Cultures May Be Different, But Planning Is The Same
by Nicholas Bruner
I recently returned from a trip to Germany and found that it doesn’t matter what business you are in, when it comes to crossing borders and operating in more than one country, the relationships built on the front end are crucial to ensuring success early.
As a member of a US-German Alliance of accounting firms from various regions of the United States as well as Germany, we participate in video conference calls at least six times a year, but also an annual meeting in person. These meetings alternate between a US city and German city and focus on developing relationships and helping each other grow our international business practices. This year’s meeting was in Hamburg: a beautiful city in northwest Germany on the River Elbe. Hamburg is home to Germany’s largest port and Europe’s 3rd largest.
As many of you know, Germany has arguably the strongest economy in Europe and investment to and from the United States is very high. Our goal is to build and strengthen relationships with partners in Germany so that if a need arises with one of our clients, we are able to handle it quickly and seamlessly. Which brings me to the meat of my post; whether you are entering new markets, introducing new products or initiatives, having relationships and partners that you can trust from the start makes difficult transitions not so daunting.
In the city of Hamburg, the importance of proper planning can be seen in the building of the Elbphilharmone, a one of a kind concert hall that was scheduled to be completed several years ago but as of our trip had yet to open and was an estimated 1000% over budget. You can see the stunning architectural lines in the picture of the skyline at dusk to the right. Because it sits on the water, it was designed to mimic the look of waves.
After talking with several of our colleagues as well as meeting with companies while in Germany, I noted that all had a strong importance on building the relationships first to make things easier down the road.
When asking business owners, “How did you get started in the United States?” they would say, “We did our research and we found a trusted partner on location to handle the transition.” Or their answer would be, “We opened up too fast without covering all our bases and it was a real struggle at first.” As with any new venture, the companies that put the time and effort into planning are the ones that survive hard times.
In international business relations, we all have differences in our cultures based on our country of origin, but if you make an effort to travel and explore other’s cultures and countries, the relationships built will strengthen and you will be that much more ahead of your competitors.
Nicholas Bruner is the corporate audit and consulting partner with Rushton & Co, LLC. He holds the designations of Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Valuation Analyst. He specializes in international accounting and auditing and has spent the last 10 years working with companies who are either established in the United States and expanding overseas or companies based overseas looking to establish a physical presence in the US.