Going Global

By Anica Oaks

Expanding a U.S. company to international venues offers exciting opportunities for growth. However, certain aspects of global business should be kept in mind when establishing commercial relationships abroad. Here are five key aspects to doing business overseas in order to be successful.

1. Time: In other countries, time plays a different role in business than it does in the U.S., where time is money for most successful enterprises. In many regions, business is conducted in a more leisurely manner during recreational activities or entertainment events. It is not uncommon for business leaders to arrive late and for meetings to start late, or even be postponed. Being prepared to wait patiently is a necessary trait.

2. Culture: Social and cultural norms may vary widely in different parts of the world. In conservative Islamic communities, for example, like some in Saudi Arabia, Westerners should know that it is inappropriate to show special attention beyond a simple greeting, if introduced, to female members of Saudi households, unless the family indicates otherwise. The way Westerners sit, eat, and even shake hands can impact business relations significantly, so take time to become familiar with local culture. College degrees in diplomacy are a definite asset for those interested in doing business overseas.

3. Family: Family members may influence business negotiations. In some societies, large corporations are run by individuals who are related by blood or marriage. They may employ extended family members. In other cultures, family may be included in business entertainment events, including home-based dinners and parties, while in others family members avoid getting involved in business interests. It is helpful to learn about the culture’s traditions before participating in business and professional activities.

4. Negotiation: Negotiation in Western nations tends to be direct, although some deals take time to evolve. In other countries, business negotiations may take the form of haggling, much as we do in the U.S. when buying a car or home. In some countries, a middle man may communicate information between the local company and the U.S. company, for a fee, to ensure objectivity and fairness.

5. Language: Language in some nations may be veiled and oblique when it comes to business deals. In other countries the rhetoric can be exaggerated or even verge on untrue statements. Learning how to use and interpret diction codes in areas where you want to do business will be extremely helpful or even necessary.

Doing business abroad should be planned and prepared for in advance to maximize opportunities for success.

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.