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10 advices to succeed in India

India is at its best economically and politically speaking, which keeps attracting investors and foreign entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, to make business in India remains a challenge. This subcontinent owns its own rules of the games – culture and codes – and you can ruin your projects if you don’t know how to play. The following list of advices will help the businessmen and managers involved in Indian business to maximize their chances of success.


 1. Understand the Indian time

Countries with a Judeo-Christian culture have a linear perception of time while the Hinduism approach of the time is circular; therefore infinite. As a result, being late for an appointment is not seen as a major problem. Moreover, the most important thing in India is to finish a work but not necessarily in the set deadline. Therefore, set your deadlines with safety margins to make sure that you finish your projects on time.

 2. Don’t take the “yes” at face value

To say “no” in India is very offensive. When your Indian spokesperson will not understand you, he will systematically say “yes” with a horizontal nod. It is crucial for you to repeat and rephrase what you said to make sure you’ve been understood. Remember also to regularly catch up on the state of progress of your project.

 3. Recognise the importance of religion

Be ready to see some appointment delayed or even some projects canceled for religious and astrological reasons. Indian people are profoundly religious and practicing: their religion is the priority. Be understanding about the lack of avability during the major religious festivals. For your information, the main religions in India are Hinduism (80%), Islam (14%) and Christianity (2%), followed by Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.

4. Develop your interpersonal skills

Business trust in India is above all else a matter of connection. Call and visit your spokespersons as much as possible to create this bound. Furthermore, the demarcation between professional and personal life is small. Dare to give details about you and your own family and don’t forget to ask some about your spokesman. Be also aware that business dynasties are very family oriented. This means that businesses are often passed down the line of succession (from father to son).

 5. Be patient

To succeed in India, you have to summon one’s patience. It often requires many years to record successes. The return on investment do generally not occur before two to three years. Be persistent so you can gradually create a climate of confidence with your clients and suppliers. Once the relation established, you’ll be able to count on trustworthy partners who like lasting business relationship.

6. Be flexible

Indian people are used to irrationality. Naturally optimistic they are ready to get involved in innovative projects. Thus, be willing to make ambitious propositions. Take the “Jugaad” on, which became now a management movement taught in the most prestigious Schools/ Universities. Expect that the means used are not the one you were thinking about. It’s about thinking outside the box.

7. Understand the castes system

The system of caste is now over but still very actual in the mindsets. Know that there are 5 main castes: the Brahmanes (priests and intellectuals) which forms the higher caste, then the Kshatriyas (warriors), the Vaishyas (trader and businessmen), the Shudras (servants) and the Dalhits (the untouchables) which are the lowest caste. Last but not least, never ask your Indian spokesman to which caste he/her belongs to: this would be rude.

8. Master the art of negotiation

Bargaining is an integral part of an Indian daily life. They are excellent in this field and specialists of endless negotiations. Get ready to negotiate firmly. While saying “no” or using the rupture technique might be technics of negotiation in Western countries, these might not be the done things in India.  Have more of a diplomatic approach, asking questions to understand the objections of your spokespersons.

9. Follow the main codes of conduct

Generally, Indian people will be tolerant toward your behavior, as you are a foreigner. Nevertheless, here are a few advices to follow which will tip the scale in your favour. Think of accepting the chai (Indian tea), offer to take your shoes off when you enter to someone’s house, and make sure to use your right hand to give documents or to touch food. Accept with enthusiasm the hospitality of your Indian spokespersons.

10. Get support from local partners

Long distance relationship in India are not easy to maintain. It is crucial for you to have one or many partners in India to guide you during each step of your project. Thanks to its establishment in India, its bicultural team, its experience and network, Expandys is ready to bring you this support. Don’t hesitate to contact our team.