Mark Runacres, British Business Group, Confederation of British Industry, India Advisor
The main piece of advice that British companies coming into India need to bear in mind is don’t take anything for granted. Over the years it’s been I think, because India and United Kingdom have had such a long term association that have seen deep and complex historic roots, people do tend to take quite a lot of things for granted. They tend to think that because people speak English that makes life lot easier, because they recognize the legal system, the accounting system maybe things would be a little bit like doing business back in the UK or in North America.
Of course the truth is very different. People need to bear in mind that this is an emerging economy with a huge number of both economic and social complexities which they need to take into account. What does that mean in practical terms? It means that very often companies will do well to take partners when they come in and make sure that those partners are people who themselves are well placed to interpret what it is that’s happening in the market place and to make sure that the British company’s interests are properly protected and represented here. That in its own term means that if you do choose to get into a partnership, you must make sure that you find a good match. And by match I mean not only that they know the business or they understand the economics of it but that there’s a values match.
There has been an awful lot of experience in this country of companies coming in and taking the wrong partners. I myself have been associated with companies who have done that. It’s an expensive lesson and it’s a lesson that is hard learnt. In the end people come back and they make sure that they get the right partners the second time around and it works out. The other piece of advice I think is that you must not expect very quick results. People have long said that patience is the greatest virtue in doing business in India. This is not a market in which things happen very quickly.