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Cultural Challenges; How to Start a Small Business in Indonesia

Many have said that Indonesia is a promising market for investors. How to start a small business in Indonesia? Numerous businesses that started small have shown excellent growth. However, even though it is seen that many life aspects in Indonesia rapidly develops – thus supporting businesses are still greatly needed—still, investors must carry a further observation before setting up a small business. Traditional values play a great role in Indonesia. In this modern era, the locals remain look up to what they have been inherited by their predecessors in their daily lives.

Learn the Etiquettes

If you really want to learn how to start a small business in Indonesia, first thing first you must observe how the local show respect and politeness. It is often begun with basics such as greeting, parting, table manners, and addressing someone for example, whether he is older or younger. Every country has their unique standard in interaction. In Indonesia, shake hands and eye contact are common in representing politeness.

Being patience will add value for the first impression. Also try to appear friendly by smiling because that way is often greatly appreciated. However, there is always a possibility that we embarrass ourselves due to significant cultural differences. The best way to get over from the feeling of socially embarrassed are to laugh at yourself and forgive. Fairly adjusting yourself to the local cultures may be time-consuming but later it will be worth all the effort.

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Government Regulation

It is true that a promising growth is one of the major motivations for investors to set up their business in Indonesia. However, that does not instantly mean the place is risk-free. Challenges and obstacles may hold the growth back so investors must observe carefully of how to start a small business in Indonesia. Even a small business needs to develop strongly.

Another successful key is to understand the business regulation in the country. There are strict and sometime complicated tangent of rules in business registration. You may need a local partner who has a good relationship with government officials. This local partner will be your bridge to related officials in charge since government here is involved in numerous business affairs. Once you are connected to the related department, show your strong commitment. You may need to be directly involved by regularly visiting the country.

Time Recognition

Be patience in determining deadline is one of the keys of how to start a small business in Indonesia. Here, we must notice another notable cultural difference in recognizing the time. Most Asians do not refer to exact date of time to set up a business deal. Often, they refer it as “when the time is right” to make a deal in business.

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This practice is sometime confusing for the western investors that are in contrast, commonly persistent in determining business target on a fixed date. Still, it is not advised to be excessively assertive toward your local partner. Whereas, you will be considered of being pushy and as the consequence you may lose your partner.

Personal Aspect in Business

In Indonesia, personal aspect is as important as professionalism. Personal value often determines a good, strong business partnership.  It is considered important that you must be friend first then you will be a good partner. Thus, it should not be surprising that maintaining reliable partnership will involve appointments outside the regular, formal meetings. Meal time and some occasions at sport center are among those.

Motivate Your Employees

Motivation is all we know as a force or influence that causes someone to do something. Interestingly, we will again, find differences in motivation between the westerners and the local. In running a business, Western investors generally get motivated by the promising business growth and high standard of living.

In contrast, Indonesians in common are strongly motivated by personal factors such as family, health, and faith. We must again remember that personal aspect hold a great role in the country. From the illustration, we should understand that it is not enough to motivate the local employees only by promising them a money reward.

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Our intention to get them enhance their work performance should involve a clear explanation, a good example, a supportive work environment (harmonious relationship between supervisors and the subordinates) and of course, salary increment and bonuses in a form of facilities and privileges. The locals, however, like improvements for their appearances. That is one reason why bonuses such as VIP membership in famous sport clubs, allowance in fancy housing, and fine cars will effectively motivate your local employees.

Those are among many interesting facts of how to start a small business in Indonesia. Learning cultural differences will help you preparing the setting up and bring benefit to the business in many aspects.

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