Business Australian Style & Operations Insights


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Summary of Australian Business Style & Operational Insights

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Business Australian Style & Operations Insights

  1. 1. Business Australian Style Handout Paul Mracek of Kotan Australia Pty Ltd The “Next Step” is yours…to build a better “Business” Elegant Simplicity…to Success Contact: -1-
  2. 2. General InformationCapital: CanberraSurface Area: 7,692 thousand sq kmOfficial Language: Australian (form of English)Population: 22.155 million (2010)Head of State:H.M Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor General -HE Ms Quentin BryceHead of Government:Prime Minister The Hon Ms Julia Gillard (finally decided)Key ConceptsEgalitarianism – Australia has a very egalitarian culture where differences in status needno particular deference. Often referred to as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’, this creates asociety that avoids differentiation between individuals, or being a ‘tall poppy’ by standingout from the crowd. Instead, modesty, parity and mutual respect are preferred.Egalitarianism infiltrates all aspects of Australian life and is particularly prominent in thebusiness sphere. Australians generally avoid drawing too much attention to theiracademic qualifications, personal achievements or business success, since this may beperceived as arrogance. Its influence can also be seen in the more down-to-earth approachto business that Australians adopt.OpennessA highly valued aspect of Australian culture and well-known trait of the nation’spopulation is the open and direct manner in which daily life is conducted. Generally,Australians are literal and to the point in their communication, often voicing what mightbe perceived as strong and confrontational opinions. As a nation, they value directnessand respect those who express their own views and beliefs. In a business context, you willfind that your Australian counterparts are, on the whole, receptive to new ideas andencourage lively discussion or debate.IndividualismThis characteristic is prominent in the behaviour of many Australians and in the way theyinteract with other members of society. A common feature of individualism, which mustbe taken into consideration, is the importance of personal privacy and the segregation ofthe public and private life of individuals. Whilst dealing with your Australiancounterparts, you may find attempts at developing personal relationships are treated withcaution. -2-
  3. 3. Doing Business with AustraliaThe Commonwealth of Australia, a united independent nation established in 1901,consists of six states and two territories. Aboriginal settlers were the first to migrate to thecontinent almost 50,000 years ago, until the seventeenth century when the first Europeansbegan to explore and Captain James Cook took possession under Great Britain in 1770. Asa self-sufficient country, natural resources helped to rapidly develop the nation’sagricultural and manufacturing industries. In recent years, Australia has increased itseconomic focus and has become one of the most dominant and advanced marketeconomies in the world with increasing demands from its trading partners.Australia Business Part 1 - Working in Australia (Pre-departure)• Working practices in Australia Punctuality is an essential part of Australian business practice. Lateness may create the impression that you are unreliable and careless in your business dealings. However, whilst arriving on time is expected of foreigners, it is not uncommon for Australians to bend these rules slightly. It is advisable to schedule business appointments approximately one month in advance. Generally, making appointments with executives is relatively easy and you will find most of them accessible and accommodating. Business hours in Australia tend to be 9.00 am to 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday. You should avoid making business trips to the country around Christmas and Easter, as this is the time of the year when most business people are on holiday.• Structure and hierarchy in Australian companies Company structure in Australia is generally flat with little visible distinction between those of varying rank and status. The authority to make decisions is not always left in the hands of the high level executives. In Australia, lower level employees often have a considerable amount of power and authority within the company.• Working relationships in Australia Australians tend to initiate a first name basis with their fellow business associates quickly. This is an indication of mutual respect and equality. In Australia it is essential to establish personal relationships with those you are conducting business with. It is important to make connections with established representatives who are able to help build those relationships.Australia Business Part 2 - Doing Business in Australia• Business practices in Australia The use of titles is not an essential part of Australian business culture. Australians tend to be more informal in their business dealings and will move to a first name basis quite quickly. However, when initially introduced, you should address -3-
  4. 4. your Australian counterparts by their last names preceded by “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, or “Miss.”, until they initiate this informality. When meeting your Australian associates for the first time, it is customary to shake hands, firmly but briefly, at the beginning and end of a meeting. This is the preferred gesture for both male and female colleagues, although men should allow a woman to offer their hand first. Following initial introductions, negotiations will proceed quickly. Australians will negotiate major issues in an open and direct manner, but always in accordance with company policy. It is fundamental to abide by established rules and laws rather than allow feelings to take precedence. Despite an overall results-orientated outlook towards business, the decision making process can be a slow and extended one, that should not be rushed or hurried. Australian business culture prefers a more collaborative approach to work and therefore managers and subordinates alike will give their input and consider the options before reaching a final decision.Australian Business Etiquette (Do’s and Don’ts) DO partake in some initial “small talk” before a business meeting begins. Australians use this as a way of establishing rapport with their colleagues and is an important part of business etiquette. DO keep a certain amount of distance when in conversation with your Australian counterparts. Personal space is highly valued in Australian culture. DO maintain good, direct eye contact with your Australian colleagues during all business meetings and conversations as this helps to establish trust. DON’T over exaggerate or boast about your company’s abilities or build up business information. Self-importance is not a favoured quality in Australian culture; therefore you should remain modest and unassuming at all times. DON’T discuss aspects of your personal life during business negotiations. Privacy is an important element of everyday life in Australia. DON’T use aggressive sales techniques whilst negotiating. Your Australian business colleagues will dislike being pressured and may be put off by this approach. Gift Giving Gift – giving is generally not a part of Australian culture. However, if you are invited for dinner, its permissible to bring a token gift of flowers, chocolates, or wine. An illustrated book from your home region can be another welcome gift. A product unique to your home region can also be a good choice Bear in mind that your thoughtful choice is considered more important than the actual cost of the gif -4-
  5. 5. Structure - Business • Manufacturing in Australia is approximately 16% of GDP, and is continuing to decline • Focus has shifted in many industries to importing, selling and servicing to meet industry demands • Population base in Australia makes it difficult for local manufacturers to compete on commodity type products, where overseas manufacturers have a lower cost base compared to Australia (A$18/hr) • Majority of the population is based in the capital cities of Melbourne (5 M), Sydney (5M), Brisbane (2M), Adelaide (1M), Perth (1M). To be able to support the Australian market for commodity type products requires to be present in at least Melbourne and Sydney as a minimum. • Expectation from customers is that an organization has as a minimum – Sales, Technical, Quality and Customer support; Service, Repair and Parts replacement capability to support products sold within an acceptable lead time, this can range from 24 hours (for breakdowns) to 1 week for remote sites • Structure of organizations generally consist of head office with core functions and inventory with a satellite network of service centres and / or agents to handle interstate and remote customers. This network can be company owned or joint venture / license / service contract arrangements with small owner operators through to larger service specialistsMarket Penetration • The core fundamentals for gaining a foot hold in the market is based around QCDS, i.e.: Quality Cost Delivery Service • Product reliability is a key consideration to establishing creditability in the market place • Cost or price needs to be competitive, but not necessarily the lowest. Many organizations use “Whole of Life Calculations” for establishing the total cost to the organization and establishing savings potential. Knowledge and approach varies widely, e.g. mining companies versus small residential supplier • Relationships are important in Australia, they provide the entry conditions into customers and establishes credentials for the product -5-
  6. 6. • Buying decisions and approaches vary dependant on the type of organization being targeted, i.e. small, medium or large. The key is always to develop trust with the key decision maker to ensure that the price is competitive, product is reliable, service and support infrastructure is in place. The bottom line is to ensure that no one in the decision tree will lose face, it operates at an unsaid level but is alive and well • The base operating culture is “Say what you do, and do what you say”Operations • Start up of a operation in Australia can be through a number of options, i.e.: Licencee – quickest entry and lowest cost base, limited flexibility and control Joint Venture – quick entry, medium cost base, ability to control and monitor Partnership – medium entry, medium + cost base, more ability to control, monitor and drive Company Owned - longest entry, higher cost base, greatest flexibility • Each of these options provide pro’s and con’s to growth and profit opportunities, depending on the target market(s) and long term plans for revenue growth • Distribution is costly due to the long distances between locations, especially in remote areas. Most organizations use established distribution specialists and negotiate their specific needs and prices. • Product range – the optimum approach is to have a core range of products and then alter /adjust to the specific conditions and needs of customers, if technically possible. This reduces the overall inventory levels needed to be held and reduces required working capital and infrastructure requirements • Personnel – Australia is currently experiencing a skill shortage in a number of areas, mainly in the tradesman and professional areas. Obtaining people with the required skill set could be a challenge -6-