Working in multiple countries around the world for over a decade I learned a lot about who you should partner with and how to do partnerships. Here’s some tips that work in most countries and are not any different when working in Myanmar. But let me start with a 1A before I give you the main tips
1A “Lots of opportunities means finding a partner and starting a business venture will be quick.”
There are other people that come to Myanmar because they think it’s the last frontier and want to strike it rich. Most people that want to get rich quick in Myanmar either leave disappointed or lose all their money and leave disappointed. Myanmar is about building relationships, staying a long time, and reaping the benefits of sticking it out. There are people that I’ve tried to do business with that wouldn’t even talk with me unless I was living here for more than 2 years. They’ve seen a lot of people come and go.
Just because a country has a lot of things that others don’t have, doesn’t mean it’s easy to get something started.
The Main List of Tips
Don’t partner with the first person you meet
This might be obvious to most, but I’ve been told many times that people arrived and did business with the first person they met and now are stuck with a bad partner. Usually if you find someone available and they want to partner with you quickly…….they won’t be a good partner. You could get lucky though.
I met up with one business man in the region every time I traveled to his town over a 6 year period. After many dinners and conversations, he was ready to do some business together. People in Myanmar want to get to know you. They will do this by meeting with you often over a long period of time. This meeting ritual is a way for them to vet you and see if you will be a good partner.
The more clarity you have about who does what in the partnership, the better. Put it all on paper and have a lawyer look at it. Make sure you are both ok and can fulfill the roles. If you can’t, then go back to the table and try to make some adjustments.
It’s the most important thing really and it makes or breaks partnerships. Understanding who’s responsible for investment, how the profits are split, and when they are sold or you exit is super important. Again, you need to put it all on paper and agree on how you will handle.
I personally don’t do any partnerships without control of the money. I do a lot of project-based work but haven’t had any JV’s or Investments in Myanmar companies. I prefer project based and the money is clear so there is quick turn around on the money and it’s easy.
Have an Exit When You Begin
Know when you are going to exit the partnership and how you will exit it. Again write it down on paper and agree to it. You don’t want your money or role stuck in time so that you. Make a good exit plan from the start.
Make sure you are comfortable with all the arrangements in the partnership. Don’t assume things will go well. Think through all the ways it could go wrong and plan for it. Protect yourself and your investment.
By - Ryan Russell (CEO of Myanmar Business Answers)