U.S. businesses looking to expand into other countries across the world quickly learn that tunnel vision is a recipe for disaster. Practices that work at home may be abject failures in a country with different languages, values and customs.
As the world becomes smaller through advanced communications, internet marketing, and ecommerce, businesses have easy access to new and emerging markets across the globe. Although the access is easy, the devil is in the details. According to an article Chron.com, challenges include different languages and cultures, different laws, communication and technology, and different environmental concerns.
"The global marketplace, coupled with the ubiquity of the internet, makes it possible for all businesses to play on fair ground," the article says. "However, that doesn't mean your business will be prepared to deal with customers from all cultures and languages."
Cultural and Other Differences Are Huge Concerns
Many issues must be considered when conducting business internationally. Three of the biggest are communication difficulties, cultural differences, and politics.
An article on Hult calls communication the most important consideration, as communicating across cultures can be a real challenge. And, it's more than a language barrier when communicating with workers, clients and customers in diverse countries. "Do your research and know how different cultural values and norms — such as shaking hands — can and should influence the way you communicate in a professional context."
American businesspersons in the international market should realize how cultural influences may drive acceptable business etiquette in the country they're working in, how religious and cultural values affect their clients' business decisions, and how cultural differences can influence market demand for their product or service.
Political uncertainty is a big factor in doing business internationally. Emerging markets may have unstable policies and some corrupt practices such as bribery. Changes in a government can be highly challenging as new directions in policy, changes in regulations and unstable interest rates throw your business plan out of kilter.
"A growing trend towards economic nationalism also makes the current global landscape potentially hostile toward international businesses," the Hult article notes.
There are a host of other differences between the American business model and operations in many other countries. Business News Daily talks about challenges ranging from international compliance issues to relying on experts.
International Compliance and Regulatory Issues: Each country has different banking regulations and tax structures that can be a real headache to an international organization. Foreign banks may also refuse to deal with administrative burdens of U.S. accounts, and a company may have to set up a foreign business entity.
Packaging: Local is the name of the game when doing business internationally, so this means packaging designed to meet local standards, including foreign language instructions.
Rely on Experts: Experts know the ins and outs of local business practices as well as how to work within the cultural norms of a different country. They are especially helpful when a company begins to set up shop.
Build the Right Infrastructure: The correct infrastructure must be in place so management can implement your plan from a satellite office.
Match Support With Customers: The U.S. system of customer support may be totally different than that of many other countries. Not only must you provide support in the country's language, but you must be aware of cultural differences and time differences.
Conducting business in a foreign land is a huge challenge, and companies embarking on those ventures need qualified managers. If you're interested in international business, consider the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Global Management online.
Graduates of this program are prepared for diverse roles such as global business administrator, global account manager and business analysis director, just to name a few. This AACSB-accredited online MBA program can be completed in 12 months.
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