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Becoming a domestic entrepreneur is a challenge, but at least you know enough about the culture to understand what is going to work, and what isn’t. Taking your business international, though, is an entirely different ball game. You don’t know what makes people tick, and so you can’t always work out what they want.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs often wind up making critical mistakes when they try to take their companies overseas. And it can often wind up costing them a lot of money.
In this post, we take a look at these mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
Failing To Assimilate The Culture
Assimilating culture is challenging. You have to step outside of your existing assumptions and then carefully observe how people in different places live their lives. It requires tremendous mental discipline and acuity of mind. Frankly, it’s not something that anyone finds easy.
Just look at the trouble that international chains have had exporting their business models to other parts of the world. Amazon is still a fringe player in Asian markets. Fast-food chain Subway continues to struggle to replicate its North American business model in India. And even banks, like Citi, struggle to replicate their business models across the globe. It’s a nightmare.
Before exporting overseas:
- Think about your target market and get to know them. If you’re struggling with this, get local people to do it for you.
- Take their word for it. If something doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to you, don’t just ignore it.
- Run with it.
Usually, the people on the ground know more than you do.
Failing To Get Proper Translations
We’ve all ordered products from China that came with poorly-written manuals. It’s kind of funny, but also frustrating at the same time.
Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs are perpetuating this problem when they sell overseas. They fail to use proper documents translation, and so they wind up with something that sounds totally unprofessional.
If you have any copy or media that you want to create in a different language, always get it professionally translated. Don’t rely on machines.
Failing To Visit The Business Itself
When it comes to managing an international business, many entrepreneurs take a decidedly hands-off approach. Not a good idea.
People on the ground will always tell you that things are going great. But unless you actually inspect what they’re doing yourself, you can wind up in all kinds of trouble. Remember, international managers always have an incentive to portray a rosier picture than what is happening on the ground—bear than in mind in your interactions. And make regular visits to your locations to check that everything is ship-shape.
Failing To Use International Accountants
Accountants are usually very good at managing domestic affairs. However, they will often struggle when it comes to international matters. If you have complicated tax relationships, you need to ensure that you get skilled people on your team to manage them. Otherwise, you could wind up paying more than you need.