International Business Lessons From A Chinese Restaurant

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What a Chinese Restaurant Taught Me About International Business

A great gateway to understanding a foreign culture and overseas business styles can be explored in your neighborhood Chinese restaurant. The interactions and lessons in your local noodle parlor can translate as a “how to” guide for Chinese business.

Can you spot the boss? Is there a designated chain of command? My experience in Chinese restaurants (even ones with more than 50 staff) shows that there is one designated boss, and he or she makes every decision. The Chinese themselves refer to a “velvet fist” that the boss wields…his say is final, but the words are softened with paternalism and good feelings. This management style translates to large firms as well. Even CEO’s in large Chinese firms have the tendency to be involved in more details than their Western counterparts.

Pronunciation and language
A CEO of a large firm asked me how he could take his firm into China. I asked him: “how will you handle the fact that not one Chinese person can say the name of your brand?” Since he didn’t believe me, my advice was to walk into a Chinese restaurant, put his product in front of the waiter and ask him to pronounce it! He was shocked to find out that no one in the room could say his the name of his product! What an inexpensive way to do some basic market research.

There is this concept in Asia that anyone who helps with anything, can help with absolutely everything. I can’t count the times a Chinese restauranteur has a “brother in China who can source products” or a “cousin who can help me with Chinese business,” or “knows how to sell products in Asia.” A man selling $8 plates of fried rice is unlikely to be a marketing specialist in Asia.

Truth and lies
When a westerner walks into a restaurant and told his order would be ready in 5 minutes and it takes 20 minutes, we feel we’ve been mislead. Chinese aren’t necessarily lying here. They are saying “it won’t take long.” Think of how many times you’ve been told in the USA “it’s not in the budget” instead of “we don’t want your product.”

Level of intimacy
There is no word in Chinese for intimacy and there is no word for privacy. Chinese restaurants are often “under designed.” In many cultures (and larger cities in the USA) waiters will ask you to share large tables with other groups. On the level of intimacy, it’s not uncommon to see bright lights and hear the waitstaff and cooking staff speak loudly. What this tells the diner about what is private and what is public translates to business.

Belief in future
This is a common cultural discussion point. Have you every noticed why most Chinese restaurants have red decor? Red is the color of luck in China. It shows a belief in luck. Scholars of China find the culture to be very superstitious.

Guan Xi
This concept, loosely translated to “back door” summarizes how Chinese business gets done. If you have Guan Xi (GWAN SHEE) or relationships, everything is possible. If you don’t, nothing is possible.
Few diners feel any kinship with a bathroom in a restaurant. It’s why we often see nice restaurants with paper towels or other garbage on the floor. The same lack of Gaun Xi can be seen in the parking lot of many Chinese restaurants. Since the drivers don’t know each other, the parking lot can be seen as a “free for all” by us.

It seems that every article on Chinese business talks about how Chinese can lose face (pride) easily. Negotiators are often warned about the dangers of making Chinese lose face. Intermediaries are often brought in to float ideas back and forth so that disagreements and suggestions between 2 parties become indirect. As a trusted go-between in many negotiations, I’ve been privy to statements and feelings that would never be communicated directly. An example in a restaurant this idea of “face” is evident when a customer wishes to return a dish. This can bring a sense of shame and make the transaction difficult and uncomfortable. The waiter must communicate to the Chef that the food wasn’t satisfactory, making the chef lose face as well. In an example in Hong Kong, the use of face comes right to your table. When you pay for your meal and the waiter brings you change, he/she often has coins on a small metal tray laid out. The customer then chooses the coins to leave and the coins to take off the tray, all in the presence of the waiter who holds the tray in front of him.

So the next time your planning that big international trip, go out for an ethnic meal and keep your eyes open.


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Business Training SlideShow – Marketing Mistakes in 3D Printing

here are 3:
1. Being hard to find on Google. Can’t spell it. Can’t Google it. Can’t find it.
2. Confusing marketing and sales. Marketing is awareness, understanding &belief. Sales is the juncture point.
3. No branding. Poor branding. Does your team know the definition of the word branding?

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Business Traning Slideshow – Mistakes Made In Managing Sales People and Sales Forces

Here are three of the 10:
2.Complex compensation plans Sales people should know what they earn on every close
3.Confusing the terms “sales” and “marketing” Marketing people don’t hear “no” everyday
4.Bad sales management “Beating up” salespeople never works

Enter the USA Market – 10 Questions Come to Mind When Entering American Marketplaces

Quite frankly, these questions work when Americans wish to market overseas as well!

When firms enter the US market, several questions come immediately to mind. These are the first that arrive.

What is the mode of entry (MOE)? License? Direct sales? Distribution agreements? Joint venture? Web based? Acquisition? All of these have various pros and cons. It is helpful to understand the MOE so that a budget can be properly prepared.

What is the budget? There are several ways to arrive at a budget. The first is usually to determine a firm’s goals and objectives, strategy, MOE and then understand the costs. Many firms do not do this, however. Many firms take a dollar amount, and “throw it at the market.” This is common with market research activities.

If your MOE is sales, (either direct or through some type of reseller) how will you find, train, motivate, compensate and support the network? The sad expression used is “once distribution is won, the deal is done.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. “Distribution” whether through reps or companies, must constantly be supported.
How will you support your sales? Will you consign free inventory? Will you translate and localize your marketing? Will you be doing advertising, public relations and web based marketing?

Do you have an understanding of the marketing oriented culture that the USA holds dear? Have you witnessed the American media machine that Americans love?

Have you seen the impact of Social Media on American business?

If your firm is European or Asian, is that an advantage or a disadvantage? If it is an advantage, can we use the advantage in marketing?

What is your story? Why is it different? Why is it better? Why do we need to know your story?

Who is the client, what is his problem, what is your solution, and why is it better?

Are you using an International Strategy or an American Strategy?

How will you measure success or failure?

10 Questions for Foreign Firms Wishing to Enter the USA 3D Printing Market

These are questions for foreign companies or, really, any other firms. See International Business Videos online.

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Global Business Video Advice – Should Companies Use Importers in International Trade?

One minute vignettes about International Business Strategies and International Marketing Efforts. This video discusses if a company should use an importer. Do Importers make sense in global business?

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Latest Article on Bitcoins in International Transactions

Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 5:36am MDT, reprinted with permission from the Denver Business Journal

Strategies: Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies and the international payments dilemma
Bill Decker

There is a rage about the “para currencies” (known as crypto currencies) that have developed and their impact on business. Bitcoin is the newsworthy currency, and much controversy surrounds this payment option. Other major players include Namecoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Peercoin and Mastercoin.

Crypto-currencies work with one main ingredient: faith. Users of Bitcoin, for example, download the app (Bitcoin Wallet) and purchase the virtual currency online. There are numerous exchanges for people to buy and sell this currency. The transactions are ostensibly secure and encrypted. This enables a user to trade currency through an exchange, or make purchases online with any merchant that will accept Bitcoin. The user may or may not know the buyer of the currency. All the information is kept in an available digital ledger, which handles clearing and settlement of transactions.

Thus, the buyers or merchant that accepts Bitcoins could be a legitimate business, or a drug dealer. One might never know.

Because the currency is virtual and not backed by a name-brand bank or government, it is inherently controversial.

There are several virtual currencies already in existence. We have been using e-commerce for two decades. Companies such as PayPal take approved credit cards, but the user’s bank account resides in the cloud. Only recently has PayPal issued physical credit cards. And because PayPal resides in the United States, the company must share all information with the government. But one PayPal bank account can be used to make purchases from other PayPal account holders. It becomes difficult to track purchases when virtual accounts pay virtual accounts.

Before PayPal, however, stores and companies were using virtual currency with gift cards. This was a faith-based system as well. When holding a gift card, we are betting that the store will be around when we wish to use it. However, many of us have gift cards for stores that have since gone out of business.

Europe has been using stored-value telephone cards for decades. In the United States, we often purchase calling cards as well. We hand over the funds and have an allotment of minutes that can be used only after we have paid.

Frequent-flyer miles are also a virtual currency. Again, many of us have held mileage awards only to find out that the airline went bankrupt, the miles had a time limit, or the number of miles needed for a given trip has changed. Are air miles taxable? What happens when we sell them? If we work for a firm and accumulate the miles from business trips, who owns them: the traveler or the company the traveler works for?

The U.S. dollar relies on a faith-based system as well. There was a time when one could take a dollar, walk into a bank and exchange it for gold or silver. Those times have ended and we take a leap of faith that the United States will back those dollars. But how often do we hear about the dollar depreciating or appreciating? And what is the dollar worth in France? The relative value of these currencies vary and firms without an International payment strategy can lose everything.

There are pros and cons with crypto-currencies. On the pro side, there is convenience. Desktop and mobile payments are made in seconds. It is far easier than going to a bank and having a letter of credit drawn.

Some other pros?

Lower transaction costs. It can cost several thousand dollars for some of the bank drafts and international payment mechanisms. Crypto-currencies offer a low cost of doing business.

Currency controls are bypassed. There are countries that are difficult to move money from. Crypto-currencies have no governmental controls.

These currencies can evade the tax man. If no government can really monitor these currencies, how can they tax the transaction?

However, for every pro there is a con. There are things to really worry about when using crypto-currencies: virtual is, by nature, scary.

The warning for business is that the recipients of funds are often unknown. This means that we can use a crypto-currencies to purchase a wristwatch and the currency can end up with drug dealers, terrorists, or in countries that can trigger a U.S. government inquiry.

There seems to be no real mechanism in place to make claims, or get refunds. Once the crypto-currencies are released from the buyer, he or she has little recourse.

Is the crypto-currency value stable? A quick Google search for Bitcoin shows that the value fluctuates. An entity receiving these currencies may take a loss.

What is the after market for crypto-currencies? How can you turn them into dollars or Euros? This is still somewhat unclear and left to the domain of various exchanges, none of which are regulated.

Will the use of crypto-currencies stand up to an audit? What other governments might harass you you when you use crypto-currencies?

As you can see, there are two sides of the Bitcoin.

Fun 3D Printing Video Cartoon – 3D Printing In Rural Areas and 3D Print Cop

Here is a fun video about 3D Printing to enjoy and have a quick laugh. See more at YouTube