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Starting a business in Japan.

herculas

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So I moved to Japan, Tokyo and have some money I would like to use and invest in the catering/food business in Japan. i don't know the language and I know this will be a hindrance, but I still want to give it a shot.

Simply put my plan is to sell some Turkish food, starting off small and if successful to grow. I believe Turkish food could be popular and well liked in Japan, but i don't mean kebabs and the like, I am thinking more traditional street food.

I would like to get some advice/support or even find a potential business partner.

For more information please PM me, or send me an email.

Thanks in advance.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I have no interest in being a business partner, but as someone operating a reasonably successful business in Japan (meaning the business is profitable and I'm getting paid from it, though my accountant does her level best to show that I don't make one single yen) I can offer some advice:

1. Learn Japanese. At least enough to handle issues with the pension office, talk to your bank, talk to an accountant, etc. My Japanese is terrible, probably n5 at best (honestly, I don't think I could pass n5 but it makes no difference to me so I never bother with tests or practice tests), but at least functional enough to handle these basic business issues. While you're at it, learn kanji! Reading is a basic skill and absolutely essential for business.

2. Don't have your visa based on your business. I could save about 50,000 JPY per month if my visa was not a business manager visa. That's an annoying debt to pay each month just for the privilege of doing business in Japan.

3. Write a complete business plan. Not just back of the envelope calculations. See who your competition is. See who your market is. See what your marketing needs are. Walk into this with a firm grasp on reality.

Starting a business is a good way to go broke quickly. Mitigate the potential loss by doing your due diligence in advance. After you have 5 million yen tied up in capital assets is not the time to learn that there are 10 better, more established places offering the same thing you are and you have no USP.
 
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herculas

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I have no interest in being a business partner, but as someone operating a reasonably successful business in Japan (meaning the business is profitable and I'm getting paid from it, though my accountant does her level best to show that I don't make one single yen) I can offer some advice:

1. Learn Japanese. At least enough to handle issues with the pension office, talk to your bank, talk to an accountant, etc. My Japanese is terrible, probably n5 at best (honestly, I don't think I could pass n5 but it makes no difference to me so I never bother with tests or practice tests), but at least functional enough to handle these basic business issues. While you're at it, learn kanji! Reading is a basic skill and absolutely essential for business.

2. Don't have your visa based on your business. I could save about 50,000 JPY per month if my visa was not a business manager visa. That's an annoying debt to pay each month just for the privilege of doing business in Japan.

3. Write a complete business plan. Not just back of the envelope calculations. See who your competition is. See who your market is. See what your marketing needs are. Walk into this with a firm grasp on reality.

Starting a business is a good way to go broke quickly. Mitigate the potential loss by doing your due diligence in advance. After you have 5 million yen tied up in capital assets is not the time to learn that there are 10 better, more established places offering the same thing you are and you have no USP.
Ah thanks for the heads up!
Yes, i have to learn the language ASAP to at least a conversational level, I have started off slow just trying to learn Hiragana right now. I need to pick up the pace.

Right now I have a Working Holiday Visa for 1 year, I'm here with my Japanese fiance and we are engaged so once we get married I should be able to get a spouse visa or something different, I will have to look into that.

How should I go about writing a business plan?

In basic terms my business idea was to prepare food/snacks and potentially sell my 'product' to local shops or go to events and sell there via a small stand or something.
 

WonkoTheSane

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Ah thanks for the heads up!
Yes, i have to learn the language ASAP to at least a conversational level, I have started off slow just trying to learn Hiragana right now. I need to pick up the pace.

Right now I have a Working Holiday Visa for 1 year, I'm here with my Japanese fiance and we are engaged so once we get married I should be able to get a spouse visa or something different, I will have to look into that.

How should I go about writing a business plan?

In basic terms my business idea was to prepare food/snacks and potentially sell my 'product' to local shops or go to events and sell there via a small stand or something.
Tons of templates and apps to write the plan.

You need to know the regulations, though.

Talk to a professional.
 

herculas

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Tons of templates and apps to write the plan.

You need to know the regulations, though.

Talk to a professional.
Will do. Do you know or recommend any legal advisers or accountants?
 

WonkoTheSane

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Will do. Do you know or recommend any legal advisers or accountants?
The company I used is focused on company formation and visa so I don't know if they would be good for you.

If I were you I'd sit down with your fiance and Google and start searching, preferably in Japanese. You can probably find regulations and other information to help you to start to get some ideas on how to move forward.

Go here and work through the plan. Ignore the Australia specific stuff and focus on applying the ideas to your business in Japan. The idea is not to have a business plan, but to have learned something. Don't fudge numbers, look things up. Paint an accurate picture because you'll be living in that picture.

Business Plan Template & Guide | business.gov.au
 

Mike Cash

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The fact that you're going to be dealing in food is going to add to the licensing/regulations burden. You're most definitely going to need competent professional advice and assistance to get that all taken care of.
 

nice gaijin

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Depending on where you're at, I'd seek out local Turkish restaurateurs and ask them about their experiences. They could be wary of talking to potential competition, but you may find a wealth of information (and a potential connection with other non-Japanese business owners). Also, you could benefit from the sense of camaraderie between foreigners from the same country (assuming you're Turkish); some people are just happy to talk to new people in their own language.

Restaurants are high-risk startups; it takes a lot of time and effort to build a reputation, and it doesn't take much to spoil that if someone gets sick or enough people give you bad reviews. If you haven't run a restaurant before, know what you're getting into.

That said, if anyone knows anyone in the Ramen/Abura soba business that is looking to expand to America, I have a killer business idea.
 

KyushuWoozy

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Restaurants are high-risk startups
I read 80% fail within two years. But if it does work out you can make a ton of money.

Do make a business plan. Don't be put off my naysayers - he who dares wins.

There's lots of local government support offered in Japan for start-ups. Your fiance needs to look into this.

Good luck.
 
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