Conducting business abroad can be a fantastic way to enable a company to expand to new markets and potentially see a dramatic increase in profits. At the same time, doing business is another country is never a simple, straightforward process. No matter what country you’re in, things are never going to be exactly the same as they are back home. Furthermore, you’ll be faced with trying to convince foreign strangers that your company is trustworthy and explain why they should choose to do business with you.
The fact is that doing business abroad almost always presents a variety of unique challenges and obstacles unlike those a company typically faces at home, and in order to be successful, you’ll need to be able to manage these challenges while retaining an appearance of calm, cool confidence. In this sense, you might want to consider instituting the following policies to ensure it seems like you’re professional and know what you’re doing.
Always Have an Interpreter on Hand
An interpreter might not always seem like it’s necessary depending on what country you’re attempting to do business in. However, even if the average level of English in the country is still extremely high, there is still a chance that you might encounter a few people who aren’t fully fluent. In this case, it can be almost impossible to communicated complicated business plans, pitches or ideas with any degree of understanding.
This is where hiring a reputable, experienced local interpreter can be of huge benefit. Although your potential clients or partners might bring their own interpreter, there is never any guarantee that they’ll be able or willing to fully explain everything you’re saying. On the other hand, an interpreter that your company is paying is much more likely to give a word for word translation. Just make sure that whoever you choose is skilled and knowledgeable enough in the language of business to get your ideas across.
Find an Appropriate Base for Your Business
Even if you only plan on being in the country for a few days, it is far better that you rent out a meeting space instead of attempting to use the hotel as your base of operations. Renting out a space gives your employees some place to gather and work without distraction, and it also ensures that you’ll have a professional space to invite potential clients to meetings. Choosing to rent a temporary base also shows local companies that your company is professional, serious about getting started and not going to take up and disappear after a short time.
These spaces can be surprisingly easy to find in some areas. While you may not find as much luck in rural Middle America, most major cities will have something for you. You can search for a space with terms like “meeting rooms in Salt Lake City” or “office rental London Ontario” and choose from at least a few options. For all of these reasons, it is most definitely something you’ll want to strongly consider.
Pay Attention to the Local Customs
Again, this factor is generally far more important for some countries than it is others. For instance, if you plan on doing business in China, Japan or another Asian nation, you most definitely need to ensure that all of your employees are fully aware of the local customs and business culture to avoid potentially offending anyone. Still, even if you’re doing business somewhere in Europe where the culture is more similar to your own, it’s always a good idea to be fully aware of the local customs.
Lunches and dinners are a frequent part of doing business abroad, and it’s imperative that your employees are prepared and know exactly how to act to ensure they don’t embarrass themselves or the company. In addition, knowing a few words of the local language or having a deeper understanding of the local customs, history and culture is a great way to ingratiate yourself with the locals. It also shows that you’re serious about getting set up in the country since you took the time to study and learn more about it. All of these reasons mean it’s absolutely vital that you familiarize yourself with the country and culture before leaving home.
Conducting business abroad can be extremely rewarding both on a personal level and for the financial health and future of the company. However, it is important that you take time to make sure you’re fully prepared before attempting to start your new overseas venture. Otherwise, you might find yourself slinking back home with your tail tucked between your legs before you can even get started.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.