Did you know that September 30th is International Translation Day, an annual celebration which pays tribute to translators around the world?
We take this opportunity to provide our readers with an insight into How Interpreters Juggle Two Languages At Once, via a wonderfully produced 5-minute TED Ed video. This should help you better understand how to have your interpreting service needs satisfied. Have fun!
Recently Bloomberg has indexed the most innovative states of America. Massachusetts tops the list with California scoring a close second at only 0.03 point less. Washington, New Jersey and Connecticut take the rest the top five seats. Mississippi, West Virginia and South Dakota are the three least innovative states.
The Route 128 area of Boston eked out a victory over Silicon Valley, as Bloomberg's ranking of the most innovative states in the U.S. illustrates how universities can juice local economies. The home of more than 100 colleges, Boston gets a great number of intelligence supplies regularly.
Solely MIT graduates have produced around 400 startup businesses over the past few decades, including Framingham, Massachusetts-based electronics maker Bose Corp. which has created a "cluster" of companies that are attracted to the strong business environment and in turn propel the labor market and growth.
According to Bloomberg, "Massachusetts was able to edge out California, perhaps in part because high-tech density was measured via number of companies, rather than market capital. That meant that the world's most valuable company, Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc., couldn't lift the state to the top spot in the ranking."
Read the full story on Bloomberg reported by Michelle Jamrisko and Wei Lu.
Regional accents are changing. Globalization is part of the shift, but so, perhaps, is voice recognition software like Siri.
It turns out that people have to talk differently to their phones from they do to their friends. An article in The Guardian says that some people in India and Australia report that their phones understand them only if they "fake an American accent."
In the U.S., writer Julia Reed complains that, "A smart person could make a lot of money by inventing a Siri for southerners."
So what do we do? Shall we produce enough versions of software for users' convenience to speak in their own accent, or shall we create an international common denominator for what we say and how we say?
A trend to watch.
Reference: "Cross-Cultural Communications" newsletter 2/12/2016
Author: Nicole Fallon. Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.
For most entrepreneurs, building and maintaining a local customer base is one of the first steps on the road to success. Once they have achieved this goal, some business owners feel they're ready to take on the next step: expanding internationally.
Becoming a global company is an impressive feat, and not every business that sets out to do it accomplishes the goal. To successfully convert your business from domestic to international, you'll need to consider a new set of factors that might not necessarily affect a local-only company. International business experts shared their insights on what it takes to break down your company's national borders and run a multi-country operation.
Are you ready to go global?
Creating a strong international presence is rarely as simple as telling your customers you ship overseas and then waiting for the sales to roll in. There are numerous things to think about when selling and marketing in another country, and these factors must be considered carefully. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your business is really ready to expand.
Have I ensured that a customer base exists in the country or countries I want to enter?
A product that sells well in your home country may not necessarily have the same appeal elsewhere, so it's crucial to invest time and energy into researching potential foreign markets.
"First, make sure your customers exist," said Joseph Paris, Jr., chairman of business consulting firm XONITEK and founder of the Operational Excellence Society. "Is there a need for your offering? Are they inclined to purchase? Don't think that they might — know that they will."
Mike Zani, CEO of business consulting firm PI Worldwide, advised traveling to the country or countries you want to expand into to really do your homework and get a first-hand idea of how your business will fare. This will give you the opportunity to not only conduct research and test your product in the foreign marketplace, but also to experience the culture and social norms of the people you'll be marketing to, he said.
Is the foreign market I'm looking at compatible with my own market?
Michael Lee, head of international marketing and business development for e-commerce platform Alibaba.com, advised looking for markets that are similar to yours. While the business environment won't be identical to that in your home country, you should make yourself familiar enough with it that you can ensure smooth, seamless business discussions.
"Take into consideration trade barriers, proximity, currency and culture," Lee said. "Seek out homogeneity — the fewer differences between your country and the one you export to, the easier it will be to do business with [that country]."
Do I have the available resources and staff to focus on both expansion and my established business?
Trying to juggle an overseas operation while maintaining your current domestic customer base with a small staff is incredibly difficult, and you likely won't be able to sustain your growth. Before you decide to expand, make sure you have the financial and structural stability to add staff members who can handle the new influx of work that comes with such growth.
"An organization should have a strong team solely focused on international growth that is ready to face challenges and fully support the expansion," said Taki Skouras, co-founder and CEO of international wireless accessories retailer Cellairis.
The challenges of international businessWhile the international market may be a perfect target for your business, expanding beyond your home country isn't without its challenges. Here are a few that you'll need to prepare for.
Language and cultural barriers.
Selling to customers or working with vendors who don't speak your native language can be a significant obstacle for any business owner. That's why Skouras recommended hiring bilingual staff members who can easily translate back and forth.
"If you don't have the budget for full-time translators, outsource tasks like overseas customer service and translation of promotional materials to freelancers," Skouras said.
Beyond language, differing cultural norms may also stand in the way of a successful business expansion, if your company doesn't respect them. Lee advised entrepreneurs to research cultural practices in the countries they plan to expand into, especially as these may relate to the company's product or service. Foreign customers' and business partners' needs may not be the same as those of your domestic stakeholders, and this could affect your sales, marketing and overall business strategies, he said.
"You will have to understand the different ways people communicate," Paris added. "For instance, in northern Europe, there is far less 'chit-chat,' and you might feel that the party is being blunt to the point of rudeness — this is not the case. In southern Europe, there is a lot of personal conversation and activity before business issues are addressed, and cutting to the chase is seen as being impatient."
Tax codes and compliance issues.
If you think it's difficult to navigate the various tax codes and business regulations from state to state, try selling in another country. Paris reminded entrepreneurs that the United States taxes worldwide income, and the IRS also imposes special reporting requirements on this income. Additionally, foreign banks may be hesitant to deal with a U.S.-based account due to the administrative burden, so you might need to set up a separate, foreign business entity and bank account to make handling transactions worth while for the banks.
Paris also noted that other countries have different labeling and packaging standards that you may need to comply with, depending on what you sell.
"In the states, the instructions you include with your product will be in English — sometimes Spanish or French," Paris told Business News Daily. "But in Europe, your instructions, even for the simplest product, will be in multiple languages, sometimes up to 24 languages. If your product is sold more regionally, you will have to consider the increase in packaging cost associated with labeling. In addition, your product will have to be certified as safe [by those countries' standards]."
In America, the business world moves pretty quickly. Executives and even lower-level employees work day and night, making appointments and closing deals long after they've left the office for the day. David Hellier, partner at Bertram Capital and board member of ACG New York, told entrepreneurs that business doesn't move at the same pace in other countries; building relationships is a long-term commitment.
"Overseas, doing business is as much a personal event as it is professional," added Bill Bardosh, CEO of green materials and chemicals company TerraVerdae BioWorks. "You may be able to broker a deal just through formal business meetings [at home, but] in China and the Far East, it is necessary to spend extensive time getting to know your counterparts outside the boardroom during tea sessions or dinner banquets, for instance. Things will always take longer to be resolved overseas, but that isn't necessarily a sign of a lack of momentum — you have to be patient and prepared for multiple interactions to build trust."
It's not always easy to convince a foreign customer to purchase your company's product when there's a comparable product available that's made in the customer's home country. While some big-name U.S. chains like McDonald's and Starbucks have clout overseas, small and midsize companies need to work a little harder to convince the international market that their brands are trustworthy and better than the competition.
"Why would [customers] buy from you over the local champion?" Paris said. "Can you penetrate the market? If you do, can you be profitable under the circumstances? Is the juice worth the squeeze?"
Advice and best practicesIf you feel you're ready to tackle the challenges of international business, follow this advice from business leaders who have been there before.
Find the right partner(s).
When you're expanding your business, it's critical that you don't try to go it alone. Even if your "partner" is in the form of a mentor, you'll need the help of someone you trust, who can vouch for you in the country or countries you're looking to break into.
"You need someone who has a passion for your brand, understands ... the local market, has experience in the [industry], has capital needed to grow, and ideally has additional businesses where he or she can leverage shared resources," said Jim Rogers, chief marketing officer of Tony Roma's restaurant franchise.
Hellier emphasized the importance of setting expectations when seeking foreign business partnerships, and really sticking to them.
"Know what you want in a business partner or acquisition, and have a clear understanding of expectations," Hellier said. "Sticking with those expectations ... will help avoid aligning with the wrong partner or investing in the wrong business. Oftentimes, businesses will give up too much to a partner just to get into a new market or country. You don't want to be stuck with a bad partner."
Hire a great team.
The need for help "on the ground" also extends into your hiring practices. The people you hire to deal with your overseas business partners and customers must be fully immersed in the local environment, but you also need to be sure they'll be looking out for your interests.
"The foreign companies that you may deal with probably have more experience doing business in the U.S. than you have in their country," Bardosh said. "Without a core team on your side with the necessary cultural, language and local business contacts, you'll be competitively disadvantaged."
Consider the impact of any new ideas.
Introducing a new product or marketing campaign becomes a whole new ballgame when you operate internationally. Instead of only thinking about how your own country's customers might receive your new ideas, you'll also need to think about and accommodate for the impact these ideas will have on your foreign customers.
"As you 'spitball' new ideas, someone definitely needs to think about scalability to your international territories — usually you," Zani said. "Time zones, language and cultural appropriateness all need to be considered when you branch out internationally. If you don't do this ahead of time, you run the risk of offending your international partners by appearing to be more concerned about yourself [than] them."
Remain consistent in branding, but adapt to the environment.
As mentioned above, varying cultural norms and customer needs in foreign countries may require you to adjust your sales approach, or even your whole product. Rogers noted that while you must stay true to your overall brand, it's important to tweak your product (or menu, in the restaurant industry) slightly to account for local tastes.
"[Allow for] appropriate localization and flexibility to adhere to local customs and customer needs," Rogers said. "One of the key areas to adjust is with [material] sourcing. If you can maintain quality, local sourcing has the opportunity to improve cost margins and supply-chain reliability."
Always do your due diligence.
Any major business decision requires taking the time to think through all possible scenarios based on your business' strengths and weaknesses, but this is especially important for international expansion.
"Research each aspect of your business strategy," Lee said. "Explore alternatives and safeguards. Do as much as you can to understand the markets you are entering, and take your time to get it right."
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8211-expand-business-internationally.html#sthash.lpFN6kGn.cTNpYufd.dpuf
by Jason Popp
My first international meeting is etched in my memory -- and not in a good way.
I was a young expat in Budapest. For the first time, I had the responsibility of organizing an international press conference to introduce a new product to the market. My mind swarmed with everything I’d learned about event planning. I was sure I had done it all. I made a Gantt chart, thought through every moment of the conference schedule and made enough contingency plans to paper the walls.
I lived and breathed that plan. But what I learned as the conference began and quickly veered off track was that only experiencing the unexpected could teach me how to pull off a successful meeting.
Here’s what I learned the hard way (so you don’t have to):
1. Plan for the unexpected.Because I planned my first international event so meticulously, I arranged for an indoor venue in case of rain. What I hadn’t anticipated was that our star speaker, Formula One driver Mika Häkkinen, would have a difficult-to-understand Finnish accent and that our translator could only understand “classic” English. Things will happen that no amount of planning can fix, so stay on your toes and smile. A positive, flexible attitude is worth a thousand contingency plans.
2. Simplify.When a restaurant’s menu is 50 pages long, it can take the fun out of choosing a meal. It’s overwhelming. The same goes for a conference with too much going on. Keep the itinerary simple and on theme. Also, remember that many international delegates won’t speak fluent English, so keep flowery or slang-filled language out of presentations and materials.
3. Keep a local flavor. Give attendees a unique travel experience by including details that are typical to the host country. Maybe you could serve a meal made with local ingredients, host an outing to a local attraction, participate in a traditional custom unique to the area or give away a goody bag of local treats. Special touches will give attendees a real vacation feeling, and they’ll be much more likely to forgive odd logistical oversights. Plus, they’ll leave with positive local memories and be more likely to return to the host country.
4. Accommodate for jet lag.A conference can become naptime if jet lag isn’t incorporated into the schedule. Bear in mind that delegates might need to take a conference’s first day easier than the rest. They might also respond well to outdoor time or a room with lots of natural light to help them stay awake.
5. Keep the event going. An international event is a high-cost, high-risk and high-reward occasion -- so get the most out of it. Follow up with attendees via email or Skype. Keep sending out relevant materials. Capture videos and pictures at the event and share them with the group. It’s never too early to start drumming up excitement for the next event.
Responsive International Shopping
When designing your online shopping experience, consider what platform your intended audience will use for purchases. In the U.S. and Europe, most consumers still use the desktop, with only 30% of U.S. e-commerce sales coming from mobile devices.
However, within the U.S. there are large demographic differences. Surveys show that hispanics in the U.S. tend to shop far more on their mobile devices then other demographic groups, so if your products or services target that market, you should spend extra effort testing the user experience on a small phone with relatively slow speeds.
Keep in mind when planning for 2016 that mobile growth rates vary tremendously from country to country, and just like in the U.S. there will be pockets of consumers who have different shopping habits. So, when you localize the shopping experience for each market, do your homework and optimize for the type of buyer, the download speed, and the likely device. And don't forget to check our blog from November 3rd for advice on big shopping holidays around the world.
Considering going global or expanding your global operations?
The U.S. government lists the top 15 countries for exports of goods.1 Canada tops the list, followed by Mexico and China.
Current retail numbers show a likely softening of the U.S. market, so you'll want to pull out all the stops next year. This means localizing for niche markets within the U.S., and creating marketing campaigns for each local market outside the U.S. Tailor your message, translate product manuals and packaging, carefully consider color choices for websites and product packaging, and staff up so that you can answer customer questions in multiple languages. The more effort you make to reach out to customers in their own languages, the more likely your sales will take off.
You may even need to do some language adjustment for English speaking countries. Some terms that you use might come across properly. For example, did you know that if you tell a group of U.K. business people that you want to table a matter, they'll think that means you want to discuss it right then? Be sure that the words you use mean the same thing overseas. And, as always, avoid translating humor. Either re-write it to suit the local market or leave it out altogether.
Start your globalization process by researching potential markets; just 15 countries account for nearly 75% of all U.S. exports.
In order, they are:
Localize For the Domestic Market
Most of our large cities have pockets of immigrants where English is rarely heard and local newspapers circulate in foreign languages. Increase your market penetration by advertising in the local language papers; translate your tv ads and your social media posts. And don't limit yourself to the hispanic population, many cities have large groups of Chinese, Tagalog, French, Vietnamese, Russian, and Arabic speakers as well.
Tis the season to send out mass emails to customers and prospects hoping to cash in on the holiday spending spirit. If your business is global, you need to give a little extra thought to your holiday missives. It may be fun to send a Thanksgiving greeting to your U.S. customers, but your European clients won't be celebrating the day and your message will fall flat. Likewise trying to woo your Asian customers with Christmas deals may not be the best strategy, but many overseas cultures do make a big deal out of New Year's.
Your best option is to put together a calendar of your major markets and their holidays. What should be on it?
Singles Day, November 11.
A new holiday, begun in 1993, it is now one of China's largest shopping days, far eclipsing sales for U.S. holidays. Alibaba, the online Chinese retailer, pounced on Singles Day, and in 2012 doubled the revenue U.S. companies grossed from Cyber Monday. In 2013, Alibaba racked up $2 billion in sales in the first hour of the day. With that success, it's no wonder that Alibaba is hoping to export the holiday to the U.S. and Europe.
China, Vietnam, Korea:
Lunar New Year and National Day holidays, late January to February. Because this is a lunar calendar festival the dates move every year within this range.
This is one of the largest shopping holidays for these countries. People buy clothing, food, and luxury items to give as gifts. In 2015, Chinese tourists to the U.K. spent an average of $1,100 per person on new year's gifts. In Vietnam, sales increase up to 50% just prior to the new year's celebrations. Keep in mind that many stores close for the holidays themselves, and most of the shopping happens in the days and weeks leading up to the big celebrations. If you are a B2C company, you won't want to miss out on this holiday.
India's largest shopping holiday is Diwali. Another lunar calendar event, it can fall in October or November.
Jewelry and cars are especially popular holiday gifts, as it is believed that buying expensive items can bring good luck. Some malls report a 20% increase in traffic during the holiday, with customers often spending most of a month's salary on gifts.
While the U.K. does participate in Cyber Monday, their other big shopping day is boxing day, the day after Christmas. In 2014 they spent £2.7 billion that day alone.
In 2014, January 7th was the highest grossing shopping day of the year, with more than double the average day's sales. France was the only European country to have its best shopping day after the holiday season.
November 18th, El Buen Fin or the anniversary of Mexico's 1920 revolution is a major shopping extravaganza. A four day event, in 2014 it grossed $14 billion.
This list of holidays should get you started on thinking about when your customers will be walking the malls and surfing the net for the best deals. Personalize your email and social media campaigns and tailor them to each market, and you'll have a happier and successful holiday season.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.
Communication problems exist even when talking to people in our own language. How many times have you left a meeting thinking everyone agreed to the plan and that everyone was working on the same goals, yet, it turned out that everyone did not agree and, in fact, they were all going off in different directions?
These problems are only compounded when additional languages are introduced. If your team members are participating in their non-native language, it is virtually inevitable that there will be misunderstandings. As a leader, your job is to check-in with each team member to ensure that they understand and that team members are comfortable asking questions and to checking assumptions. As a team member, it is your responsibility to speak up, ask questions, confirm you understood properly, and raise flags.
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
If you are giving a presentation with non-native speakers in the audience, you should really consider hiring a professional interpreter who will not just translate word-for-word, but will ensure that the entire meaning is correctly relayed to the audience. Non-professional, bilingual speakers often think they know the right word, but it can be off just enough to confuse the meaning of the sentence. Translation and interpretation is an art form that requires an understanding of the subtle differences of word choice.
Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Aristotle
Most of us have heard Aristotle's advice to tell them what you're going to tell them three times. This is even more important when your information will be relayed in a second language. By translating or interpreting the ideas multiple times, not only does the information get reinforced but also ambiguity is reduced. In meetings, take the opportunity to double and triple check that what you have said was understood and reiterate the action plan to ensure everyone agrees on next steps.
"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker's quote demonstrates the need to be aware of cultural biases. So much of communication is reading between the lines. How we convey information can tell us as much as what is said. More problems arise when we communicate cross-culturally and nuances can get lost in translation. All cultures have conventions that as natives we are hardly aware of: body language, looks, phrasing, tone, and ways of implying without coming out and saying what we're thinking. Much of this gets lost in language conversion, so if you're working with non-native speakers you need to be much more explicit than when dealing only with one culture/language.
How many times have we heard that communication is key, yet we take it for granted. We have too many meetings every day, too much email hitting our in boxes, and hundreds of texts and online forum responses to make. Slow down and be very mindful of what you're saying and how you're saying it, and check-in frequently to make sure that your communication is two-way and that all parties agrees about what was said.
Top photo credit: VicJuan via Compfight Creative Commons