For over 20 years I have been working in Moscow with partners from Europe, USA and Asia as a local Distributor for number of products and services.
Today I would like to share with you the methods, concerning the finding of a local partner in Russia.
DOING BUSINESS IN RUSSIA
First of all a couple of words about doing business in Russia, because the general image of it around the World is not so attractive. My frank opinion is that your success of doing business in Russia depends for about 80 % on the finding of an appropriate local partner.
Probably it is also valid for doing business in other parts of the World, because business rules are more or less universal for most commercial markets around the globe. In case you find a right partner, which means that you understand well each other, have high level of confidence and trust, comfortable to work - it is already quite high chance of your mutual success. The other part of success depends on your daily work, correct business strategy, patience, support, market momentum and other factors.
COMPARISON OF DOING BUSINESS IN RUSSIA AND OTHER MARKETS
I believe doing business in Russia is not more dangerous or complicated compare to other countries but of course if you have got a good local partner. Why I am saying that - because in my business history there were cases when we paid and did not received any goods from USA or struggling with non-proper working equipment from Canada, USA and Germany. But at the same time, having right partner in China, we did manage to return «row» machinery to China and get money back by braking China government export rules, which was done by a local partner despite the damages he had from side of the local authorities.
THE WAY TO FIND RIGHT PARTNERS IN RUSSIA
Of course it is a quite complicated process that requires time and other resources.
Here are several approaches to it:
a. VISIT THE MAJOR MARKET SEGMENT LOCAL TRADE SHOW
It depends on your nature of business but in case it is commercial goods or services one of the best way, from my point of view, is to visit a local trade show related to your business.
Plus: It will give you a chance to see market situation and a level of its development, major players in the country, to meet and talk to potential partners.
Minus: It takes time for travel, not so cheap, obtaining of Russian entry visa is required for nationals of most countries, could be a language barrier with local companies.
b. VISIT A LOCAL SEMINAR
Less effective than a visit of a trade show, because usually not all the market players participate in it due to different reasons.
Pluses and minuses are as above.
c. CONTACT A TRADE MISSION OF YOUR COUNTRY IN RUSSIA
The other way to find a partner is to contact Trade Mission of your country in Russia and ask them to help you to find it. From my experience of contacts from side of number of Trade Missions of European countries, it is not so effective but there are always could be exceptions and you might find what you are looking for.
Of course it also depends on your business scale, possibly in some case the head of Trade Mission will be happy to assist you personally.
Plus: in some cases travel is not required, probably it is cheap or free
Minus: quality of candidate is difficult to predict due to formal approach of authorities in many cases.
d. FRIENDS CONNECTIONS
You also can use friends relations in Russia. If you are lucky - friends of friends can find some interesting candidates for mutual business in the local market.
References in Russia play a positive role.
Plus: usually high level of confidence and trust
Minus: working in another business, not connected to yours
d. TO FIND PARTNER VIA INTERNET
It is also possible to find companies - candidate for the partnership via Internet. There are two major searching engines you should use in Russia - Google and Yandex.
Plus: it is possible to find quickly a number of companies - candidates for the cooperation
Minus: usually it is difficult to understand the company nature via Internet. Who did you find: is it reseller, Internet shop or distributors? Also size of the company and its interests are under the question.
e. CONTACT A PROVIDER OF LOCAL SERVICES
If you are prepared to pay some fee for the service, you also can contact a local company - a provider of services for foreign companies in Russia. From my point of view - contacting a proper local business service provider is the most effective way to find a local partner, because these people know the market, can find proper local partner(s) in different spheres of business and they are doing it on daily basis in quite professional way in most cases.
Tip: Number of local business providers are offering free initial interviews, which give you the idea about who these people are in order to decide if you should work with them or not.
Plus: good level of communication, proper candidate will be found
Minus: it is not free of charge
You may think that I am interested in directing you to a contact with local service provider - «yes» and «no», being a local service provider for foreign companies I am of course interested in it but on the other hand, it is indeed the most effective way to find a local partner.
On second position about finding a right partner in Russia, I would put a visit to a local trade show.
Soon I am planning to cover other aspects of doing business in Russia.
Russian Market Entry
P.S. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation