8 Resources to Help You Launch a Small Business in Japan (Or Anywhere Else in the World)


During my recent Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup presentation, I referenced several books that influenced my entrepreneurial journey. Audience members also asked about legal services such as immigration and accounting. Read on for a list filled with several books, a podcast, and a couple of legal and accounting resources that will give you the confidence you need to build your business.

Recommended Reading (and Listening)

It’s natural to have doubts as the possibility of bringing your business idea to life becomes a reality. Turn to these books for guidance and confidence-building advice.

1. Linchpin by Seth Godin
Reduce risk before starting your business by gaining experience, building a network, and saving money while you are still working your day job. Doing so demands that you deliver excellent work for your employer. Seth Godin’s Linchpin is the most powerful book I’ve ever read when it comes to being the best employee you can be. Even if you don’t plan to work for yourself, this book is a must read—it will help you “recession-proof” your career.

2. The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Whether or not you start a business, you need to manage your career and personal brand just like an entrepreneur would. This book is one of the best guides you can find for doing so. The concept of having a Plan Z for mitigating uncertainty is especially important for aspiring yet risk-averse entrepreneurs.

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
It’s easy to dismiss this book as something that’s only for tech companies. However, the methodologies and advice in this book can apply to almost any business pursuit. I first applied the Lean Startup to my presentations, and later, it proved critical for validating my business ideas.

4. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
This book is all about differentiation, creating a compelling offer, and reducing any reservations that clients may have about working with a new, small business. It’s the perfect guide for a small, unknown business in a relationship-driven market like Japan.

5. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
When you set out to work for yourself, it’s natural to compare what you’re doing to those that have come before you. Unfortunately, these comparisons will often leave you with a lot of uncertainty and doubt. Rework illustrates that conventional wisdom isn’t always best for the modern small business. Just because something was done a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that it still has to be done that way in the present.

6. The Creative Class Podcast by Paul Jarvis and Kaleigh Moore)
If you are dead set on becoming a profitable, sustainable “company of one,” this is the podcast for you. Although not all the advice here can work in Japan, there’s plenty of content that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of self employment (contracts, pricing, etc.).

Legal and Accounting Services

Sole proprietors and small business owners need to focus on delivering their core products and services to their clients. Time is your most valuable resource, and wise investments in outsourcing non-core business functions pay off in the long term. As a new entrepreneur in Japan, immigration and tax laws will be among the first administrative challenges that you must address. The following firms have a proven track record in helping international residents in Japan succeed. Full disclosure: I use these firms for my accounting and legal needs.

7. Legal Mission (immigration-related legal services):
I’ve known Seiji Muromoto, the founder of Legal Mission, for over 10 years, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without his support. As a bilingual sole-proprietor, he understands the needs of Japan-based foreign entrepreneurs.

8. Sugai Accounting
Sugai Accounting offers a variety of service-levels to meet your budget and needs, and they can also help you determine which corporate structure is best for your business.

More to Come

These are just a few resources that have helped me both as an employee and a sole proprietor throughout my 10 years in Japan. In future posts, I’ll share additional thoughts, resources, and tools to ensure that you avoid the mistakes I made and discover a smoother path to success. Fill out the form below to subscribe to the Saga Consulting e-mail list and be among the first to know when I share new content.