Do first impressions lie? On paper, the company looked impressive. Out of the six potential partners that we’d shortlisted, and that I’d travelled to Mumbai to meet, this one looked the best on paper. Rajesh, the young CEO who came to meet me at my hotel looked the part too – immaculately dressed, well spoken, and clearly well organised, as he laid out paperwork and photos on the table in front of us.
All was well until I said “So where’s your office? Let’s go there”.
These days, it’s easier than ever to dissimulate having a successful business. Websites can be created easily and cheaply. Serviced offices can be rented by the hour. Out of country and out of area phone numbers can be got, using Skype, for a few pounds or dollars.
So, if you’re serious about doing business with someone, particularly in another country where you’re not going to have day-to-day oversight, you need to check them out in person. As the Americans say, “lift the hood and kick the tyres”. Don’t rely on the word of a local representative in your own country. Don’t accept meetings at hotels. Don’t believe what you see on a website until you see it for yourself.
Not all that glitters is gold.
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