What Does It Take To Become a Successful International Entrepreneur?
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in its annual report (https://www.gemconsortium.org/report) for 2017/18 observes that the last few decades have witnessed a significant global trend of entrepreneurship all over the world. Instead of the traditional trigger of necessity driving the need for a new business, in many countries, it is the opportunity that is increasingly becoming important in the growth of entrepreneurship.
Even though global travel to Asia and Europe, not to speak of locations within America, may seem to be very attractive, the long hours, different time zones, and the relentless pressure to do more can severely test both your body and mind.You also have to learn to communicate with people not accustomed to English and be sensitive to alien cultures. Many business owners are taken by surprise by the sheer effort doing business internationally. Some tips on what it takes to succeed internationally:
Get Accustomed To Keeping Strange Hours
If your business is going to cut across international borders, you can be very sure that you will need to be awake and alert at times that would be pretty strange to the rest of your family and neighborhood. If you are operating out of New York City, for example, and need to talk to your production manager in Shanghai, you need to remember that Shanghai is a full 12 hours ahead of you. Therefore, unless you get up in the wee hours of the morning, you will not be able to connect with him before the business closes in China. If you really want your international footprint to work, then you should forget about keeping the normal nine-to-five schedule and work when your partners work and sleep when you can.
Irrespective of all the methods of electronic communication that you can use, there is still nothing quite like having an interaction face-to-face with your team in a foreign country. This leaves you with no other option but to continuously shuttle back and forth long distances that can leave you completely jetlagged unless you are an expert traveler. It is important to stay well-nourished and hydrated to combat jetlag. Always listen to the demands of your body, eat whenever you feel hungry, and rest whenever you feel tired. While the first day at your foreign destination can be very tiring, you should try to stay awake until about 10 pm so that your body clock adjusts automatically to the new time zone.
Tackle Sleep Deprivation
The life of an entrepreneur is tough as it is, so try not to make it worse by staying awake at night due to overwork and jetlag. It is essential that you find a way to sleep, both while traveling and at the destination. Not getting adequate sleep can have severe repercussions; you will feel fatigued, unable to concentrate, and possibly end up making mistakes of judgment that will cost you dearly. There is no universal formula that works for sleepless travelers; some get relief by doing yoga, others listen to music or do some light reading while some even find working out beneficial.
Don’t Be Cocky In Your Home Country
Many American businesspersons who have successfully done business in foreign lands become a total failure running their operations in America. This usually happens due to the assumption that since they are Americans, they know everything there is to be known about America, especially the sales and marketing environment, and funding. While private lenders can solve your financing issues, you are more likely to face problems of getting your team together because of your preconceived notions. It may actually be harder to put together an effective business on the ground in America than in a foreign land where you are more open to suggestion and changing yourself according to the local environment. If you find that you are making too many mistakes or getting cheated far too often, it may be better to find someone with a good local track record and heed his advice; of course, finding someone that you can trust totally can be difficult but it is well worth the effort.
Be Open to Change
The first thing that will strike you at a foreign destination is possibly the significantly different culture. It is a good idea to bone up on the local culture before arriving so that you have some idea of what to expect on the ground. Instead of expecting the locals to be awed with the American culture, you should be proactive and embrace their culture by showing interest in various aspects of their lives. During the interaction,you will undoubtedly also be able to share something about your own culture. Even if your product is great, unless you are willing to integrate yourself into the local milieu and start thinking and behaving like them, building relationships will always be very difficult and business ventures prone to failure. Regardless of how successful marketing and sales has been in the U.S., you will have to localize to be successful.
Be Patient but Not Weak
When you are operating in a foreign land, especially Asia and the Middle East, the way people do business may seem very slow to most Americans. You need to keep in mind that not only are there cultural and linguistic barriers that both sides have to overcome but also, going slow may be a deliberate action for exerting more pressure on you and negotiating harder. It is very important to have someone who is well versed in how the locals do business and explain the finer points of their culture and motives to you so that you do not become aggressive and ruin fragile relationships. However, if there are genuine misunderstandings, you should show your keenness to sort them out and work for mutual benefit instead of allowing them to trample all over you.
As is clearly evident, the task of an international entrepreneur is quite tough. Not only do they have to look into the business aspects but also address issues of language and culture while keeping them fit, healthy, and at peak efficiency. Following these tips should help a lot.