Culture Shock Can Kill A Business
The domestic market isn’t always the best target for a business. Sometimes, you have to look a little further afield. Whether you want to move out of the English-speaking market or into it, there’s a lot more involved than just getting your marketing translated and starting relationships with overseas distributors and retailers. Your business and the way you do it will have to get fully acclimated to the culture if you really plan on excelling.
Knowing the language isn’t enough
If you learn a language from outside of the country, it’s likely that you’ve learned it in a traditional education environment. But you need more than a traditional education can provide. For instance, for non-native English speakers, spoken English grammar mastery is a skill much different from being able to read and write perfectly. You might consider yourself fluent, but how confidently are you able to carry out an organic conversation? Can you understand the subtext of a conversation as easily as you can in your native tongue? When it comes to dealing with other business owners, employees, and clients, that’s essential.
Culture’s a language all its own
While learning a language, you’re going to be exposed to the culture in some part, as well. However, failing to catch the cues of a culture can be disastrous for an entrepreneur. In US etiquette alone, there are many gestures and modes of communication that are all subtle cues that can cause people to change their judgment on you professionally as well as personally. In marketing, it matters even more. Failing to understand the norms of a culture can turn a seemingly innocuous piece of imagery into something that’s significantly more taboo. You have to learn not just the gestures and surface level communication, but an idea of how the values might change the message of your brand.
Stay above board
More important than anything is better understanding the legal landscape of a country. For instance, even from the UK to the US, there’s a great sense of liability and the risk of litigation between individuals and businesses. Every country has their own tax laws, their own employment laws and rights for employees, and their own industry standards. Failing any of these legal requirements because you’re not born in that country is rarely an excuse that will afford you any leniency. It’s your responsibility to brush up on the requirements of a country on your business before you set it up. Some legal requirements may force you to look at changes to the business model to account for any profits lost, but that’s just a reality of doing business abroad.
Moving a business or a business idea to a different country with a different language and culture needs a lot of planning. You need to have the proper communication skills to be able to manage a native team. You need to know the cultural cues and etiquette that will ensure you don’t embarrass yourself. You need to know the law. It might take time getting fully prepared to strike the world of business, but it’s worth it to save yourself the embarrassment of failing on the first few steps.