Being an entrepreneur already has its challenges then adding another culture that is not of your own, always adds another dynamic. If you have started a business overseas or are thinking of doing so then here is some quick advice on what I have learned over the years.
- Know the Culture
You have to know the culture you will be stepping into. You will learn a lot on the ground that cannot be taught ahead of time but educate yourself on where you are about to transition to. Even if you are not living there full time, you need to know the country you will be working in and the people you will soon get really close to.
You need to know religions, tribes, cultural traditions that will affect your business. You do not want to come in naive, ignorant and as if you know it all – because, you do not. So, get off that high horse and begin to humble our heart. Learn about your people because they will become YOUR PEOPLE. You will need to know how to love, respect them, build trust and wonderful relationships.
Start becoming teachable now because if you have not already, you are about to step into a new global classroom.
- Learn the Environment
This is similar to culture, but in more detail. KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT. Know the people, how they think, work, pace of life, how they conduct meetings, etc. Know the demographic you will be working with specifically, know their average income, and financial stability, know facts. Start to learn about the politics, economic
situation of the country, the challenges the people face and more.
These challenges are not going to change overnight, so you need to prepare yourself to step into this and ask if this is a country you want to be in?
What is your motive?
What is your why?
Those two questions are very important because on the hard days – you are going to want to be grounded in those answers. Know your WHY.
- Find a Mentor
I would not only find a business mentor that has international business experiences, but I would also find someone on the ground that can walk you through legal advice. Legalities of any country are confusing, and you need someone who can help you with this from the beginning. You want to make sure you are doing it correctly from the start or having to pay penalties later or get in unnecessary trouble will be a headache and a waste of time. Find your person, register your business correctly, follow labor laws and ethics, etc.
Just do it right from day one. Save yourself the heartache.
- Embrace the Locals, become one.
You will get nowhere if you put a clear line between yourself and the locals. You are not better than them nor that much different either. Stop acting like the foreigner and embrace the awkwardness and throw yourself into the mix. Let the locals educate you on their culture and you educate them on yours. Find a mutual understanding and instead of putting a big wall between one another, slowly mesh together and become one. The more you immerse yourself, the easier the journey becomes. You will also start to make amazing friends in the process. Create your community and thrive in it.
- Find a Partner on the Ground
Find someone you trust who wants to walk this business journey with you. This is key to the success of what you do in any country. You need to find someone that understands you and has the passion for this business like you do. Someone who will run as fast as you and embrace changes as they come. You need someone on the ground who can help with communication, clarity and diffusion of the cultures. They can help simple logistics run smoothly and be a person to vision with. Find your person. When you know – you know.
My biggest advice is to just enjoy the process. Every day comes with a different challenge or celebration, but in the midst of building something you love – do not forget to look up and enjoy the community and culture. Not many people can say they are a global entrepreneur, so embrace the journey and the unforgettable moment.
Close that computer every now and then and go have some fun.
From your global, third world living, entrepreneur – keep your head high,