Before we delve into the connections between culture and the world of business, it is vital to familiarize ourselves with the term ‘culture’ itself. Culture is simply defined as the collective accomplishments of a society, differing from one civilization to the next. For instance, in Great Britain one of the main struggles in terms of the weather would be the increasing amount of rainfall that causes flooding, and has even resulted in deaths across certain regions. Let’s now compare this to Africa. Quite separately, the worry in Africa is that there is not enough water to ensure that millions of civilians can drink, bath and live a healthy life. This asymmetry is a direct result of the contrasting cultures.
Both cultures have evolved in quite opposite manners, due to factors such as rainfall. We must look at their cultures and intertwine them with our business ideas. For example, an umbrella may be sold for rainfall in Great Britain as well as shade from the sun in Africa. Consequently, if each country has a separate way of looking at the world, we need to understand their culture in order to be able to affiliate ourselves with them in order to form solid relationships, based on the understanding of different ways of living.
Do your market research
Now we have touched upon the meaning of culture it is now time to apply this to business. How can we successfully make the best amount of return when investing in a market abroad? As discussed before, one of the crucial elements to setting up a successful business in an unknown region is to first understand the unusual surrounding.
If this is a country nearby or you could visit the area for an amount of time, this would be the ideal market research. If you are able to travel to the country you wish to be trading with, you should immerse yourself fully into their society, meet locals and learn their traditions. When you see for yourself how the other society behaves, ideas will begin to come to you based on your understand of the differences and similarities of that particular country’s culture, compared to your own.
Why not also look at the other end of the spectrum, life as a traveller. The world, due to globalisation and many other factors, is becoming vastly explored and countries that were never popular tourist destinations are now swarming with backpackers. Maybe you could take not of these travellers in your business ideas as they, in many cases, tend to have money to spend on their trips around the world. Just a thought!
Of course, we cannot all find the time or money to fly across the globe in order to investigate, so doing your own market research is also entirely fine, as well as absolutely vital. In the world of business, we, in many respects, must always take a gamble when trading with another in the hope of a positive return. Nonetheless, there are ways in which we can minimise the risk of failure, and doing our own research is definitely one of them. Find out the cultures that are prominent in the country you wish to trade with. See what particular customs are imbedded in their society and see what they do differently to our society. For example, let’s say your business is selling animal paintings in Asia. If we look at the most commonly seen animals of Asia like a panda or tiger, they differ drastically from those seen in the West. We should associate ourselves with the animals of Asia, rather than something unfamiliar to the civilians.
However, quite separately, globalisation means that the Eastern world can be mirrored in the Western World and vice versa. For example, one of the most popular foods in Western societies is now an Indian curry. Many love to indulge in the spicy Indian cuisine while talking in English, within their Western society. This shows that culture is seeping through both ends of the equilibrium and cultures are meeting in the middle in many ways. People are becoming more open to other cultures and are welcoming certain aspects on board.
Now, use your market research to form international connections
Once you feel comfortable with a grounded knowledge of the culture of the country you wish to set up your business in, it will be much easier for you to make those all important connections with international representatives. People are much more likely to listen to your proposal if you have shown a deep and rooted understanding and knowledge of their society and what you believe the people want.
It is also essential to familiarize yourself with successful overseas markets, in order to compare and contrast your own ideas and bounce of the successful model in order to see if you are likely to be headed in the right direction.
When hoping to trade internationally, it is crucial to gain cross cultural training in the country you are dealing with. When the appropriate market research has been achieved and an understanding of the society has been reached, it will be much easier to form associates abroad and there is a much higher rate of success than taking the gamble.
For more information please visit the IoDB (Institute of Diplomacy and Business)