The relentless pressure, the late nights, the failure, the long hours. Being a businessman is a task. Being an international businessman, however, means all the regular hurdles of running a business plus a ton of new problems; the need to learn a foreign language, jet lag from constant travel, and the ability to fit into a new cultural environment. But it’s not all pain and suffering, the highs are rewarding.
Here are 4 things every successful businessman should know.
As an international businessman, you have to know the regulatory restrictions in any country you choose to do business in. You can take business registration, for example, even if you don’t plan on living there you still have to register your business at a physical address in the new country. Also, some countries limit the property rights of foreigners. Again, some countries’ regulations stipulate that one of your business partners must be a native.
Finding out the facts, or hiring someone who understands compliance, means that your company won’t be liable to pay hefty fines, or worse, shut down.
Financial translation is the conversion of financial documents, statements, audits, reports, insurance, etc from one language to another. As an international businessman, you’ll be working with different banks from all over the World. This means all kinds of financial documents will need to be correctly translated.
The common misconception that financial translation is only needed by large multinationals is false. For example, a small goods company looking to supply to China or South Africa will need to translate documents into a version the other party will understand. This is just one example of many examples.
Now, it is tempting to think that you can translate these documents by yourself with a few tweaks. The truth is that financial translation is a specialized skill and you need to invest in a professional financial translation service because financial rules differ from country to country. While union legislation has attempted to create a harmonized system of regulations like the IFRS(International Financial Reporting Standards) or the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), those are applied by large companies and rarely Small Medium Enterprises (SME). A professional translator is better equipped to know the nuances than you.
No one will take you seriously as a businessman if your financial documents are not in perfect order.
Canada, Cameroon, and Samoa are all countries that have English as the official language, but you can’t use the same marketing and sales strategy in any of these countries.
It’s easy to focus on the language barrier in international business relations and forget the cultural barrier. To succeed in the international business community you must become good at adapting to different cultural practices.
Let’s take a business deal scenario. Negotiating business with Germans is vastly different from negotiating with Italians. Germans prefer direct communications in a business setting. Jokes are considered unprofessional. Italians on the other hand, view business relationships as personal, so you’re more likely to seal the deal if you focus on building a friendly relationship than if you go straight to business talk.
Another cultural case study is how Best Buy’s failure to adapt cost them their Chinese market. Best Buy made the mistake of building huge flagship stores like in the US. But the traffic congestion and lack of parking space meant the Chinese market preferred smaller convenient retail stores in their neighborhoods, close to home.
Economic climates are a factor in the survival or otherwise of a business. Income disparity and inflation will affect business sales even in a market with huge potential.
A successful international businessman should know that no two economic climates are the same. While you should find out the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries before you commence business operations there, a more detailed way to analyze the economic climate is by evaluating the country’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).
The GPI is a more nuanced metric for an economic climate that takes everything the GDP metric takes into account plus figures for the negative effects of economic activity such as cost of crime, cost of environmental pollution, and income disparity.
The formula for GPI = Cadj + G + W – D – S – E – N5. Where:
- Cadj = personal consumption factoring in income distribution
- G = capital growth
- W = welfare contributions
- D = defensive private spending
- S = acts negatively impacting social capital
- E = costs associated environmental degradation
- N = acts negatively affecting natural capital
A successful businessman must not only be well versed in the technical knowledge of his business, but he must also possess soft skills to succeed.