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How to Impress Your Prospective Business Partners: Tips for Startups


Partnering with bigger businesses can be a great opportunity for startups to get the momentum they need to take the market by a storm. However, this isn’t an easy thing to accomplish if you’ve only started and don’t have many accomplishments to show off yet. This means that you’ll need to work to impress your potential business partners and persuade them to put their trust in you.

Look at the Japanese for guidance in this regard. Their culture is rather different from what the Westerners are used to. However, there’s no denying the fact that ‘different’ can mean ‘better’ at times. While there is no judging which approach to business is better, one thing is for sure, the Japanese put a lot of thought in making an impression on their business partners. They turned business dinner into an art form and have a business meeting etiquette so complex that it even accounts for potential karaoke nights after the actual meeting.

The main takeaway from this is that impressing prospective business partners requires not only a great proposal but also great entertainment. Here is how a startup can provide both on a limited budget.

Making a Good Impression on Prospective Business Partners in 3 Steps

1.   Be completely honest

The most important thing you have to do in order to make a good impression is to be honest right from the start. Any business relationship (in fact, it’s true for any kind of relationship) must be built on trust. Being truthful and realistic about your prospects as a startup will help build that trust.

Your prospective partners aren’t stupid. They understand exactly what the risks and advantages of working with a startup are. Being open and honest with them shows that you respect them and aren’t trying to deceive or con them.

2.  Throw a party in their honor (and make it budget-friendly)

Throw a party right inside your office. Not only will this be cheaper but this will also give you a chance to show off. You can set up a nice lounge area for the night using a furniture rental and you can find affordable catering in any city. Today you can also rent all kinds of games to serve as entertainment for the night. That includes karaoke in case your prospective business partners are Japanese.

However, for the majority of other cultures, that kind of entertainment isn’t the best choice for a business party. Therefore, unless you know the people you are working with well enough and are 100% sure they will enjoy a night of bad singing and a Mario Cart tournament, you should choose more ‘neutral’ entertainment. For example, try simple contests and social media photo booths. Hosting a cooking class is a surprisingly popular type of corporate event entertainment as well. This can be a good choice for working with foreigners as you can use it as an opportunity to show them more of your culture and learn about theirs.

3.  Learn about their culture

If you want to partner up with a foreign business, you need to research the culture of that country to both make a good impression and to understand your future colleagues better. For example, as mentioned above, the Japanese have rather complex business etiquette, yet it’s completely different from the one in America and Europe.

By learning the basics of your prospective partner’s culture, you show respect for them and their traditions as well as willingness to be flexible. Note that while it’s true that best relationships work by meeting halfway, in business lines aren’t that clear. For example, if you plan this partnership to enter a foreign market, you have to change your marketing and business strategy to fit in. It’s definitely not reasonable to expect foreign consumers to meet you halfway.


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