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  • Curtis Mackenzie

Entrepreneurship in Japan

Japan and the word "entrepreneurship" used to be seen in completely antithetical terms. Japan is known as a big business nation and had a culture of swallowing ambition and forcing individuals with vision to go abroad to seek such opportunities. However, this kind of stereotype can be seen as a fallacy as entrepreneurship, although not as encouraged as other countries, is on the up and there are plenty of opportunities for startups and individuals with big ideas. 

Fukuoka is the Guiding Light

In 2014, Fukuoka City was designated as one of Japan’s National Strategic Special Zones. It began transforming itself into a center for global startups and job creation. New initiatives and deregulation policies were put into place to attract both Japanese and foreign entrepreneurs. The following year, the Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau became the first entity in Japan to begin offering short-term Business Manager visas, also known as Startup Visas. Foreigners who found a business in Fukuoka are exempt for six months from the usual Business Manager visa requirements of having 5 million yen in capital, opening a business office and hiring two or more permanent employees. This is possible due to the vision of mayor Soichiro Takashima who has spearheaded this kind of new approach to business and is seen as a political and industrial visionary in Japan. Don’t be put off by Japan’s difficult admin procedures Even if you’re a newbie in Japan, it’s no surprise that creating a company can be an arduous process – especially if you don’t have sufficient Japanese language skills.

Here are some suggestions on how to manage these challenges.

Find a Mentor or Someone with Experience 

Finding a mentor is something every new business owner should do. Ask around, network and find someone you trust who has already been through the experience of starting a company in Japan. Their experience and friendship will be crucial on the road to entrepreneurship. 

Capitalize on Difference

What are you bringing to your specific industry, in Japan, which is new? Make the most of your point of difference. Study up on markets which are undervalued in Japan and capitalize on this. It will make a tremendous difference to your outlook and business. 

What are your customers needs? And understanding customer service

The way your industry operates in your country might not necessarily be the same in Japan. A certain element of localization may be required. Make sure you can understand how business works in Japan and match customer expectations. If you can clearly explain your strategy to a VC you’re more likely to sell and get funded.

Work hard! 

It doesn't matter what the industry and how much experience you have overseas, you will have to work very hard to succeed in Japan. It's very possible but effort, conscientiousness and strategy are key. Do your homework, take on trusted and valuable advice and work hard, very hard.

For more insights and support doing business in Japan, contact us at New Frame KK.

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