In 2007, American exports to India increased an astonishing 73.4% over the previous year. India is already among the top 20 trading partners for the United States and will rise to the top 10 in the next decade. Indian entrepreneurs have just begun unleash their prowess in an economy that began to liberalize in 1991, 13 years after China's did.

If you had any doubt in India's potential, the groundbreaking $1.2 billion deal between Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg and Indian billionaire Anil Ambani (worth $42 billion according to Forbes magazine), should get your attention. Ambani is investing $500 million to help Spielberg and friends make DreamWorks SKG a private, independent company again.

Marketing executives and entrepreneurs alike have rushed to China in the last decade. Yet, today, India offers an excellent, although somewhat misunderstood, alternative

As home to Asia's oldest stock market and the world's largest democracy, this country of 1.1 billion holds enormous profit potential for companies and executives alike. But only if they go in with the right attitude and an open mind.

Let me shatter some myths and then share a few nuggets from my many years of helping Americans win in India.

The Myths

Myth: There are 350 million middle-class Indians waiting to buy my goods and services.

Though the Indian government may legitimately claim that a third of its population is "middle-class" by its own standards, it's ridiculous to base a marketing plan on an imaginary 350 million Indians with single-family homes complete with white picket fences, 2.1 cars, and a dog.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gunjan Bagla is Managing Director of Amritt Inc., an American consulting firm which helps companies to succeed in India. His book Business in 21st Century India: How to Profit Today from Tomorrow's Most Exciting Market is published by Hachette's Business Plus.