There is a huge amount of business potential in Indonesia for entrepreneurs, SME’s and small business owners. Jakarta is the biggest metropolitan city in the entire Southeast Asia region, which makes it a very attractive location to start a business or for business expansion. The city has a population of more than 10.5 million people, offering companies an opportunity to tap into a huge workforce of talented, motived and highly skilled people. 

Whether you are setting up a new business in Indonesia or you are expanding your company into this exciting marketplace, it’s important that you take some time to understand the local business etiquette. If you are coming from abroad, you will find that there are some distinct differences in how business is conducted in Indonesia and being aware of these subtleties will put you in a stronger position. If you are working from an office in the CBD or from one of the cities collaborative coworking spaces, you need to ensure that you put your best foot forward to drive your business in the right direction. 

Continue reading to learn more about the nuances of business etiquette in Indonesia so that you can build positive relationships with the local business community. 


Build A Relationship

In western business culture, it’s perfectly ok to get down to business right away. Everyone at the meeting knows why they are there so why spend time beating around the bush? In Indonesia, you need to take a more subtle approach to your business relationships. Customs and tradition are very important in Indonesia and it’s important that you take the time to learn a little about what is expected of you, especially in a professional setting. If you are seen to make an effort with the local ways of doing things, you will be able to build a relationship before getting into the business side of things. In Indonesia, this is a critical first step in building long-term business relationships


Understand The Hierarchy 

As with many other Asian cultures, hierarchy plays a huge role in how business is conducted in Indonesia. When you are at a meeting, you should make an effort to greet the most senior or the oldest person before anyone else. This shows a level of respect and your Indonesian business counterparts will appreciate it. It’s also important that you address people by Mr./Mrs./Ms.rather than on a first name basis. While in western cultures, being on a first name basis can be seen as a sign of a positive relationship, in Asian cultures this can be seen as impolite and even a sign of disrespect. 


Networking Is Vital 

No matter where in the world you are, who you know is often more important than what you know. Having friends in the right places can help you to get things done quicker and more efficiently. In Indonesia, this logic plays a huge role in business and it’s important that you expand your reach and build a large network of people around you. Name-dropping is quite common and knowing the right people can help you to gain credibility in the local business community. If you know a friend of a friend of the person you want to secure a meeting with having that connection can go a long way to getting you that meeting.  Build your network early and this will benefit you in growing your business. 


Understand The Etiquette And Grow Your Business

Indonesians are friendly, welcoming people and doing business in the country is a pleasure, especially when you understand the culture. Ultimately, it’s important to be kind and respectful, as you are a guest in their country. Bringing a gift from your home country can be a great way to break the ice at a first meeting and keep in mind that in Indonesia family is very important. With a little cultural knowledge, a respectful approach and a positive attitude, you will soon be on your way to a successful future for your business in Indonesia.