Solid Japan LLC
With Poppy Calvert
Robert Crane is the head of Solid Japan LLC, a team of seasoned experts in Japanese business setup and support working closely with foreign firms and new businesses in Japan to help them get established quickly and properly, in full compliance with local regulations and requirements.

How long have you been in Japan?

I first came to Japan in the summer of 1996 on a government exchange program. My plan at the time was really to only stay for a year, but I quickly fell in love with the country and its people and decided to hang around for a while. Japan has been a part of my life ever since. I went back to Canada for a while, but eventually found myself back here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your company?

Sure. After spending the last eight years helping foreign companies do business in Japan, I decided to start my own company last year. We’ve basically assembled a team of top-notch specialists in a number of fields to be able to provide a complete range of business support services including company establishments, translation and interpretation, accounting and tax, IT setup and support, payroll administration, office relocation assistance, corporate design and branding, and corporate special event planning. We also offer a number of packaged consulting services such as our ‘Business Start-up Information Package,’ which gives new entrpreneurs everything they need to know about starting up a business in Japan. And we offer other consulting packages such as ‘IT for Start-Ups,’ ‘Project Rescue,’ ‘HR Rescue,’ and ‘Process Rescue,’ to name a few. We consider ourselves a one-stop shop for quality bilingual business support and advice. We work with all types of clients from new entrepreneurs just starting out to subsidiaries of foreign companies or Japanese firms requiring bilingual service. By outsourcing non-core services to us, our clients can really see a difference to their bottom line.

What are the Japan specific challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis?

The challenges I face these days aren’t quite as daunting as they used to be. I remember when I first came to Japan I couldn’t speak any Japanese at all and I ended up getting lost all the time and not being able to speak with people was very frustrating. Even now, I still get lost sometimes in Tokyo but fortunately my mobile phone has a GPS that can usually direct me to the nearest train station! One thing I never really get used to is crowds. I come from Canada, which doesn’t have so many people and has lots of wide open spaces, so adjusting to Tokyo took a little bit of time. That being said, Tokyo is probably the most exciting city in the world and a great place to live and do business. Sometimes I need to escape the city and luckily Japan has some beautiful, relaxing country areas only an hour or two away from Tokyo. As far as business challenges, obviously the Japanese market can be an extremely challenging environment for foreign businesses and entrepreneurs, but I like to see this challenging environment as an opportunity for Solid Japan to help our clients.

What advice would you give to aspiring professionals here in Japan?

I think it’s really important to go out and try the things you want to do and not be afraid to take a calculted risk. If you are convinced you have a good idea or plan, then don’t listen to any naysayers or negative people. I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who once said; “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” I think these are important words to live by for anybody.

What do you do for fun in Japan?

Well, I have a son who’s three and a daughter who’s seven, so I really enjoy spending free time with my kids on the weekends. I also like snowboarding and golf. My golf game is still quite horrendous, but slowly improving. I also like jogging and watching movies. This year I also plan to spend more time outdoors climbing mountains. Japan really has a lot of beautiful mountains and it’s been far too long since I climbed one!

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Solid Japan LLC