Deciding to expand globally is only the first step in a long process to a successful international business venture, and the American way is often applying our standards to their ways of doing things. One of the biggest mistakes U.S. companies make when expanding internationally, according to Mona Pearl in Global Markets Are Not Just for Large Companies Anymore, is not understanding the culture of doing business in the target market. But understanding the culture is the only way to move the relationship forward.
“Here in the U.S., we’re quick to say ‘so-and-so is my friend.’ We talk to someone and we say he’s my friend,” Pearl says. “But in many other countries, until you break bread with someone, until you really know them, until they invite you home and tell you about their family and all of that, it’s not a relationship. You’re not a friend.”
Another mistake is not doing product research to see if your products will work in the target market. In many countries outside the U.S., the jumbo-sized everything just doesn't fit into households, so the need for U.S.-sized products may be minimal.
Make sure you make connections in the country early and are able to take the time to understand the culture before pushing your expansion investments forward.