Less than a year ago, Maruschka Wischmann found herself explaining her business plan to a government official in Taipei who seemed reluctant to grant her the licence for her newly established Wischmann Consult Asia. At first, the official seemed to think the 25-year-old entrepreneur was too young to be successful in Taipei. “After a sharp interrogation, the character of the interview changed for the better. At the end of the interview, I left the office with a big smile and with a list of official’s family members and friends that could surely be of help to make my business in Taipei take off”, Maruschka explains.
Taipei’s business character
The anecdote underlines Taipei’s business character in more than two ways. Firstly, this is a city where business has its rules and regulations – there is no escape to red tape. Second, Taipei has an open mind to the world and to anybody who has a good business offer. “What is more: I found the service-minded approach of the officer very refreshing. After her reluctance of giving me the business licence had lifted, she was all cooperation and offering advice. I have since learned that this wonderful attitude is part of Taipei’s business culture.”
Maruschka fell in love with this Taipei business culture during her internship that was part of her Sinology studies in The Netherlands. After graduation she decided to make a business of her language capacities and set up her office in Taipei. “Part of my business offering can be described as ‘guidance’ in a broad way. I offer my clients a full package of a tailor-made familiarisation business trip, and all the services that can be required to meet potential business partners and to get down to business. In the process, I offer cultural lessons, for example about how to prevent business partners to lose face.”
“If required, I hand-pick and check factories and arrange meetings with their managers. I support first-time business visitors to Taipei, visits with a specific focus and even visits of seasoned business travellers that want to make the best of their stay. I offer translating services, but I can also assist in searching specific suppliers and manufacturers for certain products.” Furthermore, Maruschka has close contacts with the Chambers of Commerce in Taipei.
Successful business trip
Without these services, it will be hard for western business people to have a successful business trip. “English is still not widely spoken among manufacturers. And most of them are not even listed in English language service directories. They need to be hand-sifted. In Taipei, I learned to investigate and to follow-up on leads in the interest of my clients. I spend days of searching and visiting dozens of factories before finding a truly dependable party.” Maruschka recently supported a client who was looking for a company that could manufacture a certain type of machines. “It was an intensive week of visits, lunches, dinners, drinks and negotiations. Everything went as smooth as could be hoped for and I am proud of having played a part in that. I am convinced that all the food, drinks and polite conversations have been very informative about how to get things done in Taiwan: with a lot of patience and good will.”