Expanding overseas is a great way to grow your business and make more money, but the language barrier can put many business owners off from doing so, or if they do decide to go ahead, it can make running a successful business overseas more difficult than it really needs to be.
If you’re a business owner and you’re interested in starting up new operations overseas, and you want to get it right from the get-go, here are some tips to help you manage the language barrier effectively:
Choose a Few Markets
It’ll be much easier to deal with any language barriers and communication problems if you narrow down your expansion efforts to a few key countries, instead of trying to expand everywhere. If you concentrate just on the markets that you’re likely to succeed in most, in the first instance, you’ll have a much easier time managing different languages.
Get the Right Language
If there’s one thing that can dampen a budding overseas business relationship faster than anything else, it’s using the wrong language! Many countries, including Canada, South Africa, and China have more than one, sometimes many more, official languages, so you need to be prepared to use the right one when you’re meeting with people or liaising with customers.
Hire Native Speakers
When you’re locating overseas, it almost certainly makes sense to hire native speakers from that country, who are also fluent in your own language. For instance, a shipping lawyer from IRB Law will be able to tell you what laws need to be followed when exporting overseas, and native speakers will be able to answer customer queries and translate for you when necessary, so that you don’t make any mistakes due to not understanding what is being said or what is required from you.
Do Market Research
When you expand overseas, it isn’t just the actual difference in language you’ll have to contend with; it’s also differences in culture. It’s so easy to use the wrong words in an advertising campaign because they are used differently from place to place, but by carrying out market research, surveys and hiring local advertising agents, you can largely avoid this and ensure you don’t use words that would be off-putting in your latest market.
Hire a Translator
It’s always a very good idea to hire a translator when you’re expanding overseas too. This should be in addition to hiring native speaking experts, like shipping lawyers, because you will need someone to translate various documents into other languages, and you will need them also to be able to translate actual conversations to you in real time. A professional interpreter is the best person to do this.
Keep Slang to a Minimum
Finally, if you want to be understood in business anywhere in the world, it is always best to avoid slang terms, local idioms and complicated jargon that is unlikely to be understood anywhere but the part of the world you’re from. This will help to avoid confusion and ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.