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Expanding your Company's Horizons

Doing Business in Australia2013.06.17

    A massive country as big as the mainland United States with a tiny population of 22.6 million, Australia’s isolated location makes doing international business with countries like Japan a must for its economic survival. This means that Australia is open to and constantly searching for ideas and proposals from overseas businesses, which makes it a truly ripe market. Yet, Australians have their own way of doing business, and understanding more about this is necessary to succeed there. Read on to learn more.


    Points worth Understanding:


    • Prior relationships are not necessary to do business in Australia. Australians generally view new ventures with new people enthusiastically.
    • The idea that all people should be treated as equals runs deep in Australia, and Australians don’t take well to people who act superior to anyone else. It is more important to be part of the team than stand out as an individual there.
    • A person’s rank in an organization is based on accomplishments, and not on age or years at a company. However, attitudes in the office toward status tend to be quite relaxed. People don’t wear their titles proudly, as hierarchy is not an important part of the business culture in Australia. People also do not tend to brag about their achievements or background.
    • Team spirit is central in Australian companies. Showing that you are on board as a team member, as well as sincere in your efforts to befriend your colleagues, will help you go far in your business dealings there.


    Business Meetings:


    • Arrange your meeting at least a month ahead of time. Business hours are nine to five, Monday through Friday.
    • Australians value punctuality, so you should arrive on time, but note that it’s not uncommon for people to show up a few minutes late to a meeting.
    • To keep everyone on equal footing in business, Australians use first names when addressing each other.
    • Some friendly discussion, often about sports, usually takes place before getting down to business in a meeting.
    • Meetings in Australia sometimes have an agenda, but the flow of a meeting tends to be quite loose. In general, discussion will be encouraged on the topic at hand, and when a collaborative agreement is reached, follow-up steps are then mapped out.
    • It’s very important to not present yourself or your company as somehow better than your Australian hosts. Being too aggressive in your proposal or even too overly-prepared, and flaunting this, will make a negative impression. Self-promotion and self-importance are not valued traits among Australians.
    • A democratic atmosphere shapes the culture of most Australian businesses, and this will come across in the way meetings are run. Discussion will be open and direct. Debate among all levels of staff is not unusual.
    • It is quite common to encounter a lot of humor during the course of business in Australia. This may be surprising to some, but is a typical style of communication there.


    Body Language:


    • A brief, strong handshake is the accepted greeting for both men and women in business in Australia.
    • Conservative business attire is the norm there. The country can be quite hot, so make sure to wear clothing that is breathable.
    • While very friendly and down-to-earth, Australians keep a certain amount of personal space between themselves and another while speaking. Reciprocating this will help to create a comfortable atmosphere in which everyone is at ease.
    • Maintain eye contact while speaking with your Australian counterparts to show them you are sincere in your words.


    More to Keep in Mind:


    • While Australia is a vast country with a great amount of land, the majority of its people live in its cities or other urban areas.
    • A lunch with your colleagues there may involve business discussion, but any nighttime outings for dinner or drinks will likely revolve around a social agenda and be used as time for getting to know each other.
    • Don’t greet an Australian with “G’day mate.” That well-worn export is a locals-only greeting!



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