March 01, 2003

A Venture Success Story from Japan? Yes?

I have been wondering if there have been any ventures that are growing right now in Japan, and have been sad to see little news of this type in the media I read. Then I read a story in a newsletter I get monthly called the Japan Entrepreneur Report by Tim Clark of the Sunbridge Venture Habitat. (I also heartily recommend Tim Clark's Japan Internet Report!)

Once you read the lead story on Freshness Burger and Book Off!, you get the impression that all you have do to succeed in business in Japan today is to promote "health, naturalness, environmental consciousness, de-standardization, personalization, individualization, and priority on high-touch over high-tech" at the workplace. And don't forget "aggressive outsourcing", "working for the benefit of others", "a clear, easy-to-understand pricing policy" and lack of legacy systems.

As someone who worked as a manager in Japan for a couple of years, I think that there is some truth to this idea, but it seems too narrowly applicable to me. Some of this applies only to retail services, some to all service industries.

Perhaps as Japan goes through the eye of the needle, and many moribund companies finally go bankrupt, there will be more openings for ventures to try new ideas. There is more than just fast food and books to go after, but the barriers to entry in other areas of the service sector must be signifigantly larger, since they have prevented other entrepreneurs from breaking into them so far.

I agree with Tim that service sector is the only sector in Japan that will show growth during this recession, but I am not sure if there are a list of ad-hoc rules that will work for all parts of the service sector.

Posted by cyrus at March 1, 2003 02:40 PM | T r a c k B a c k
Copyright 1993-2005 Cyrus Shaoul