Why I left a Government job, and chose Shibuya

Photo by TOMOKO UJI on Unsplash

Some of my friends are curious how come I returned back to “government” job.

The decision making process among Japanese corporations is slow — the speed is even slower in government sectors most of the time.

Did I like working with a government ? — nope, it’s super time consuming.

Do I love the paperworks and the red tapes? — nope, it’s tedious.

Why did I leave the government job? — well, I had to learn what’s really going on around international startup community. Otherwise I would not be able to build any practical solutions that really change the current red tapes.

2020 was the year that I determined to train myself, pursue my practical experience through working with different kinds of startups owned by non-Japanese entrepreneurs and see what kind of concrete issues they face.

International entrepreneurs face the issues of language barriers, business cultural differences, different market entry strategies, communication with corporate sectors… these are all abstract.

Based on the true story

I was originally from startup world before joining the previous government project. One of the startups that I was working for went almost bankrupt — this is the main reason that I started to work for a government-led initiative — just to survive in Tokyo.

Theoretically I learned legal procedures working on the government project, but I found I would not go further without knowing the real problems that international entrepreneurs were facing.

After quitting the government project, I started my business as a sole-proprietor by working for 5 international clients simultaneously. As a sole-proprietor, I enrolled in social insurance, filed tax, and negotiated the contract budget by myself. Practically I learned what entrepreneurs go through.

Photo by Luca Florio on Unsplash

So, why SHIBUYA?

Honestly, I would not have accepted any offers from government sectors if it was not Shibuya.

Working with a government is time consuming.

Not many things changed because I wasn’t internally working in the government office and could not decide everything. I had to face all the criticize — which is good in order to understand the real issues by listening to the real voice — from entrepreneurs, the government, and the corporation that I was working for. I could feel the frustration, but could not change the system.

Shibuya broke these obstacles that I had.

SSS team exists to make change. The team members listen, observe and action. The decision making is not one direction or top down.

Quickly adjust when need be. Allow the external supporters to speak, and negotiate with several parties based on the opinions of experts from startup world.

“Just do it” echoes in my ears. We cannot change regulations, laws or customs right away. City governments or municipalities cannot solely change. They have to discuss it with the Cabinet Office, Ministry or Bureau. Considering these complex discussion process with several layers of decision makers, Shibuya still moves quite fast.

No answer. Take risks.

Shibuya pursues new-normal to diversify the city.

Entrepreneurs take risks to start something new. They decided to give up a secured position with monthly stable salary in corporate world. They do not have income unless they keep moving forward and finding customers. 95% startups fail, but they try.

Photo by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash

We confronted a challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some startups pivoted their business and team structure promptly, and survived or even generated higher sales.

Some companies had to let the employees go because they could not pay their salary.

Find YES until we find it.

The Government of Japan announced various financial support programs in the spring of 2020, but no consultants, scriveners or attorneys knew the entire scheme to support companies or individuals with financial damages because all programs are new to all of us.

Each government offices appointed specific license holders to take care of the documentations to apply for the financial measures, such as Administrative Scriveners and Social Security Attorneys.

One of my clients needed a few million yen to cover furlough so I called several Social Security Attorneys’ offices. All of them said “there is no way that we can cover the full furlough amount.”

I visited different government offices until a person at the desk said “we cannot grant that the company can get 100%, but you CAN submit this document additionally and the subsidy office might offer the full amount.” Two months later, my client covered 100% of what they paid for furlough, and they did not have to let any employees go.

This risk averse consultancy is diminishing so many chances and opportunities for startups, and I know this conservative attitude to confront startup scene just does not go well.

and Shibuya knows. Shibuya members including the advisors and ambassadors know it based on their experience in relation with startups.

Most importantly, working with Shibuya members is comfortable.

Whenever I negotiated with conservative organizations, I prepare to get a hundred NOs in an hour. Before starting any discussion I assume only 10% of my suggestion would be accepted. The other 90% will not be achieved forever, or need 2 years to make it happen. Shibuya didn’t give me this impression.

Shibuya has been the attractive city for entrepreneurs, and Shibuya will be the best city to start a business for international entrepreneurs.
Let’s take the new challenge, and build a brand new initiative together!

Startup Work Inc.