When you think about achieving success and making a profit in business, the concept of doing so requires you to be one step ahead of someone else.
In layman’s terms, you have to win over your competitors, and there are many ways to do so.
First of all, it is an overwhelming victory with overwhelming power. No matter what the opponent, no matter what country you go to, you will always win. This is the ideal, but the reality is that few of us small and medium-sized companies have that level of competitiveness.
Even if you manage to win, you will be left with very little energy and a small profit. It’s not a pretty world, but business is all about making a profit, and if you don’t know what you’ve worked so hard for, then there’s no point in doing business.
So, if you don’t have overwhelming power, should you give up on doing business overseas? No, not at all. It just requires a change in mindset, a flexible gaze to re-evaluate things from a different angle. That is what I mean by “discerning thinking one step ahead.
I basically live overseas, but I return to Japan on a regular basis. Every time I go back to Japan, I am amazed at the “itchy-feeling” and detailed Japanese business.
For example, mail can be delivered on a specific date and time, and any expensive item can be delivered to any place in Japan without being lost. To people living in Japan, this may be dismissed with a single word, “What’s so obvious about that?” But to people living abroad, this is an incredible service. Even if it is a matter of course in Japan, the evaluation from overseas is very different. We need to understand this point.
In Australia, trains can’t climb hills!
Some of you may not be familiar with the concept yet, so let me tell you about one incident that actually happened in Australia, where I live, that would never happen in Japan.
In Sydney, Australia’s largest city, sloppy urban planning is now a problem. Before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Australia was experiencing the greatest economic boom in the country’s history. With a population of only 20 million, Australia has been encouraging the easy way out of its domestic labor shortage: immigration. I don’t mind accepting immigrants, but the necessary infrastructure is not in place.
Sydney is more of a small city than a city, with businesses and residences concentrated within a 20 km radius. With the influx of immigrants, the cost of living rose. Housing prices also rose. The average person could no longer afford it and moved further inland in search of a place to live.
The problem there was that there was no public transportation at all. Moreover, most of the places I work are in the Sydney CBD. The northern part of the city is connected to the city center by only one long, narrow bridge and a tunnel, which naturally created a huge traffic jam on the roads in the morning and evening hours.
It was decided to open the railroad with the aim of alleviating this problem, but when the plan came out, I felt a twinge of anxiety. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I’ve never been able to get construction done on time in Australia. Sure enough, the construction period stretched on and on, and the budget went way over. It finally opened when everyone had forgotten it even existed.
This is a common story in Australia, and it is within the acceptable range, but what surprised me was what happened next. This area has a lot of differences in elevation, and in some places the slope is very steep. However, no matter what the situation is, it is a matter of course to pass the work properly when undertaking a job. But…
The train had a severe gradient, the wheels were spinning, we couldn’t climb the hill!
As expected, the media jumped on this and started looking for the culprit. The parties involved were (1) the railroad authority, which is a representative of the fact that timetables do not exist. (2) Australia’s famous “leave the sloppy construction to me” contractors. (3) The government, which has always been good at inept infrastructure.
These three parties began to abuse each other and shift the blame. The Railways Department cursed the builders for their sloppy work, even though it was way over budget, and the builders criticized the government for imposing an unreasonable budget. The government claimed that it had allotted sufficient budget and even additional funds, and pointed out that the problem was the sloppy planning of the railroad department. The bell rang for a mudslinging match. Even now, after the opening of the line, the responsibility has not been clarified. So, what happened to this section after that?
The train is running safely. Has there been any rework work done?
No, no, no.
A few years ago, the Sydney Railways Authority replaced its aging fleet with newer trains. The newer cars were not able to climb the grade due to lack of horsepower, but when the old cars were put to the test, they were able to make it. Since then, I have been pulling out the old rolling stock that was supposed to be disposed of and using it as a bridge until the new rolling stock that was recently introduced can run.
If we play it normal, we win!
This is the current situation in Australia.
Even these companies (the railroad bureau is fully privatized) are able to make a profit and continue to operate. In other words, for lack of a better word, the quality of work is generally overwhelmingly low. No, “low” may be the wrong word.
I think Australia can be classified as a good country in the world. However, in Japan, consumers are very strict about everything and their demands are high, so compared to that, most countries, not just Australia, may seem low.
If you have read this far, you may have understood that “I see. In other words, just by doing the same thing that you are doing in Japan, you can become a target of praise and admiration overseas.
Of course, it may be possible for foreign companies to produce the same quality as Japanese companies. However, that would cost three times as much as the usual cost. In terms of cost-effectiveness, we believe that we have a good chance of winning. In terms of pure business operations, we can secure sufficient profits by continuing with the conventional methods. Moreover, there are no major companies that monopolize the market.
What do you think? I think you are getting quite courageous.
Of course, not all Japanese-style businesses have the same potential. Even if it is a good product, there is a great possibility that it may not meet your needs and may be over-specified. Discernment is the first step to success.