Achieving success in international business: a brief guide
Ready to take your business to the world stage? While many others have succeeded before you, it is a monumentally difficult to take what works in your home country and have it achieve robust results for you in another country.
Even Target failed spectacularly trying to expand into Canada, our next door neighbor. If you think you can plug your business model into markets like China, India, or Brazil and expect to rake in the cash without putting in some serious work, you are fooling yourself.
In this article, we’ll share a few tips that will start you down the road to success in international business.
1) Get a top-notch education
While many tout the street experience they’ve gained from the so-called school of hard knocks, there’s no replacing the leg-up you get on your competition by learning from the insights of others.
The best way to do this is to pursue a Masters level education in business. By enrolling in programs like the Full-time ESSEC Global MBA, you’ll gain access to information that will allow you to hit the ground running while your competitors suffer the fits and starts that comes with learning through trial and error.
Basing its curriculum around the present-day realities of internet-fueled commerce, your problem solving skills will be put to the test as you be forced to consider issues through the lens of different cultures.
2) Be aware of local customs
After initial e-mails and phone calls have been exchanged between foreign contacts, an in-person meeting will usually follow.
When you connect for the first time, it is essential you at least avoid embarrassment in preliminary interactions with factory owners, overseas investors, etc.
Do your homework and see how greetings are done, what culinary etiquette should be followed, and so forth.
They might be expecting that you won’t get it 100% right the first time, so by coming prepared, you will impress them right from the get go.
This will increase the chance of a favorable outcome for you and your business, so study up and practice foreign customs before getting on a plane.
3) Know what makes a particular culture tick
Once you have made successful inroads into a nation overseas, you then have the challenge of marketing your product to customers who are nothing like the people you are accustomed to serving at home.
For example, McDonald’s in India only sells chicken, fish, or veggie-friendly burgers, as this nation’s two dominant religions (Hinduism and Islam) ban beef and pork respectively.
If this venerable fast-food establishment had stubbornly stormed into India trying to sell beef Big Macs, they would have lost their shirts in record time.
In the same way, you need to take a long look at your business operations and think about they will be perceived by the general public in the country you are targeting.
Make changes, assess results on a regular basis, and adjust your strategies until you deliver what your target market wants from your business.
4) Strongly consider learning the language of your biggest international customers
While you can get by with a foreign contact that can translate on your behalf, learning how to speak the dominant language in your biggest overseas markets can help you gain deeper insights into how the culture operates.
Some concepts don’t translate well into English, which can cause you to miss subtle nuances that could drive your results to new heights.
Attend language classes in your free time and practice as much as you can with overseas business partners.
Do this and after a while, you will be able forge stronger business relationships with them and you will be able to achieve better results with consumers halfway around the world.