A Best Practice Guide To Doing Business in Other Countries

08/28/13

Doing business in your own country is difficult enough, so how can you prepare for working across borders?

Entrepreneurs who want to take their business to a different country must be ready to face all sorts of cultural, commercial, financial or even legal differences. These can vary greatly from one country to another. So it is important to be well prepared before setting out to conquer new markets (remember our article about translation mistakes in advertising campaigns??). Companies need to have an understanding of the international context and more specifically of the market they are targeting. This will help them become aware of the challenges, and will also make it easier to follow the procedures.

Here is a method that is easy to remember so that nothing gets overlooked: the VIKU method

  • V – Values: research the values of the host country, its traditions, history, and customs. An understanding of the basic rules of protocol is also recommended when making contact for the first time. Etiquette rules vary from one country to another so it is helpful to be adaptable.
  • I – Interest: show a high level of interest in your contact person and future business partner. This shows respect for their way of life and their way of conducting business. For example, in some countries it is normal to start with a lengthly exchange about the health or even the family of your future partner, before negotiations begin.
  • K – Know how to communicate… preferably in the foreign language, or at least in English. It is recommended, however, to know how to be polite, such as saying “hello”, “thank you”, etc. in the language of the person you are negotiating with.
  • U – Unique: each culture is different, and therefore unique. Even if this is not the case for you, it is for the host country. This means you should not start negotiations in Cameroon in the same ways as you would in Thailand, for example.

Selling in foreign markets is beneficial for any company that takes the time to prepare a proper strategy.

It is advisable to seek training and to gather information as you embark on the journey towards a signed contract!