How To Do Business in India

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Doing business in India can be a little daunting initially, with a land mass bigger than the size of Europe and a staggering array of languages, local dialects and patosis, but India has made great strides in its business ventures. Its vast generalisations have made doing business in India very popular and lucrative.

India offers gigantic opportunities to businesses all around the world who want to capitalise on the international market. Due to a large percentage of the population having large disposable incomes, it has been speculated that doing business in India will be one of the greatest business successes of this century. However, if you want to succeed in establishing a successful business in India, it is wise to do a little research into India’s business and social cultures.

Due to India’s various dialects and local customs, generalisations about the India approach to business should not really be made. However, there are certain methods and approaches which are almost widespread across the country. Doing business in India successfully means that you should keep these factors in your mind. As with many other Asian countries, relationships in India are extremely important in business and you will not get far without bearing this in mind. In addition, due to the inheritance of the caste system, you will need to be aware of the hierarchal system.


Business Structure:

When you are doing business in India you must understand that businesses run much the same way as the society is run. Both hierarchal, one person generally runs the company and the rest of the people do not try to overturn this position. The individual which is head of the business will give out instructions down the rest of the ladder and those underneath him or her will follow them categorically. Employees generally will not question the instructions given to them as they believe that karma and dharma impose themselves on these.


When doing business in India it is therefore important that you communicate with the head of the business as much as you possibly can. Otherwise you may find that the middle men you deal with do not have the authority to decide on matters. If you do deal with middle management, you should mediate with those who have sway on the head of the business.

If you are setting up a MNC (multinational corporation) you may find it difficult in a country such as India. This is because the more diplomatic approach in an MNC is not very well received due to the hierarchal system people use in Indian businesses. Retraining, clarification and persistence are all needed if you do try this approach when doing business in India.



There are 15 official languages in India, English being one of them and the only widespread language used by educated society. English is seen to be a neutral language, one that can be implemented when dealing with people from the various different states and provinces. Regional associations cause much friction in India politics and because of which, English is the primary language when doing business in India. Therefore, all business people in India will speak fluent English; it will be very strange for you to come across a business person in India who does not speak the language.


When doing business in India you may find that there are misunderstandings, especially with the word ‘no’. Just like with other Asian cultures, Indians have a problem with saying no to others because of possible difficulties in the relationship. As relationships, business or otherwise, as extremely important, unless you are given an absolute yes, you should always take it as a no. Phrases such as ‘yes, perhaps’, or ‘yes, but it could be complicated’ will in all probability mean no. Compelling your Indian contacts to be more direct in the way they talk to you is not a good idea.


Women in Business:


Women doing business in India will find integration into businesses very easily. Gender inequality in Indian society does not reflect the gender inequality in Indian business; the general consensus in India is if a woman has been given the role of manager then she deserves that role and she would be given the same respect as a male manager with her instructions being completed just as attentively.


Dress Code:

Doing business in India means that you should pay careful attention to how you dress. Foreign businessmen should opt for smart, lightweight and comfortable suits; ties are not necessary unless visiting more traditional sectors, for instance banks and law offices. Women should be more conservative in what they wear; modest dresses or trouser suits are preferable, without revealing too much skin, in particularly the legs. Avoid leather clothing as Hindus may find it offensive.


Climate is an important factor in how you dress to do business in India. India’s climate varies depending on where and when you travel so make sure you have appropriate clothing.

When doing business in India you should always consult a guide which will take you through the different aspects of India’s business culture. This way you should find that doing business in India is easier and with fewer misunderstandings, thus ensuring that your business venture in India is successful.



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