companies. Much is improvised in India and changed at the last minute; It is easier for those who are willing to adapt their approach themselves. In addition to flexibility, good old, careful preparation is also a decisive success factor.

Be prepared ...

Many who have already done business around the world and have been active in other Asian countries expect structures in India to be similar to those in the rest of Asia. But this is not the case! A lot is different in India. It is all the more important to prepare well and develop very clear ideas about what is possible in the country. It is not without reason that even giants like Ikea, which already had access to an extensive supply chain in India, need over 10 years to start their first activities in India.

One of the factors that have a major influence on the preparation is the great diversity of the country. This is both a cultural and a linguistic diversity and there are also great differences between town and country. Depending on the business area, it may be that you work with target groups for whom there is no significant difference in work culture compared to the USA and Europe. But in the next conversation you negotiate with very conservative interlocutors who attach great importance to adhering to foreign cultural customs. That is why you have to be prepared for with whom and in what context you will be traveling in India.

Of course it is also about the requirements of the Indian market. The most successful are those companies in India that deal with the market and the existing needs and thereby develop clear objectives for their activities. Only with a clear objective is it possible to master the possible chaos. India offers many ways and thus also many possibilities to turn wrong.

How to make a deal?

Especially when it comes to entering into negotiations, you will have to think about it. India has been a trading nation for centuries, i.e. the probability that you will meet experienced negotiators is very high. Furthermore, the presentation of facts, e.g. due to the flowery descriptions customary in the country, often deviates significantly from the Western European perception. For long-term cooperation, it is particularly important to build relationships before serious negotiations begin. In a context with many imponderables, the questions of whether you can trust your business partner, rely on him and also how far you can get involved in the conditions of the other are decisive factors for entering into a business.

It is always about ultimately creating a “win-win model” for both sides. Only good personal relationships, in which the family is happy to be included, can create an environment in which controversial views and other challenges can be pointed out. To get such an understanding of the circumstances etc. is of course also possible through a cooperation partner who is familiar with India. Therefore the recommendation is:

Never walk alone!

Just as it makes sense for startups in Germany to work in teams in order to have the required competence "on board", one should never try in India to want to conquer a market alone and without regional knowledge or local partners. India is not self-explanatory. With the increasing number of Indian university graduates in Bavaria, for example, there is good potential to find partners for the activities of your own start-up in India.

There are some initiatives that, like the Bavarian-Indian Center for Business and Universities (BayIND), serve to build bridges to India. These include the Bavarian representation in India and the German-Indian Business Forum (GIBF), which takes place once a year in Munich and, as the German-Indian Startup Connector, offers various programs for startups. The German Indian Startup Exchange Program (GINSEP) also offers advice and events for startups interested in the Indian market. Support in India itself is offered by the “startupindia” initiative and various incubation centers, which are now widespread in all major cities.

And finally, the daily business ...

The - usually very hierarchical - structures play a major role in the decision-making processes in Indian companies. No matter how positive your contact person is, as long as their suggestions have not been approved by the top hierarchy level, their validity cannot be relied on. At the same time, the strong hierarchies in many companies prevent indirect communication and a functioning feedback culture. Since the decisions of the lower levels have little effect, there is also a tendency in day-to-day business to skip hierarchical levels in order to achieve an increase in efficiency. This can lead to the top level dealing with various little things in a time-consuming manner.

Especially in day-to-day business, availability also plays a major role in communication. Many problems and questions can be dealt with in one phone call or via Whatsapp, i.e. easy accessibility is crucial for smooth processes. Concepts such as weekend leisure and regular working hours are not very widespread.

This rather flexible construct of “time” can also be transferred to the subject of punctuality. The always tense traffic situation and the general understanding of time mean that delays are the order of the day. The word "kal", which can stand for both "yesterday" and "tomorrow", is an example of this different understanding of time. Nevertheless, the German punctuality is well known in India and it may be expected of you, even if the Indian side does not consistently adhere to it. In any case, mobile accessibility is of great importance. It is always worthwhile to ask again the day before and shortly before the appointment whether the meeting will actually take place and the other party will be on time.

With a little preparation and reliable partners, even a rather challenging market can be mastered. Use the opportunities that India offers you, especially in the area of ​​the rapidly growing IT sector.