Interview of Aurore Chasseloup Leauté, Founder of Ohward and Aura Legal, about her experience of Doing Business in Japan as a French Entrepreneur. (Transcript below)

“Hello My name is Aurore and I am a Lawyer. I created my law firm specialized in corporate law, that I tried to build like a startup: flexible and innovative. I also have experience in the customers experience field. And I created a startup that was called Ohward, that had the aim of matching former CEOs with acting ones for an exchange of experiences.”

Doing Business in Japan: What are the difficulties?

“While working in customer’s experience, I was in charge of international business. I thus developed a subsidiary in Tokyo. The first the step was to find a team there. We wanted to find locals (Japanese) and not Europeans to develop the business in Japan. This was the first difficulty, finding a Japanese who was capable of developing a business from scratch, able to meet our international clients but especially someone who would accept to work in a small French entreprise.

Furthermore, the Labor Laws in Japan are very similar to the ones in France, meaning ithey come at a high cost. We finally found someone amazing and this first step cleared.

The second one was to adapt to the culture, and to how they run a business. Japanese have a lot of respect and even in business, they never say “no”. And if they don’t say no, we cannot assume they mean “yes”, because its is just their way to be polite. This can bring a certain amount of misunderstanding. And finally, their time management is different. For example the time required to sign a contract is very long. You can’t be impatient and rush, you need to learn to be patient.”

How to Succeed In Japan ?

“Its an incredible experience and very rewarding. My advice in a few points, is the following. First, is that a person needs to know how to take their time. A Japanese was telling me that a French company needs 7 years to gain the trust of Japanese companies and enter in partnership with them. Second, you need cash, as Japan is relatively expensive. Third you need to be open minded, you can’t impose your way of doing and thus accept the Japanese Culture. And last point you need to mix the companies on a local level, mix Japanese and Europeans together in both locations.”

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