Business connection in Iran are built through personal relationships. In doing business with Iran you need to start, develop and maintain connection throughout. In this relationship driven environment connections play as important of a role as regulations and the right connection will help overcome barriers.
In developing connections, businesses must conduct enhanced due diligence to ensure partnerships don't result in more harm than good.
Importance of cultural norms are a key factor that should not be ignored. Cultural knowhow is the key to business success and can help personal and professional relationships.
Adhering to generally accepted social norms is also a key factor. For example punctuality is not a must in Iran, and people often attend business meetings with some delay. One should not take offence or interpret same as discourteous or offensive. Similarly, International standards such as Generally Accepted Accounting Practices or Corporate Compliance are not part of Iranian business culture and its lack of practice should not necessarily be construed as bad business.
Government-affiliated and other well positioned entities can provide advantages and disadvantages for foreign companies entering Iran. Those organizations are big players in the Iranian economy and their support will give foreign companies a significant advantage in establishing in Iranian markets. However, their connections will give them a strong advantage over foreign companies should an internal dispute arise.
Understanding transparency and lack of it thereof, regarding company registration, ownership, compliance, rules and regulations together with knowledge of sanctions, as well as broader social and political monitoring are also of great importance in conducting business in Iran.
Because Iran is politicized in the United States and the Arab world, companies operating in the country should practice proactive partner identification to avoid probable conflict of interest.