1. Don’t believe everything you hear
In Finland, the spoken word carries a lot of weight. Employment contracts, tenancy agreements, and settlements are binding through a verbal exchange. While Finns should not assume that others are being untrustworthy, be skeptical of misleading or exaggerated statements when working with international counterparts. Being thorough in any business dealing and researching companies and partners can increase the likelihood of a successful business venture.
2. Don’t generalize an entire market
Whether conducting business in South East Asia or America, narrowing down the market to specific segments will increase the chance for successful promotion and sales.
3. Don’t be afraid to speak English or the native language
Most people will be impressed at the effort. If you’re unsure of grammar and spelling in e-mails or business material however, it’s best to find a professional who can proofread these for you.
4. Don’t be offended if someone is not on time
While Americans and Finns alike pride themselves on being on time, Arabic and some European cultures (Spain and Italy for example) don’t hold time in as high regard. It’s often not personal – it’s cultural!
5. Don’t always expect a quick and frank transaction
Depending on where you are doing business, a certain amount of relationship building is expected. Sometimes it’s better to avoid business and focus on establishing a trusting relationship first.
6. Don’t overextend the equality Finland enjoys to all parts of the world
Equality is a point of pride here in Finland and the Nordics, but some countries are still striving for, and disagreeing about what constitutes, “fairness” and “equality”. It’s best to avoid this and associated subjects such as women’s right and universal medical care.
7. Don’t assume business casual is the same everywhere
Do some research about what is acceptable dress where you are going. Business casual can vary greatly from country to country. As do acceptable colors, modesty, and appropriateness for women.
8. Don’t forget to be curious!
Ask questions and be a proactive information seeker.
If you have overseas business and you’re interested in improving your understanding of cross-cultural business, either in general or country-specific, you can read more and contact the Xport team here
20.8.2014 Natalia Moose, Project Coordinator, Xport