Learning as you go is an extremely costly way to build a business from scratch in Japan. From office space to web designs to accountants, mistakes can EASILY amount to several million yen in just the first year alone.
Without a strong Japanese language ability and cultural sensitivity, banks will make it extremely hard for you to work with them. Merchants and other prospective customers will look at you like you carry a smart bomb in your rear pocket. Generally speaking, every conceivable challenge will head your way (including having to pay $700 or Japanese equivalent in taxes for a business which didn’t make a dime for a year)…ouch!
My firm advice based on experience here is to
1) find a Japanese partner who handles all administrative duties and initiates contact with businesses and potential contacts.
2)Stay away from freelancer sites because they – for the most part – do not let the client talk with the freelancer other than through their website chat messenger systems.
3)Expect to spend over a million yen for a “reliable” website developer and administrator, if your site is to be in Japanese.
4) Have a go-between to rent or lease office space/land.
5) Expect time-consuming, frustrating time bubbles when registering your company. Understand that whatever place your register your company in Japan, you will have to pay more than $500 plus professional fees to move to a new address.
6) Get off your high horses about the superiority of whatever culture you came from and realize that humility rather than aggressiveness will get you further in Japan. Well-meaning, intense change agents often choke to fiscal death on their own vomit.
Japan -despite rumors of its death – has boatloads’ of opportunity. Prepare yourself, however, for being in for the long haul and swallowing some pride when necessary.