Doing Business in India

For the last couple of decades India has largely been viewed as an outsourcing destination where organisations from many countries could reduce their cost-base through transferring work to a country with a large number of highly educated graduates who spoke good English but whose wage demands were considerably lower than in the West. 

This approach to India is, however, rapidly changing and the country is increasingly recognised for what it will soon become – the world’s largest potential market for goods and services.  With a rapidly growing middle class comes the need for all those commodities that have been lacking in India in the past – not only consumer goods but also infrastructure development and financial and legal services.

India, therefore, represents a huge business opportunity but it also undoubtedly presents risks and significant barriers to entry.  Whilst the government is trying to open up the country to foreign investment, many sectors remain stubbornly closed and there is considerable internal pressure to keep these entry barriers strong.  Combine these Foreign Direct Investment barriers with a bewilderingly complex combination of central and states-based governmental systems and it is not difficult to see why many organisations are wary of entering the India market space.

As painful as these political and bureaucratic barriers might seem, India is definitely open for business and those companies and organisations who approach the India market with the right mindset, having done the requisite amount of due diligence can be extremely successful and secure a bright future.

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when entering the India market or doing business with India is definitely the cultural differences you will undoubtedly encounter.  They do things differently in India.  Indian business culture and etiquette is the product of thousands of years of the influence of Hinduism with an overlay of Islam, the British Raj and more recent Western business systems.  Understanding the impact of a hierarchical mindset, the complex communication patterns and a myriad of other subtleties can help you refine your approach and hugely improve your chances of success.

Many organisations think they can simply transplant their normal ways of doing things into India and expect it to work – it probably won’t!  Understanding the Indian mindset, adapting how your offering fits into Indian needs and keeping your eyes open to the rapid changes that are happening in India on a daily basis – these are the keys to success in India.

This India country profile is designed as a starting point to help you begin to wrestle with the way things are done in India – but it is only a starting point.  When you have read this country profile, why not invest in one of the books suggested in the reading list or, better still, talk to Global Business Culture at  Global Business Culture are world leaders in the field of the impact of cultural differences on international business performance and have assisted a large number of companies who are working with or wish to work with India.

Suggested Reading List...

Doing Business in India Rajesh Kumar and Anand Sethi
Doing Business in India Pawan S. Budhwar and Arup Varma