Tagged: Europe

The Bilingual Entrepreneur

bilingualDigital connectivity has changed the way we do business. As we become more interconnected and technology savvy, we are seeing the world become smaller as countries are becoming more dependent on each other. Global travel has become fast and easy, which makes it more important for entrepreneurs to become aware and adaptive to different cultures.

Global trade has also changed, it has become easier to buy and sell goods around the world. Technology has made it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with suppliers, partners, and customers and helped business truly grow to its full potential, and open doors to markets that might otherwise have remained out of reach.

In such a global environment, it is important for entrepreneurs to understand the importance of learning a foreign language. Nearly 80% of business leaders surveyed believe their overall business would increase notably if they had more internationally competent employees on staff and knew how to speak at least one foreign language.

As an entrepreneur, while looking at learning a foreign language for the purposes of business, one needs to look at which ones will best fit their needs. Here is a list of the top 5 most languages all global-minded CEOs should be learning.

1. Spanish
Spanish has official status in 21 South American countries and also the official language of Puerto Rico. Spanish is also now the second most popular language at A-level after French, having overtaken German in 2005. Mexico has over 20 per cent of all first language Spanish speakers, while the USA, with 30–40 million native speakers of Spanish, is the country with the largest Spanish speaking minority.

2. Arabic
Arabic is a Semitic language. With over 230 million native speakers and a further 100–200 million people across northern Africa and western Asia for whom it is their second language. It also ranks as the fourth most widely spoken language in the world. Arabic is used as an official language of the United Nations, International Criminal Court, African Union, Arab League amongst others.

3. French
Popularly know as the Romance language, French is spoken by more than 70 million people as their first language, although it is estimated that a further 100–200 million people around the world speak French as a second language. Also, in terms of internet usage, French is currently the language of choice for 60 million users, making it the eighth most widely used language on the internet.

4. Mandarin Chinese
The language with official status in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua), is the most widely spoken in the world with 800 million speakers, mostly in China. By 2020, China will be one of four countries accounting for over half of the world’s population of 18–22 year olds making it a priority country for international education.

5. German
It is one of the working languages of the EU and an official language of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. German is the sixth most common language on the internet, with more than 75 million users.

Reference: Languages of the future.

Poland – The Land of Business Oppertunity

2000px-Kotwica_symbolPoland is a country with a strong cultural and economic background that has benefited with the post-communist economic liberalization. The political freedom seen in past few years has let the country in becoming the 22nd largest globally by GDP. With much of Europe still struggling to recuperate from the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, Poland stands out as a territory of economic success, a place where companies and individuals plan for growth rather than decline. The reasons are simple: a large internal economy, a business-friendly political class, and the dynamic potential of a developing country catching up with its global competitors.

The Past:

The secrets of Poland’s sustainability and resilience trace back to the post communist era, when its leaders pulled the country through a set of painful but ultimately effective reforms. In the 80s and the 90s Polish consumers had limited choice when it came to buying products. Mostly everything was developed by public sector organizations driven by stringent political reforms. These organizations had 30-year business plans which were based on political principles rather than market research or analysis. So the consumers had limited choices of products that did not met their demands or tastes.

The Change:

Since the collapse of communism in 1989, Polish economy has grown rapidly. On 1 May 2004, Poland joined the European Union and thus became a member of the vast European single market where goods, services, capital and labor move as freely as within one country. Another point to note is that during the recent global economic downturn Poland has been the only country in Europe to show growth in GDP.

The Future:

Economic restructuring, capital inflows, trade liberalization, privatization, and the gradual adaptation of legal and administrative standards to market oriented practices have improved economic structures dramatically. The Polish government has also streamlined the process for transferring property, made paying taxes easier, reduced the time required to enforce contracts, and strengthened the business liquidation process.

Also, a recent KPMG report shows that the Poles’ budget for spending is going up. For example: Poles spend 18% of their income on luxury goods, and aspirational Poles spend 13% on luxury goods. The total spend in Poland in 2012 on luxury goods was 36.8bn zloty (around £7.2bn), up by over 10% since 2011. This figure is expected to keep rising, hitting 46.4bn zloty by 2015.

Recent reforms in areas such as financial markets, company and competition law, accounting, and intellectual property rights have improved the environment for private business and boosted economic growth.

So for new businesses there is great news, as the country offers a range of business and industry options. Research suggests that Poland is ranked among the top 20 most attractive markets globally for retail brands. The fast developing tastes and stable economy mean that if retail is your business, Poland is a great country to target. Also, due to the modernization of healthcare in Poland, the pharmaceutical industry is likely to keep growing, making it a key focus for UKTI and UK exporters. So the Polish pharmaceutical market is another good bet. Finally, considering that the breadth of products needed is so diverse, the potential for selling and exporting there is huge.

Amancio Ortega – The private man

amancio-ortega-zara-richeA railway worker’s son, Amancio Ortega started as an assistant in a shirt store. A true story of rags-to-rich: Ortega left school when he was 12 to work as a shirt-maker’s delivery boy, to help support his poor family. He learnt quickly and worked his way up. He worked hard and learnt the basics of business overtime and eventually found success along with his first wife when they co-founded ZARA. Despite Ortega’s private nature, some details about his life have recently been emerged. He wears the same thing to work every day and dines in the company cafeteria.

He has guarded his privacy so carefully that the company has only released one photograph of him, when the company listed in 2001. With a net worth of $57.5 billion, Ortega rarely gives interviews to the press. In a country with sky-high unemployment, Spain’s richest man is a rare self-made mogul amid a corporate culture dominated by family dynasties. It is said that Amancio Ortega is a workaholic and likes to do his work himself and doesn’t take vacations.

This year, Amancio Ortegais is the biggest winner on the Forbes Billionaires list, jumping two spots to become the 3rd-richest man in the world, with a net worth of $57 billion. His net worth rose more than any billionaire on the list: $19.5 billion, helping push his net worth to record heights.

A true inspiration to all business owners, Amancio Ortega is a self made man, who has worked against all odds to reach the pinnacle of success. He is considered to be europe’s richest man owning 59 percent of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara chain. Through his closely held investment companies, Ortega also owns office and retail property in major cities throughout Europe and the U.S.

Argentina Calling!

Argentina was once famous for its bureaucracy, but now if you take the time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone then the doors open magically. It’s a country with a complicated history so people are used to helping each other out.

Their motto is simple

“I do this for you and you do this for me and together we form a human chain to help each other out”

In the words of the newly elected prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, “1,200 young Spaniards are immigrating to Argentina each year”.

The figures might sound a bit exaggerated but a mass migration of young Europeans is nevertheless clearly evident in the streets of Buenos Aires. Most of them come from Spain and Italy but some are from Britain. The large majority of young Europeans in Argentina work under the radar of the Migrations Department, residing as students or travelling back and forth to neighboring Uruguay to renew their tourist visa every three months. But figures for official residency permits for Europeans have about doubled in the past five years, to a projected 2,000 for this year.

What do Entrepreneurs feel?

A lack of adequate financing is often seen as a cause of economic stagnation for businessmen and entrepreneurs, but in Argentina it’s more a symptom of something graver: persistent uncertainty and instability. “Money is not the problem,” says Zoltan Acs, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Virginia. “The problem is, Does the country reward people for effort?

Acs says that nonprofits like Endeavor Argentina, which provides free legal and accounting advice to entrepreneurs and connects start-ups to more established companies, have helped. But in Argentina, even the most successful entrepreneurs are never entirely sure how safe and secured they are.

However, Buenos Aires still continues to be a favored option for the young and the restless:

It is the commercial, financial, industrial and cultural hub of Argentina. Its port is one of the busiest in South America; crossable rivers by way of the Rio de la Plata connect the port to north-east Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. As a result it serves as the distribution hub for a vast area of the south-eastern region of the continent.

The city’s services sector is diversified and well-developed by international standards, and accounts for 76% of its economy. Advertising, in particular, plays a prominent role in the export of services at home and abroad. The financial, business and real-estate services sector is the largest, however, and contributes to 31% of the city’s economy.

Europe – Small Business, Big World

European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) should better profit from fast growing emerging markets, such as in China, India, Russia or in regions like South East Asia and Latin America. This is the key issue to overcome the crisis addressed in the European Commission communication ‘Small Business, Big World – a new partnership to help SMEs seize global opportunities’ presented today. The priority for Europe now is to overcome the crisis boosting competitiveness and growth. Major markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, with strong growth rates and potential represent significant opportunities for EU companies. Exports outside the EU to expanding markets could trigger new dynamism for European economy. Internationalisation is the step SMEs need to take and to seize these opportunities.

The objectives of the new EU strategy are

To provide SMEs with easily accessible and adequate information on how to expand their business outside the EU.
To improve the coherence of support activities.
To improve the cost-effectiveness of support activities.
To fill existing gaps in support services.
To establish a level playing field and provide equal access for SMEs from all EU Member States.
The Commission will play a crucial role in the coordination and governance of this process, also through setting up a periodic ‘SME Internationalisation Forum’ and with a specific focus on this topic at the regular meetings of Member States’ SME Envoys. In all these activities the representatives of the private sector will be involved.

Source: EUbusiness