Tips for Doing Business in Global Markets

Dlisaploegblogoing business in global environments can open up lucrative opportunities and at the same time can increase risk exposure. Most business initiatives focused on growth involve the need to adapt and tolerate some risks.  So the question is – how do you minimize those challenges when doing business globally?  In a recent interview with Lisa Ploeg, Senior International Learning and Development Specialist with Mary Kay, we discussed the following questions and identified some resources with tips from the experts:

What cultural competencies do you need to work effectively in global markets?

Speaking the language is usually the first cultural concern people have when working internationally, but there are other basics that should be considered.  For example, for an American traveling to Madrid it would be useful to know that in the evening restaurants don’t open until around 9:00 PM because that is when people in Spain eat dinner.  Know the customs and etiquette before you go and you will have fewer uncomfortable moments and surprises.

Try to learn about cultural dimensions: Americans working with Latin Americans would benefit from understanding that they are perceived as “transactional” while Latin Americans are “relational”.  Americans are typically friendly and interact quickly to transact business without needing to know personal information, whereas Latin Americans want to get to know you, and maybe share a meal with you, before they will close a deal. There is more value placed on building personal relationships and establishing trust between business partners in most cultures in South America. For North Americans, this is often less important than getting down to business.

The best bet is to be open and curious.  Make the effort to understand and accept the cultural tendencies and differences of yourself and others.  Ask questions like “how do you do “this” here?” and “what is the word for this?”  This can help improve working relationships regardless of culture. When I give training classes, I ask people to translate key words for me (like “trust”) and give example of how things are done in their country. This helps break down barriers and I enjoy learning from them. My advice is: know yourself, know the other culture, and be adaptable.

Here are some resources to learn some other “dos” and “don’ts” while interacting in another country:

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands:  The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway

Lisa Ploeg’s White Paper written in collaboration with Bloomberg BNA:

RW3 Culture Wizard:

Global Chamber Dallas, Korina Smith, Executive Director:

How do you stay current on political dynamics in specific markets and insure safety when traveling?

Read up before you leave the country.  Here are some useful resources for current data:

The State Department:

The World Trade Resource:

World News:

U.S. Embassy

How do you minimize financial risks when doing business globally?

Work with the experts to provide risk management information and trade credit insurance to guarantee that you get paid for the products/services delivered.

Euler Hermes is an excellent resource for protection against commercial and political risks.  They provide trade information on companies you would sell to such as non-confidential financial data, payment behaviors, in-depth analysis, etc. that allow your company to grow safely but aggressively in to new markets, the bi-product of this being trade insurance. Contact Noll Saunders, Risk Management Consultant, Euler Hermes North America, 214-998-1750,

Other resources:

PricewaterhouseCoopers country-by-country tax reporting:

The Economist: