Much has been written about Russia in recent years. Stop and think what you have seen. Has it been positive? Political posturing, mafia, poisoning, shooting, corruption, non payment, expense, delays, grinding poverty, bureaucracy, blizzards, archaic industry, alcoholism, rude behaviour, suicide, nouveau riche, lack of democracy, lack of infrastructure. The list goes on. And on… So what about a reality check – Russia from a business perspective?
Russia is the biggest country in the world. More than twice the size of the next one down, Canada, and you could fit seventy UK’s into Russia if you tried hard enough. Think of Russia’s sheer needs in equipping the country with the hardware it needs. How many pumps, flanges, conveyors, hoppers, lighting systems? How much feedstock, cable management, whatever? How much indeed! This is massive.
Far quicker than any western European country, Russia pulled its way out of the world recession of 2009, and enjoyed growth within a relatively short space of time. Russia did not get it all right, of course, and issues still remain. But the economy has a lot of positive aspects to it, which allowed it to invest in its own infrastructure, whilst other countries struggled to get their economy back into gear.
Russia did not just win the bid for the student Olympics in 2013, the Winter Olympics and Formula 1 in 2014, but it also will host the World Cup in 2018. These represent major opportunities for those doing business with Russia. This is not merely about consultancy, or the construction of stadia, roads and infrastructure. It is also about telecommunications, media, training, retail, supply and logistics, consumer goods, food, transport, and yes, even metal bashing. These opportunities are huge.
Our company has consistently found that the Russians pay in full and on time. The same is not true of all the businesses we deal with for example in the UK, elsewhere in Western Europe or in the United States.
Some companies, knowing they should be looking at the Russian market, take little more than a cursory glance, perhaps doing some internet research, possibly sending a few emails, maybe talking to some colleagues or acquaintances, and quite probably taking stories from the media and from the internet. And almost unwittingly, these companies are “relieved” to conclude that the market is not for them, too expensive perhaps, or too far; too corrupt or too different. Or some other such excuse. And that is exactly what it is. And why? Because companies are nothing more nor less than a collection of people. And people will tend to do what they feel comfortable with. Russia is just not in everybody’s comfort zone.
Everybody knows something about Russia. But do they really?
Congratulations to the companies I know that have made Russia their market. There are many of you. But so many more could be getting involved.
Russia has never been big on projecting itself in a positive light. And current affairs make such a notion almost unthinkable. But business is business and maybe we could collectively do something different.