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A practical guide for starting a small business

Australian Business Culture

Australian Business Culture History

Australian Business Culture has its origins from the British who immigrated to Australia over 200 years ago.  Even though the early immigrants were of British origin, many left because they rejected the beliefs of the motherland.  More than 100,000 of the early settlers were actually sent to Australia for a life of hardship because they were British prisoners.

This early history had a profound effect on the Australian Business Culture of today.  Understanding it will provide valuable insights for the foreigner who wants to do business with the Australians.

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Characteristics & Traits of Australian Business Culture

Honesty & Loyalty

Australians tend to have an opinion about everything which they will share openly.   Their business relationships can be classified as friendly and informal.  They do not like to do business with formal corporate snobs.

Business Greetings

Due to the Australian's friendly and carefree attitude, business greetings are often moved to a first name basis quickly.  A hello, smile, handshake with eye contact is the typical way to meet and greet an Australian in a business setting.  Stay aware from cultural clichés such as "G'day mate".

Sports Anyone?

Sports are such an integral part of the Australian society that business conversations often begin or lead to a discussion about sports.  The national past times of Australians are Rugby, Australian Football, cricket, golf, horse racing, tennis and all water sports especially swimming and water polo.

Humor - Was it Funny?

Humor is a part of the Australian character.  The style of humor is often mocking themselves and their country.  Australian men and women both often go about making jokes and poking fun at each other.  Although they are never meant to be offensive in nature, the right to tell these jokes are resides with the local Australians.  As foreigners engaged in business dealings, you can listen and laugh at their jokes.  However, do not engage in poking fun at their home country.

Australian Modesty

As a society, Australians tend to be modest in nature.  In business, they tend to avoid drawing attention to themselves by not volunteering information.  They may appear to be secretive.  Praise is rarely used in the business environment.  Australians expect you to do a good job. When you do, you are just doing your job.  So no praising is necessary.

Australian Freedom

Just like their ancestors from 200 years ago, Australians cherish their freedom of living where they want to live and do the things that they want to do.  Australians get to choose their careers and who they want to do business with.  It is not uncommon for them to pack up and leave a location if they are dissatisfied.

Australian Social Class

Although there are no formal social classes in Australia, there are traces of the ancestral class conscious British in the Australian culture.  Most Australians would consider themselves in the middle or upper middle class.  Many small business owners who fall in the middle class would earn a good living and can travel.  The accent of the Australian and the attendance of private schools can provide an indication of one's social class.

Business Style

Australian Business Style is considered to be informal, direct and optimistic.  “No” means “no” in Australian business.  There is no hidden context to their direct form of communication.  Australians prefer an informal business style.  A formal corporate structure is consider a burden.  They will also freely exchange their personal history with you once rapport has been established.

Business Negotiations

Australians are not a nation of hagglers.  Although they will negotiate in business contracts, they are used to paying for the asking price.  When negotiations do occur, you can expect an open and direct approach.

Women in Business

Although much progress has been made in Australia to accept women in the business world, the majority of higher level jobs are still dominated by men.  If you do encounter a woman, she would like you to treat her no differently than you would with a man.  Any personal or business style from the woman may be reflective of her company and not necessarily her gender. Companies hire employees because their style fit the company.  It may have nothing to do with their gender.

The above mixture of informal, honest and freedom loving business culture has been nurtured by Australia's 200 year heritage. By understanding and appreciating it, will make you much more successful in your dealings with the Australians.