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  • Writer's pictureMichael Padilla-Pagan Pay

Business done the Turkish Way

So today August 30th is a holiday in Turkey, and as I sit here having my 8th cup of coffee from our office located in the Bomonti Business Center in Istanbul. I amazed at how some companies are averse to setting up shop in Turkey.   If Turkey isn’t on your international expansion list, then you are missing out. Forget going places, Turkey has already gone places. The transformation of the country at every level over the past ten years is clear to anyone who knows it well. Turkey is a bold, confident, cultured and connected country with a powerful manufacturing economy that will see continuous rise over the coming decades.

One only needs to look at the transformation of Al Thuraya Consultancy and Eksioglu Security to get an understanding of what the country has to offer to those willing to venture further. From a pretty basic and non-descript beginning, we have risen to being able to facilitate and support Turkish and multinational customer enter the market while also facilitating Turkish companies expand their operations globally. 

Istanbul vs. Anatolia

Turkey is a huge country with rich diversity at every level – geographic, linguistic, cultural, etc. A significant differentiation foreigner need to be aware of is the split between Istanbul and Anatolia (the hinterlands). Doing business in Istanbul could be generally viewed as being “easier”; it’s a large city, with prolonged exposure to European business, has large expat communities and the locals tend to be a lot more tolerant and accommodating. Go to Anatolia and you find people are notably more religious, more conservative and with a strong family orientation. However, this doesn’t make the latter more difficult; in fact, I would argue it’s easier if you know what you’re doing, are aware of who you are dealing with, where they come from and what they are about. Familiarize yourself with the cultural and historical wealth of Anatolia, and business wealth will shortly ensue. 

Making contact

To initiate contact with potential partners in Turkey, it is important to bear a few things in mind. Firstly, many people still don’t speak English to an acceptable standard. This has improved drastically in the past 10-15 years, but it is always best to send initial information to people in Turkish. That is why we offer translation services to our customer base, as well as translators that can facilitate live meetings as well. Secondly, Turks are relationship oriented and trust driven people. An impersonal call will always be labor in vain, so, -when possible- use intermediaries to introduce you. Lastly, don’t rely on emails, they are impersonal and won’t be treated with priority. Get on the phone and speak to people or even better meet with them! You will be surprised at the amount of difference it makes, to be able to put a face on the voice at the other end of the line.


If you do business in Turkey, expect a lot of food, tea and coffee. Turks love to entertain and it’s a central part of the culture to look after guests and offer hospitality. It’s important to know the protocol over who pays the bill – Turkish culture demands the host always pays; if they didn’t it would be a loss of face. Don’t ask to share the bill – that would make you look silly. However, insisting you pay will make you look good and appreciative. Insist on paying three times then give up and thank your host for their generosity and insist at the next meal, you are the host. 

Turkey’s stability is threatened. But so is everyone else’s.

In some ways, the Turkish economy relies on regional and global uncertainties, in that it offers a comparatively better place to do business. As a result, despite terrorist attacks and domestic instability, Turkey’s financial institutions, culture, and systems are better positioned than their counterparts in neighboring countries. This continues to make Turkey a good base of operations for many international businesses that have invested in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus — inherently high-risk areas.

In addition, the economic crises in Greece, Spain, Poland, and Italy, the economic slowdown in China, and the enormous business uncertainty posed by Britain’s vote to leave the EU all mitigate the relative severity of Turkey’s security problems. Turkey’s general credit rating is still higher than that of Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus, and Serbia. Despite its political risks, Turkey climbed two spots in 2015 to become the world’s 20th most popular destination for foreign direct investment.

Risk and Security Mitigation services:

Engage our Turkish speaking consultants who are here to help clients mitigate risks to their business and solve problems when they occur. Some of our most popular services in Turkey include, but are not limited to, political, regulatory and security risk forecasting, power mapping, screening of partners and suppliers, fraud investigations, security risk assessments, supply chain risk assessment and executive protection services. Please feel free to contact us and keep in mind the following:

 Travel advice (as of August 30, 2017): 

Normal travel to most parts of Turkey can continue with standard precautions.Take standard precautions to mitigate the risk of petty and street crime.Minimize time spent in the vicinity of potential terrorist targets, including government and military interests, symbolic foreign interests, places commonly frequented by Westerners, high-profile cultural institutions, political party offices and rallies, places of worship and transport hubs.Seek itinerary- and profile-specific advice for accommodation and transport options.Carry identification documents at all times to facilitate passage through checkpoints. Respect local customs and legislation.

Ankara, Istanbul, other major cities in western Turkey

  Normal travel can continue with standard precautions.Liaise with local contacts or our SOC center for information about planned demonstrations so that daily movements can be planned to avoid potentially affected areas; do not stop to watch or photograph protests, and leave an area immediately if a crowd begins to gather.Exercise increased vigilance and avoid spending prolonged periods of time in the vicinity of high profile tourist locations. At such sites, avoid large groups of people and visit at non-peak times of day.Minimize time spent at public transport hubs and infrastructure.Transport by taxi and rail is suitable for business travelers under some circumstances; do not spend an unnecessary amount of time at public transport hubs as a precaution. Private transport - with added benefits such as a driver's dual language capability and the option for flexible and monitored itineraries - is preferable or have our mobility management team provide you with the transportation and journey management capabilities.Do not self-drive unless familiar with local conditions; use a trusted local driver with appropriate language capabilities.

Explore what the country has to offer and be amazed by the diversity of opportunity! Enjoy all the benefits of having a trusted local partner, and see your business grow in the crossroad of Europe and the East, engage us to gain a deeper understanding and grow your professional capabilities in a variety of industries.

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