5 things you need to know before going global: how to avoid an international incident when taking your business abroad.

Author:Hughes, Alan
Position:Small Biz


And while opportunities for the small business owner increase substantially when looking outside the borders of the United States, so do the pitfalls. Among them is the fact that business is conducted differently in other cultures, and not being aware of that can result in a deal-wrecking catastrophe. There's more to it, of course, than knowing the proper way to present or accept a business card in China. It's doing your homework and understanding how best to start and maintain international relationships with those of other cultures that will help your business grow.

"The deeper cultural roots of how business is conducted varies so much from country to country, even from the U.S. to Canada, and from individual to individual," says Diane McGreal, director of Global Leadership Training Solutions Worldwide for Berlitz Languages Inc. (www.berlitz.us), who spent a number of years living abroad in Asia and Europe. Currently responsible for Solution Development for Global Leadership Training Worldwide, McGreal offers five things entrepreneurs looking to broaden their horizons need to know:

1 Know that in some countries, people are doing-oriented; in others, they're being-oriented.

A being-oriented person puts a whole lot more emphasis on a relationship and is motivated more by building solid, trusting relationships. It takes time and a lot of experience, and so quite often building a sound relationship is more important than meeting a target date. On the other hand, doing relationships are more about getting the task done. So, if I'm very relationship-oriented and you're very task-driven, we have a gap here, don't we, because I want to get things done and you want to get to know me.

2 Know the difference between fixed and fluid time.

In countries such as the U.S., people are fixed time-oriented and tend to define time precisely--a 2 p.m. meeting is expected to start exactly at...

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