If you’ve ever visited a foreign country, you know that everything from telephone etiquette to the way the toilet flushes changes up from place to place. But business practices are universal, right? Wrong! Actually, some of the “business as usual” we take for granted here in the U.S. is quite different in other countries. Below are just a few of the ways our U.S. business practices will baffle foreign business people.
1. Using Contracts
Think all contracts are the same? I bet you didn’t know that there is such a thing as “American style” contracts, as well as “European style” and even “Bermuda style”! For example, in finance, there are a variety of different contracts. These are usually defined by the date on which the money actually changes hands.
American style contracts are generally more flexible than European style, and may be exercised any time before the expiration date. European style means a certain date is set.
2. Using Warning Labels
It’s very commonplace, now, for warning labels to be put on every single product in the United States. This was a result of consumer lawsuits – companies want to avoid getting hit with any litigation. So now, we have crazy warning labels like “may cause drowsiness” on sleeping pills and “do not spray in eyes” on Windex.
Of course, warning labels aren’t the norm in every country. As a result, foreign businesses need to remember this when attempting to infiltrate the market. No matter how goofy the warning may seem, someone has probably tried to do it, so the warning against is probably necessary in the United States!
3. Certifications and Approvals
When we buy a product, we easily presume it’s going to do what it says it does. However, this isn’t always the case, especially if the product we buy doesn’t have the necessary certifications and approvals. The United States has strict organizations such as the FDA to regulate what gets out on the market, some countries don’t. This means unique hurdles for approval of the products they intend to introduce; if they want to run a legit business.
4. Disability Insurance
When you get hurt at work, you’re taken care of. That’s the overall feeling of most of the world, including countries in South America, Australia, and Europe. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, there are many businesses throughout the world that do not offer workman’s compensation or any sort of disability insurance. If they want to open a business in the United States, though, they need to factor in the cost of taking care of sick and injured workers.
5. Unemployment Coverage Compensation
According to a study a few years ago, most of the world does not have unemployment compensation coverage. Which is probably a little shocking to most Americans, as we’re used to having that safety net when a company goes out of business or gives us the boot.
It’s definitely not universal, though, and is a social program we shouldn’t take for granted. Foreign businesses trying to make it in the US will need to pay into the unemployment system, even though it might seem a foreign concept to them.
Luckily, the entrepreneurial nature of the U.S. fosters countless business and services to help you navigate the complexity that is business in the U.S. You can easily deal with disability and unemployment through human resource related companies while lawyers are a great resource for each of these challenges. Of course, we’re here to help with those contracts, keep in mind they’re going to need to be in English.