Why Investors Need International Business Skills

Category: How-tos

The business world is constantly changing, and investors need to stay relevant if they want to stay in the game. The internet and a more wide-open global marketplace have created more business opportunities than ever before — but there are also plenty of pitfalls.

Not every country does business the same way — in fact, far from it. And if you find a new company or startup with enormous investment potential, the last thing you want is to make some unintentional (and entirely avoidable) blunder that costs you that opportunity. That’s why smart investors take the time to learn international business skills.

Why International Business Skills Are Important

So what exactly are international business skills, and why do you need them?

At the most basic level, cultivating international business skills comes down to communication. You may not need to speak another language (although that couldn’t hurt), but you should have the ability to communicate your ideas with people from other cultures and backgrounds without committing a potentially disastrous faux pas.

First and foremost, it will be critical for you to understand the laws and regulations of other countries, and work within them. The last thing you need is legal trouble.

You should also have a firm understanding of the region’s economic and political climate, especially if you will be investing a lot of money. Political and economic situations can change rapidly, and knowing the risks of the region is just like any other risk management strategy.

Being sensitive to different social cultures is also important, both in terms of understanding the business culture and the broader social landscape. A big part of investment strategy is having finely tuned negotiation skills, and that’s far easier to pull off when you have a commanding grasp on the culture at large.

As to why international business skills are important, it’s simple — because the international market is where the money is. Research has shown that investments overseas have a significantly higher chance of success. To neglect the international market is to close yourself off from a whole world of lucrative opportunities.

How to Gain International Business Skills

Understand the need for these skills. If you’re going to make a foray into the world of international investing, then there are a few things you’ll have to take to heart:

  • Working in this area intrinsically means working with a more diverse workplace, with people who come from a very different background than yourself. This means that being able to learn, understand, and work respectfully with cultural differences will be of paramount importance.
  • Working in international business also means sharpening your networking skills. To be successful, you’ll have to build a strong network of contacts outside of your home country, and that can be a challenging hurdle in itself. For that kind of networking, you’ll need strong communications skills. Tact, diplomacy, and an ability to listen will be critical.
  • Collaboration will also be key, meaning you must be able to work well with others. Learning new perspectives and being able to draw on the expertise of partners from other cultures is going to be invaluable to making smart, informed investments and finding successful projects.

Learn one or more languages. This is likely one of the easiest barriers to break down when it comes to communication. Being able to communicate in a business partner’s native language will not only garner appreciation and respect, but make everything that follows easier to handle.

Travel and live abroad. One of the most effective ways to learn about a culture is to immerse yourself in it. Get your feet on the ground of another country and get a first-hand perspective on what life is like there — it will make a huge difference in how you think about that culture, and give you a serious advantage over competitors who only know that culture from a guidebook or website.

Educate yourself. Whether you decide to take some short courses on global economics, foreign exchange relations, or even a degree in international studies, some manner of formal education may be a necessity if you really want to take your investment strategy to the next level.

Partner with others. While nothing beats first-hand experience, it can also be extremely useful to have a guide with more experience who can help shepherd you through the finer points. An investment partner with solid experience who can mentor you through both the basics and the more precise details could help avoid making common and costly mistakes.

Improve your soft skills. The skills that will help you most in international business are the same set of skills that will help you in the broader investment market: communication, adaptive thinking, collaboration, and negotiation. Good observational skills and intuitiveness is also helpful, such as being able to read body language even when communication is difficult.

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