There are people who are convinced that when opening up a new business overseas, you should bring your home country’s culture to the host country, and that the host country should welcome cultural differences. However, this is an assumption that could lead to unfavourable experiences for both the entrepreneur and the host country. One would be wise to research the country’s cultural differences before setting up shop.
The host country’s inhabitants will be appreciative of the efforts shown by the entrepreneur who displays their cognitive-flexibility. For example, if one were to do business in Asia, it is highly possible that it is a local custom, to take your time, when performing a simple transaction. One could be purchasing a soda and will have to wait 10 minutes to receive the product. When you are expecting efficiency to be the top priority of business, as in Europe and the USA, you could be in for a disconcerting surprise. In many parts of Asia, it is more important to spend time with each other or to get to know each than transaction efficiency is. Certainly, one could ask for their soda immediately and bypass the local customs, but this create unfavourable attitudes with the people you are doing business with.
A western-ethnocentric attitude could lead to being perceived as a bigot. Living in the western world can create a false sense of entitlement of knowing what the world should look like. Even in the western world, thinking that the western culture is simply ‘the best’ can lead to conflict, let alone in non-western countries. Understandably so, many people exhibit western-ethnocentric tendencies, caused by media influences. However, to maintain an open mind and to not limit your scope to what the media relays to you can broaden your horizon.
The entrepreneur who displays his cognitive-flex will have a much easier time engaging the local target markets. When you get into the process of doing business with new partners, exhibiting some local customs or behaviours will be a very pleasant experience for local inhabitants. They will feel as if their culture is respected. This way you will have an easier time finding out more about your target market. It’s understandable that it takes valuable time to learn about local cultural differences and behaviours. However, surely you will get rewarded for your efforts.
By adapting, you increase your mental wellbeing. When you take that extra effort to adapt to the local culture, people in said country will open up to you. They will be happy to show you more of their culture, creating a bond between the entrepreneur and the local community. You can use this to meet potential customers and friends. It’s arguably equally important to meet friends, as you will most likely need a strong support network when setting up a new business, especially in a foreign country. Some people may argue that they thrive better when they can completely stay themselves, however the benefits of connecting with the local community heavily outweigh the pros of stubbornly following your old ways.
In conclusion, entrepreneurs who adapt to local customs and behaviours will benefit financially and mentally. Adaptation may seem intimidating, however, the rewards it wields will surely help you to set up a successful business overseas.