Understanding international business culture is arguably one of the top keys to success for global organizations. As you take your company into new markets, you need to not only master the regulatory requirements, you must also know your audience.
Culture is very critical in many foreign countries. Essentially, there are many differences between the United States and the rest of the world when it comes to cultural norms. These differences range from common greetings to scheduling business meetings and everything in between—each of which can make a huge difference when interacting with foreign partners, clients, and customers.
Tip #1: It Starts with Hands-On Research
You can research on the web and talk to colleagues who’ve been to your target country, but the best way to fully understand your new location is experiencing it for yourself. Hands-on international experience is a must when you’re going global. Not only will it give you a clear picture of what to expect in your new country, traveling will also increase your credibility.
When you’re planning your global expansion strategy, be sure to book a trip and bring along key members of your team to experience the culture first-hand.
Tip #2: Learn the Business Basics
Nearly 40% of U.S. businesses choose the European market for international growth. It’s Western culture and familiar languages make a move to Europe an easier transition for most U.S. companies.
But, culture isn’t just the customs and traditions ingrained in the country; it’s also the way people do business.
For example, in China, it’s expected that everyone involved in a business meeting will receive a detailed agenda prior to meetings.
In addition, business people should dress to impress when working in France. Appearance is important in French culture.
Finally, in Brazil, it is important to avoid giving business gifts that are purple and black since those are colors of mourning. It’s also a bad idea to gift anything that’s sharp, such as a set of knives, which means you want to sever your association. However, you can give gifts that are unique to your country such as a book or trinket.
Tip #3: Work with an In-Country Partner
It’s definitely not expected that you and your team know everything about your new country’s culture. As a result, it’s smart to work with an in-country partner that can help you understand how to operate in the new market. When choosing a partner, make sure they have years of experience in your country. If you choose to work with a global partner that is close to your HQ, make sure they have strong in-house expertise. In addition, find a partner with a strong, diverse networking in your new market. A large network means that the provider has the ability to build strong relationships with many people, which is key in global expansion.
Velocity Global has assisted hundreds of companies expand into over 185 countries and counting, each with unique challenges and goals. Our International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) solution can help you establish presence in your new international market as quickly as 48 hours—virtually anywhere. As your Employer of Record, International PEO allows us to hire on your behalf so you can remain focused on your day-to-day operations. Is it time for your organization to go global? We’re ready when you are.