Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Making the most of untapped international markets

2009 Economic Outlook
ATC News, Winter 2009

Levent Yildizgoren - MD TTC Language services

In these dire economic times, it is tempting for many businesses to shore up their finances and avoid taking what would be perceived in sounder times as run-of-the-mill financial risks. But while many businesses are battening down the hatches and trying to “wait it out” for a better economic forecast, they have failed to realise that in today’s global economy, eager customers and partners for their business may be closer than they can possibly imagine.
That is why, when your competitors are treating the current economic situation as a crisis, as a savvy businessperson, you can use this time to expand your business by reaching out to new, untapped international markets.
Chances are that your business is examining every aspect of its operations to cut costs or discover new sources of income. What you might not have considered is that an overseas supplier may be able to replace one component in your supply chain at a much lower cost, or that customers in another part of the world might pay a premium for your products or services. Perhaps you already work in a multicultural, multilingual organiation, or wish to open a base of operations in another country. It is often said that, with the advent of technology, the world is much smaller now than ever before. That is true, but no matter how small the world may seem, it can still be very daunting to reach across borders, cultures, and language barriers to find the absolute best solution for your business needs. But say you have identified an opportunity, or a part of your business that you think could benefit from a change.

So how do you start?
First, a review of your current international communications strengths is in order. You will likely find that many of your staff and business contacts have some international experience. They may know a foreign language, or have spent significant time in a different culture. You may even already be an international business with staff members stationed in countries around the world. It is important to note that, while having a staff member who is conversant in another language can be useful for details such as processing simple e-mail requests, it is always important to use services of a professional translation company for formal business communications. Not only will the translation company certify their work, but they will truly understand the customs and business etiquette of the culture with which you are making contact.
After completing your review of your current international communications experience, the next step is to create an International Communications Plan. In this plan, first identify skill gaps within your organization and pinpoint areas in which you need assistance or improvement. You will often find that you have untapped resources, or at least resources that can be repurposed toward international communication. This is also when you should identify what types of services, such as translation and interpretation, you will need to adapt to the culture with which you plan to work.
Finally, you must decide on your course of action. While international business is often very lucrative, it is sometimes easy to forget the extensive preparation that must go into making contact. For example, you will need a translator who truly understands the culture you are working with to prepare your business communications and also interpret returning communications from your new international partner or customer. The biggest benefit of teaming up with a professional translator is that you will have access to their experience and business savvy. For example, if you are in manufacturing, you will want someone who is knowledgeable about the terms, trends, and nuances of manufacturing in both languages and cultures.
Translation companies provide professionals who can guide you through the vagaries and nuances of international communications. We have all seen ludicrous examples of overly literal or poorly thought out translations. But did you consider that even some images could create a nonsensical or even offensive view of your company to people from other cultures? Not only will investing in a professional translation company ensure that you do not make any serious gaffes that could undermine your credibility, but it will also enhance your business communications resulting in a more professional image for your business, and smoother streamlining of your business processes.
When choosing a translation company, also be aware of when and how you will utilise their services. Perhaps you will only need them once in awhile, to interpret letters or emails. On the other hand, you may need them with you to translate conference calls or even to travel with you to meetings. Further, you will likely need to employ a translation service like TTC to assist with adapting your current business model, marketing materials, best practices and corporate culture to connect with that of your new business partners or customers. You would not go into an important meeting without preparation, and neither should you go into business with international partners without a professional translation company.
Conducting business internationally could very well be the jumpstart your organisation needs to stay ahead of the competition, get out of a rut, or simply beat the current economic downturn. Do not let fear of the unknown hold you back from what could be a lucrative opportunity. Strategic partners such as TTC are always ready and available to ease your transition by handling all of your international business communications needs.

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