Cultural sensitivities to keep in mind when doing business in Asia

Anybody who has been paying attention to markets over the past couple of decades can tell you that emerging markets is where its at when it comes to getting great returns.

Most industries in developed parts of the world have reached or passed the maturation phase, making the creation of real wealth effectively impossible for most investors.

However, many growth economies can still be found in Asia. From China to Indonesia, those willing to dive in head first have a great chance of finding investment opportunities that could earn them a considerable return on their cash.

However, life here is completely different compared to the West, making it challenging for new arrivals to adjust to the way business is done there.

Bob Stefanowski has built up significant experience in Asia, helping to run 3i Group’s interests in the region since 2009.

In that time, he has come to understand the special considerations one must make when trying to establish a foothold in this challenging part of the world.

In this post, we’ll go over several concepts you’ll need to comprehend before you can enjoy real success in Asia.

1) Rules vary greatly compared to those at home

As alluded to in the intro, the way things are done in Asia often represents a complete 180 to how we do things at home.

These societies have been influenced by schools of thought and religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, and Islam. As such, there are cultural considerations that can serve to throw an unexpected monkey wrench into your plans.

Planning meetings on a Friday won’t work in the Middle East, as this is the Sabbath Day in the Islamic calendar.

Even things like touching people on the head and pointing with your feet can get you into trouble in laid back countries like Thailand, as these gestures are highly offensive to Buddhists.

Have an executive assistant do in-depth research on a target country’s cultural beliefs before departure, as this will allow you to leave a good first impression.

2) Hand out business cards printed in their local language

An initial meeting might not end with a business deal. As such, it is always important to leave a new prospect your contact info.

Most do this by leaving their card, but few think to create a special batch before taking off for a place like China.

Your initial contact may understand English, but if your card is passed off to someone who only knows Mandarin, they won’t be able to get in touch with you.

By printing the other side in a second language, you expand your reach, and you leave a positive impression with those who know English as a second language.

3) Learn about the concept of ‘face’

Of all the things you’ll learn before heading off to Asia, the concept of ‘face’ is the most important concept you should internalize.

It is a sociological concept which refers to one’s personal or family prestige. Many people in Asian countries are obsessed about how others view them, leading them to go to extraordinary lengths to build up a reputation and to protect it.

Any action that may embarrass your hosts should be avoided at all costs. Avoid putting your contacts on the spot, as they may say yes even if they might not be able to deliver. If they fail, they’ll end up losing face, which could have bad consequences for you.

Instead, be patient in your dealings with Asian business contacts, and you’ll eventually end up in a situation where you will be able to get what you want.

Why Your Business Needs a Digital Marketing Strategy

Most business owners are aware that they need to invest money into some form of marketing or another, in the past this would be things like posters, fliers or radio and newspaper ads, perhaps a TV commercial if things were going well. The World of marketing however has now changed dramatically and it is for that reason that people like Joseph Cianciotto started his business working in digital marketing.

Digital marketing uses very techniques from how things went down in the past and yields far better results thanks to this enormous community that we have in our hands called the internet. If you do not have a digital marketing strategy for your business, then here is why it is time that you did.

Competition

If you do not yet have a digital marketing strategy then you can pretty much guarantee that at least one of your competition does. If this is the case then you are losing out on the chance of an incredible amount of exposure to new clients and customers and worse still, your competitors are taking them with a huge smile on their face as their sales grow.

Online Presence

Even if you do not have a business that has anything to do with the internet, it is vital for brand growth that your business has some kind of internet presence. A digital marketing strategy will ensure that people know who you are and what you do so that the next time they need a service like yours, it will be you that they look for.

The New Age

The World now operates online, customers buy more products on their phones and their computers than ever before and if you do not have a strategy that taps into these millions of potential customers then how can you possible expect to survive in the marketplace. Think of it like this… You are situated on high street A, for years it was the only high street, then high street B was built and it was packed with new and exciting stores, high street A has store closures and far fewer customers whereas high street B is thriving, packed with consumers from all over the World each and every day. What do you do? The sensible choice is to open a branch on high street B and that is exactly why you should be investing in digital marketing and letting people on the internet ( high street B) exactly who you are.

More Sales

The ultimate reason that anyone invests in any form of marketing is to make more money be it through brand growth, direct sales or any other route, the desired destination is always the same, making more money. This is exactly why you should be utilizing digital marketing, this approach has a staggering return on investment and will drive a huge amount of sales to you and your business, sales and exposure that you simply cannot afford to miss out on.

How to Start an Enterprise of Your Own

Nowadays, it is easier than ever to start a business of your own, so long as you have some business acumen and, unfortunately, some funding. However, actually running the business can be incredibly difficult, unless you really know what you are doing. Understanding all the different aspects of business life is a huge task, which is why so many people now choose to start a franchise instead. And the home care franchise is a particularly popular one.

What Is a Home Care Business?

A home care business is a type of business through which nursing care is provided in the homes of patients. It is staffed with medical staff, such as paramedics and nurses. A home care franchise owner is responsible for finding those members of staff, and ensuring they are properly deployed. By doing this properly, you will ensure that people can remain in their comfortable, familiar homes, retaining their dignity and independence.

Setting up a Home Care Franchise

Setting up a home care franchise starts by obtaining a license from the Department of Human and Human Services. They will inspect your own home, or other business premise you want to use, ensuring that you have the ability to actually run such a service. Once you have your license, you can start hiring your staff. The franchise opportunity, meanwhile, will ensure you know what the procedures to follow are, and who to hire and where from.

It is very important that you only hire people who have the right recommendations, references, and experience. Unfortunately, people have been known to falsify their qualifications, so it is vital that you actually check this. After all, they will be responsible for the lives of people, so they must be truly competent at what they do. Your staff has to be passionate, efficient, and reliable at all times and you are responsible for checking this.

You will also need equipment in order to star this business. Your franchise company will have a list of the equipment you need, and where to get it from. Some may even supply you with it. You will also receive a lot of advice in terms of where to get funding from in order to purchase the necessary equipment. This may mean taking out a bank loan, but no business can be run without getting into at least some debt, unfortunately. After all, without the equipment, you can’t run a home care agency.

The final thing you will have to do is find clients. Again, your franchise company will help you to do this, supplying you with advertising and marketing tools, as well as contacts in your geographical area through which you can find clients.

Starting a business is stressful, but it can be done. And through a franchise, you will be provided with a tried and tested blueprint to help you achieve success. Considering the growing need for in-home health care provision, it is no surprise that this particular field is hugely successful.

Looking to Break the Glass Ceiling? 8 Strategies for Successful Women

Do women really need to break the glass ceiling? Looking at the accomplishments of stalwarts like Mary Barra, Virginia Rometty, Indra Nooyi, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, it is evident that women are not just capable of ruling the top echelons of the business world. But, they are perfectly capable of running whole nations.

And, research has proved this for a fact. According to the results of a study published in the Harvard Business Review, the most successful venture capital investments are the ones that have at least one woman founder. In fact, such startups of the Silicon Valley performed up to 65% better than organizations with all men on their boards. Go figure.

And, there’s more! At least 50% of students entering college in the West are women. Once they leave college, they’re going to be standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. They’ll have similar qualifications, and they’ll be looking for the same career advancement opportunities and high salaries. Women will have fabulous, highly innovative ideas, and they’ll be ready to break the glass ceiling.

Are Women Likely to Have These Opportunities? In Today’s World? Maybe Not!

As Sarah Thebaud at the Princeton University found, women today still face bias because of their gender. They need to work a lot harder than their male peers, display higher performance levels, and come up with outstanding entrepreneurial concepts to be taken seriously. Raising funding for their ideas is a lot more difficult. It’s a fact that men with less innovative ideas find it much easier to get investments.

And, that’s not all. Women continue to be judged according to their appearance. A beautiful woman needs to play down her looks while an everyday woman might need to work on her looks to gain enough attention. Every woman executive needs to maintain a strong, reliable persona that is trustworthy, smart, dependable, and who knows her stuff. At the same time, she cannot seem too enthusiastic, or her male peers might feel threatened by her strength and resourcefulness. And, they’ll make it more difficult for her to break the glass ceiling.

Steven Applebaum from Concordia University reveals that the results of his research showed that only around 3% of the top executives of Fortune 500 companies are women. He says, “Women are still perceived as inferior leaders. This ill-conceived notion needs to change—and fast. At the current rate, we won’t see gender equality in the boardroom until 2081.”

So, How Can Women Break the Glass Ceiling?

Women need to maintain their composure and keep their heads down working with the team until the time comes when the team can no longer function without their exceptional ideas. That’s when the men have no choice but to invite them to step in and take charge.

Here are some other practical tips you might find useful when you’re looking to break the glass ceiling.

  1. Look for a company that welcomes innovation and is progressive in its work ethos. Functioning in such a work environment is essential for your personal growth as well. You’ll feel inspired and excel because your accomplishments will be recognized and lauded.
  2. Study the history of the company where you work. What are the key talents and skills that attract the most attention? Who were the people who got promotions? What did they achieve for the company to qualify? You’ll get a fair view of the areas where you need to perform better.
  3. Set goals for yourself and work out how you’re going to attain them. Take performance reviews seriously. Ask questions about what you need to do to develop your skills and capabilities. Look for a mentor within your company who can train and guide you on your performance in the organization.
  4. Consider getting continuing education credits to further your skills. Each new qualification will serve as another tool to help you break the glass ceiling.
  5. Build an extensive network of contacts, within and outside of your company. You’ll also need all the help you can from your peers. Make friends and make a conscious effort to keep in touch with them. You never know when you may need help with a project or to advance the interests of your company. That’s a sure shot strategy to get noticed and rise to the top.
  6. Build a stellar record. Take on all the challenging projects you can. Focus on the advancement of the company. Don’t hesitate to express your ideas and be assertive in the boardroom.
  7. No strategy works better than hard work and dedication. Keep adding accomplishments to your resume. You’ll learn and gain experience working at bigger and more advanced projects. Soon you’ll have an impressive list of completed projects that can help you break the glass ceiling.
  8. Take care of your health. In your race to get ahead in your career, don’t ignore your body. As long as you feel well, you can continue to achieve everything you want to. As you cross the age of 35, if you feel like your body is starting to slow down, get yourself tested and treat hormone imbalances. This is one issue that can get in the way of your performance levels by causing all kinds of health problems including fatigue, lack of concentration, poor memory, mental confusion, and others.

Can women break the glass ceiling? Absolutely! All it takes is resilience and hard work. And, the right moves. Soon you’ll be able to prove that you’re more than capable of running the company and making a roaring success of it.

Do You Really Need to Manage Your Reputation

Have you ever wondered whether your business needs to be in touch with a reputation management firm? If you have wondered that, then it is likely that you need to get in touch with such a firm as soon as possible. Online reputation management was once something that only huge businesses had to get involved in, but it is now something for everybody. Without strategies in place, you simply cannot protect yourself from the inevitable complaints and bad reviews.

Reputation management has to be seen as part of your marketing and advertising campaign. You need to set aside a budget and create a detailed strategy, as well as an action plan and operating procedure, so that everybody in your organization knows how to behave online when they represent your company. Additionally, the strategy is about being proactive, so that you focus on building a positive reputation long before any negative comments start to appear.

So how do you know whether this is something you can do yourself, or whether you need professional help? The following questions may help you answer that.

  1. What Are Your Rankings?

If you don’t know what rankings are, you definitely need professional help. Essentially, if you do not rank on the first page of Google, you have a problem. You cannot expect your customers to go to the second or third page, because they simply won’t.

  1. Do You Have Negative Reviews Against You?

If any negative reviews have been posted about you, you also need help. Even a single complaint can drive customers away. It is for this reason that reputation management is such a hot topic right now. You need to understand what is out there, and how people are finding it – even if that is because of an autocorrect word, by the way.

  1. Do You Have a Reputation Management Strategy?

If you don’t, you need one straight away. Without a strategy, you will set yourself up for failure. You need to have a plan in place, or you will basically be shooting in the dark, simply hoping that things will turn out ok in the end. If you work with a professional company, however, you can rest assured that you can focus on managing your business, while they make sure you look good.

The internet today is hugely different from the internet ten years ago, or even one year ago. To be able to keep up with changes, the way people search, the way consumers use the internet in order to make decisions, and more, you would need an extra 24 hours in a day, which nobody has. You need to be able to focus on your job of actually running your business, and leave the issue of reputation management to the professionals. But don’t think you can choose to not do either, to simply let things go, because you will quickly start to see your customer base drop and your profits diminish, without even understanding what has happened.

Let Your Employees Drive Your Innovation

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All businesses need to commit to innovation if they want to remain competitive in the market. One way to do achieve that is through idea management, enabling internal and external stakeholders to come up with ideas for improvement. To capture this innovation, idea management software can be of great benefit. However, there are still some businesses that struggle to understand why they should consider this, and how it could benefit their business to listen closely to every employee. Yet, if they commit to employee driven innovation, they could see their business grow exponentially.

What Is Employee Driven Innovation?

The system of employee driven innovation is one where solutions and ideas are put forward by employees. What matters about this is that they are encouraged to think outside of the box, and beyond the confines of their job description. For example, someone who works in the finance department can put forward ideas about how to sort the post in the post room. They may not know as much about that particular area of their business, but it is in this that their strength lies: they have a fresh, and outsider perspective. Naturally, they can also put forward ideas about their own departments, but it is the openness and influence on everything that makes this innovation so powerful.

Within employee driven innovation, every idea is accepted and considered. This does not mean that it automatically gets accepted, however. So considering that, why do businesses resist this concept so strongly?

The Resistance to Employee Driven Innovation

There is a big challenge to be overcome in terms of convincing everybody across the board that each individual member of staff has potential solutions within them. One of the reasons for this is because the concept goes above and beyond the skills for which each individual was hired. Rather, it encourages people to think outside of the box and to become more collaborative with every element of the organization.

What idea management software does, is enable every individual to talk about their ideas using a single platform. Through this platform, they are empowered to say what they think, rather than having to go directly to a manager or another individual in the organization. Essentially, it is a process that encourages collaboration without any form of hierarchy.

By implementing idea management software, people become more engaged with their company, which leads to greater happiness. It also has a positive effect on retention, because people feel more valued by having their voice heard. Employee engagement has huge positive effects on every element of an organization.

By enabling people to think outside of the confines of their personal job or even their department builds a great deal of trust. People have a greater morale and are more loyal to their company. As an added benefit, everybody works together, across departments that they had previously never worked with. Those are huge benefits that make a company more efficient and creates a collaborative workforce that feels happy within their business.

Express Your Creativity On The Internet

The internet is one of the most powerful and intricate inventions of our time, it has the power to connect people from all over the World, it has changed the way in which we live our lives and it is an ever changing landscape of digital technology which enables us to do almost anything that we set our mind to. Despite this incredible power and limitless possibility, I far too often find myself sat on YouTube watching videos of animals fighting, a child biting his brother’s finger or old X-factor auditions when I want to pass some time online.

I decided a couple of months back that I was going to start to use my time online to do something a little more creative than just checking social media and if you want to do the same then here are some great things that you can be doing to express your creativity online.

YouTuber

Why not flip the YouTube camera around and become a star yourself, there are people out there getting millions of views on their YouTube channels, Nigerian pastor and prophet TB Joshua has a channel called Emmanuel TV which has amassed over 700 million views, that is just an example of the success which you can find here. The idea is to be funny informative, thought provoking or altogether weird if you want to find success on YouTube and if you are engaging enough then you could become a star.

Blogging

Blogging is a great way to express your creativity on the internet, you can blog about absolutely anything that you want to and meet people across the web who share your ideas. The beauty of blogging is that it offers absolute freedom and gives you a chance to show off your creative side. In order to gain traffic you should be utilizing social media to grow your blog’s reputation and engaging regularly with readers of your blog. Blogging can be used to share written content, photography, videos and everything in between and it can be a great way to use your time online.

Sell Yourself

If you have a gift for making things then you could be in line to make some money by selling your hand made wares on the internet. Websites like Etsy specialize in the selling of hand-made and unique products and this can be a great place for you to show off what you can do and make some money in the process. Be warned, the bar is pretty high on these websites so you need to be sure that your designs and creations are absolutely on the money, if you sell sub standard stuff then you won’t last very long in the marketplace.

There are many other ways in which you can get creative online, these are just some of the ways that I have been exploring in the past few months, the key is to try something different and stop spending your days on YouTube like I used to.