By Jason O’Brien

We work in an ever-changing business world, where keeping up with the latest trends and technologies is essential if you want to find success in your industry. In recent years, we have seen technology make travel and trade between countries much more accessible. This helped to coin the idea of a ‘shrinking world’.

As more people move to work in different countries, and reaching a global market becomes increasingly easier for businesses, the importance of being multilingual is clearer than ever. Communications experts TollFreeForwarding conducted research, and spoke to experts within the industry, discovering some of the key benefits being multilingual brings to business.

Increasingly Diverse Market

With the ease of travel in modern times, the opportunity to work abroad has become very appealing. So, not only are workforces across the world becoming more diverse, but these businesses should also be looking to cater for a more diverse audience. Multilingual employees will better be able to communicate and understand the needs of a multinational market.

Keith McNiven, Founder of Right Path Fitness, has had personal experience of running a business:

“At Right Path Fitness we are just in the process of opening our first private studio on Liverpool Road in London. We have been extremely lucky to find a new receptionist who speaks Spanish, English and Romanian. Having multilingual staff means we are better able to cater to the huge diversity that London offers.”

It’s likely this trend of people moving to work in other countries will continue, and your business will see more success if it can reach a broader market.

Improved International Reach

While the markets become increasingly diverse and multilingual, so too is the need to reach more audiences to be successful. The ability to grow your businesses reach into new markets is becoming increasingly important to survive the competitive nature of today’s small businesses.

Language doesn’t need to be a barrier if you’re looking to beat out competitors, and even if you have employees who can speak a second language, having an employee native to the country in which you’re selling puts you at a huge advantage. For example, in a sales pitch, a multilingual employee speaking their first language will have no issues with communication but will also carry a more confident approach and a better understanding of their audience.

Kalina Halatcheva, Managing Director at nouri agrees:

“Face-to-face contact will never diminish in importance. You may write a business email or message in English, but the meaningful way you can connect to another person in the local language can never be substituted.”

Multilingual employees have confidence and knowledge of other markets and cultures that will lead to success in the global market.

Marketing Strategies

As well as communication being a barrier, cultural understanding can be a pitfall for businesses looking to expand their outreach. When it comes to marketing, you need to make sure you’ve got concise, understandable strategy if you want to find success, and multilingual employees can help you do so. A classic example of how easily this can go wrong would be KFC’s expansion to China in the late 1980s. Their famous slogan ‘finger lickin good’ was first translated too ‘eat your fingers off’, and as you can imagine, it did not have the desired effect.

This simple error can have huge impact on your business’s success in different markets. Prioritizing making your business multilingual would eliminate the risk of this happening, while also giving you a good understanding of different cultures, and what strategies would be successful.

Lindsay Williams, Founder of Linsday Does Languages, agrees that small businesses should be looking at all the benefits being multilingual can bring them:

“Speaking another language isn’t just about knowing words and how to put them in the right order. Being multilingual gives you different perspectives on the world, encouraging a wider understanding and acceptance of cultural differences. When we understand that, businesses can more successfully branch out into international markets.”

Marketing can be expensive, so employing multilingual workers could be a good investment for the future.

Multi-Skilled Workers

Learning another language develops transferrable skills and adaptability that’s valuable to businesses. Increased mental flexibility, metalinguistic abilities, improved executive function, and a capability to learn a second language are just a few skills you could benefit from as a business owner.

Training multilingual employees in-house to perform several roles will save you further recruitment or hiring temporary staff for different tasks.

Nedelina Payaneya, Digital Marketing Specialist at Asian Absolute said: “Bilingual employees often bring new perspectives and strong problem-solving skills. They tend to possess excellent communication skills and a greater understanding of other cultures. In an increasingly globalized world, they truly are an essential component of business growth and expansion.”

Developing lasting relationships with a multinational audience is becoming increasingly valuable, and prioritizing being multilingual will go a long way in helping you do that. Invest in these multi-skilled employees and your business will reap the benefits in the future.

Jason O’Brien joined in October 2007 and has helped fuel the company’s growth by building the operational infrastructure for sales, customer service, billing and technical support. Prior to joining, Jason held previous leadership positions in manufacturing, distribution, and aerospace companies including Boeing. @TFFSocial

Multilingual stock photo by pathdoc/Shutterstock