Video Interview: Web and app design done right
Olivier Boutet, French owner of 3-year old design firm A plan b says business success in Taiwan is all about connections or Guan Xi. Find out how he has gained his.
Quote about starting a business in Taiwan
“For Taiwanese companies it is hard to buy something you cannot see.”
“Don’t think about business the same way as you would think of in Europe or in North America.”
“It’s all about Guanxi, indeed. It’s even better to be introduced by someone.”
7 years of experience in free-lancing as graphic designer
Working experiences in France, Ukraine and Taiwan
Majored in visual communication
How to start a business in Taiwan? Episode #02 of the series “Foreign Entrepreneurs in Taiwan”, featuring Olivier Boutet from A Plan B Powered by Taiwan Business Consulting. Learn more here: www.aplanb.co and www.startabusinessintaiwan.tw
My name is Olivier Boutet, I’m a French citizen, I arrived in Taiwan 3 years ago and right now my company is called A plan B.
What is the activity of A Plan B?
The core, the main thing in A Plan B is that we provide people with Project Management. It’s difficult to understand the thing how, why would you hire just a project manager? That’s why we also provide them with a huge database of service providers in the design industry, in the communication field in the development industry. In the end the final product can be a website, some leaflets, branding a logotype, visual identity; anything in the communication field, let’s say.
Where are your main clients from?
Mainly right now they are from France, Ukraine too, I have some clients in North America. Right now in Taiwan it’s more the French community now but I started to go towards the Taiwanese business fields, but Taiwanese companies for them it’s hard to buy something you cannot see to buy a service is… Yeah why? What do I pay? Why do I get in the end?
What are Taiwan’s main advantages?
I think Taiwan is a good place to go around Asia. Hong-Kong is just a couple of hours away, Mainland China is 3 hours away you can easily go for a couple of days if you have to do business there if you have some clients there, and the life in Taipei, in Taiwan is so convenient, personally, and the administration here really tend to help you.
It was impossible for me open a representative of my company, of my French self-company (auto-entrepreneur status). So in the end it’s the employee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who said “This is the best thing to do you can open easily a company in Hong-Kong for a minimum of investment and then you can open a representative office here. People do that just easily. It worked pretty well and they just tried to help me and to solve my problem. I think you feel welcome in Taiwan, as an entrepreneur, as someone who wants to do something.
What’s its biggest difficulty?
The traditional and conservative way to lead a company here can be sometimes really hard. I sell service mainly, project management and Taiwanese companies are still a bit reluctant for service because they do not have something they can touch in the end, so this is a bit difficult I’m still working on it they need to be educated and they have to understand the value of paying for a service.
Any advice for foreign entrepreneurs?
Yes don’t think about business the same way you would think of in Europe or in North America. Here you don’t go and sell you just try to go and know people first. If they know you if they trust you then you will have business with them it’s all about “Guanxi” (關係) indeed, and the circle of relationship they have, it’s even better to be introduced by someone. For us foreigners we can still go towards them but Taiwanese won’t go towards Taiwanese just like that they need to be introduced by someone else to be accepted in the circle.
How is your Chinese?
I’m just able to be polite and to buy a couple of things, but Chinese did not happened at all for me, it’s such a different concept! (laughs). It can be a problem for the business, yes. For example I have a big Taiwanese client right now, and I have to make sure I can deal with them in Chinese so when I go and meet them I have translators, when I write to them I have it translated in Chinese, all my documents, and yes it’s been quite hard but it’s not impossible.
On a social plan Taiwan is just fantastic. Taiwanese are fantastic just come and experience it and on a business point of view yes I think Taiwan is the right place. Life is really convenient and easy here, even if you don’t speak Mandarin.