Last week, Tim Harcourt, also known as The Airport Economist, dispelled myths about the difficulties of doing business in China. In this week’s installment, he covers his experiences doing business in India, which are also featured in his new book, Trading Places: The Airport Economist’s Guide to International Business .
“India is much more than the 3 C’s – cricket, curry and commonwealth,” says Harcourt.
He adds that business people must be mindful that 50% of the population is under 25.
“So education, sports and fashion are very popular,” he advises, but cautions that solely relying on the national obsession with cricket can be a mistake. “Cricket is a good icebreaker but it won’t do the entire job for you,” says Harcourt.
He says that countries like Australia have successfully used cricket superstars, like Shane Warne, to open doors, but after that the relationship must be based on the usual business diligence.
A bonus in India as compared to other countries in Asia, is the large, and free, English media.
“The large English press opens many opportunities to run a good public relations campaign,” he says.
Harcourt also advises that businesspeople wanting to enter the Indian market would do well to ask their country’s representatives in India for help navigating the notorious red tape.
“It’s a relationship driven country rather than translational so business takes time. As my Indian colleagues say: ‘It’s a good wicket, but before you can make runs you must carefully prepare the pitch.’”