Tag Archive: Business Strategy

Suceeding At Your Job, Facebook vs LinkedIn, Midlife Career Change

 

When just being good at your job isn’t good enough!- “To keep succeeding in your career, you must add value to your organization through continuous learning” (more at Strategy+Business). Also, here is how a ‘Craftsman-Like Approach’ helps to achieve greater joy at work (Forbes)

Okey! This one is a little tough- Is LinkedIn the new Facebook? Or Is Facebook the new LinkedIn? Either way, the game is changing. LinkedIn has completely transformed with some added functionality some of which include “Facebook-style” timeline. Facebook on the other hand, is now helping lower-skilled worker, freelancers, and those individuals who aren’t actively looking for a job.(see The Next Web)

Well, the big question is how would jobs seekers, employers and companies benefit from all of this?  Here’s how Facebook is helping small businesses having trouble hiring (Techcrunch)  Also, here is how to make  LinkedIn work for you (Converge) And finally, when you want LinkedIn  to retain its professional integrity, and avoid getting into a noisy conversation (Business2Community)

Midlife career changes happens more often than we can imagine. But with good planning, making a big career move in your late 30s or older is possible and can be quite rewarding. Here is what you need to do to  successfully make a midlife career change- (Entrepreneur) Also,  NPR shares a few posts highlighting reasons why people consider midlife career shifts (npr.org). At some point, radical change is required. Depending on your goals, if you choose a a completely new career direction you might require a re-training to improve or acquire new skills.(More at Stuff)

Yes, you can still  change jobs when you are near retirement. But there is need to understand the pros and cons, of voluntarily changing jobs on a retirement timing. Here is how -(Market Watch)  Also, understand how a midlif e career change can have a tremendous effect on retirement planning (Globe and Mail)

Why Considering The Importance Of Cultural Aspects Can be Helpful Before Expanding Your Business Activities overseas

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In International Business, foreign cultures are known for their power to influence the success of businesses operated in foreign markets. There are thousands of books and articles written on how to set up a business overseas.  If you may recall, the previous post highlighted by use of examples how foreign culture and communication can affect a company’s way of doing business abroad and if not dealt with properly, can stand in the way of a company’s success.

Still on the same issue of foreign language and cultural communication,  it is important to realise that we don’t all perceive messages the same way. Sometimes, you need to put your message in a local language and ensure the meaning of your messages translates correctly, so that it doesn’t sound offensive or arrogant. Further, even though cultural differences are known for their impact on habits and social activity, these days, social media makes these aspects, visibly sharp and if escalates may echo allover the world with just once simple tweet as it was seen in the case of H&M South Africa (Read more about that here)

So, why is understanding the cultural aspect so important before setting up a business abroad? Well, basically, realise that culture is a powerful factor and depending on the nature of your business, you need to know that it can influence anything from generation of an idea e.g. Product idea, product design all the way down to how the end customer receives the product. And sometimes, failure to take account of the different cultural norms can be damaging and costly to your business or even consequently stand in the way of your company’s success. (Read here for some of the most highlighted blunders from well known international companies, that cost them millions of dollars just because of miscommunication)

Others had to immediately withdraw their products from foreign markets because the direct translation of their products was a real blunder and others were in fact, close to an insult in the foreign markets they were serving. ( Real case examples)

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The aspect of foreign culture is not just about the local language spoken. Culture also involves other elements such as- common behaviours, people’s attitudes, their sensitivities, etc. We’ve heard about certain issues such as gestures which at first may seem too obvious and foreigners repeatedly fall in the habit of misunderstanding them and if not careful, highly successful and well mannered business people can easily be judged and immediately categorized as offensive, disrespectful and arrogant. This also applies in situations where successful business people fail to understand the significance of a handshake in foreign countries or even the dress code. (Learn more about the significance and importance of a handshake and gestures in an international business environment)

Other areas that are often easily misunderstood, and if not careful could be damaging, include the chosing gifts and gender related problems where cultural approach to business negotiation, matters the most. Professor Hofstede is well known for extensive research in areas related to how culture influences the success of a business organisation.Particulary, his work has examined how gender roles affect negotiation  processes depending on individual countries. In some cultures, certain business men get extremely irritiated and feel insulted, when women get involved in their business transactions (even meetings).  Religion is another powerful cultural aspect which business people need to consider as an important factors and realise how it is  intergrated in international business activities. According to studies, religion has influence on the employee productivity. This ofcoutse depends on their country of origin and how religion is viewed in that particular country.

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Still on cultural communication, a common observation is usually on the concept of high and low context cultures where what you ‘hear’ might not necessarily means that’s what you ‘get’. For example, i know people  in certain countries and of different cultures,  whose   ‘YES’ may actually mean a ‘NO’.  That can be really irritating or frustrating,  especially if it’s a business negotiation. Get to know these things before hand otherwise you’re likely to learn the hard way, and that might cost you a lot of time and money!  Most importantly, undestand that these major differences may vary accross continents, countries, cultures etc. A majority of Germans for example, have no problems with saying  ‘Yes’ or ‘No’  and coming straight to the point. Other cultures indeed find it difficult to agree, and other struggle to say ‘No’. ( More on how different cultures agree and disagree)

The area of culture and communcation in international businesses is very broad! But it pays to atleast understand the basics of how that may affect the success of your business..

How Foreign Cultures and Communication Can Affect Your International Business Operations – H&M in South Africa

Globalization and internationalization is of great importance for economies and it’s even more rewarding when business organisations take advantage of the profitable business opportunities and expand their operations overseas.

However, running or managing a business operation abroad can be challenging. Unlike with doing business at home, companies interested in doing business abroad must look at the broader picture of doing business from an international perspective and have to bear in mind that expanding into foreign markets means that, a lot of things will be run differently. In other words, it is important to realise that there are many different aspects to consider before deciding to do business abroad. (Are you ready to expand your business overseas? Here is an article by Entreprenuer.com that might help to get you started)

This blog post focuses on the importance of culture and how it can impact how businesses are run in foreign markets. I personally felt the need to write about cultural influences and how that affects normal business activities because this is an area experts have observed that should be addressed to. Many have seen even how large corporations making mistakes and end up colliding with the locals and sometimes withdraw from the markets because cultural conflicts and the unexpected consumers’ reactions. The good news is that, some companies are swift to reconcile such mistakes and  successfuly continue their business overseas. Others fail and a few years later they have closed their business abroad and withdraw their operations abroad and we all  we all wonder what happened?( Although there are many other examples, a common example which i see being discussed here is Walmart in Germany. Source: Huffington Post)- More about the case study Walmart’s fail in Germany has been analysed here: Source Kwintessential and also discussed inthe  Newyork Times.

The need for this blog post was inspired by recent happenings on social media after  H&M opened their new store in South Africa– Although people were excited about the news, something later on happened on social media platforms and to be honest the talk was not as exciting as it initialyl was. To cut the story short, a well known Fashionista in South Africa, Tlalane Letlhaku made an observation about H&M models and tweeted as follows:

And company’s response via Twitter was as follows:

That was enough to spark nasty talks among potential customers. If you are interested in following up to understand what the fuss was all about, you could start here and here or here 

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Well, even though H&M tweeted an apology, honestly, some customers were still busy responding with anger and nursing their bitterness, that they barely noticed there was an apology sent via the social media, Twitter.

H&M’s response was not taken so well. You see, a few words were enough to cause tension among shoppers or potential customers. Why? If you look closely, the major issue here is the cultural and communication aspect. We don’t all perceive messages the same way. Sometimes, you need to put your message in a local language and ensure the meaning of your messages translates correctly, so that it doesn’t sound offensive or arrogant. For the Swedish Fashion retailer, that maybe was not a good start but i am sure they’ll know how to handle their local customers and rebuild  trust with them. The company is known for successfully penetrating foreign markets and still manages to stay true to it’s overall brand.