As we may be aware either in practice or theory, it is not easy to start a business. It’s even more complex when a portion of your business operates overseas. My career in international development has exposed me to the complexity of cultural systems around the world. However, Evolvemint has allowed me to understand the reality of what it means to run a sustainable business with partners overseas. Given these experiences, I thought it would be beneficial to provide this audience with the top five issues I think are critical to consider.
1. Passion and Dedication- This may go without saying, but make sure you are committed and believe in the socially responsible business you plan to start. Your passion for your mission and vision will take you through the difficult times and cross-cultural barriers.
2. Research- Take time to research the enabling environment that you plan to engage. You MUST have an understanding of the regulatory environment and cultural practices for the areas you plan to work within.
3. Work planning- Incorporate varying work aesthetics into your work plan. Think about what can impact the timing of your inventory or deliverables (such as holidays). The operating infrastructure such as access to electricity and roads can also affect your business model, so be sure to keep this in mind.
4. Communication- Ensure that your company and partners have a common vision, and this vision is often communicated. Make sure your language is clear and ask your partners if they understand what you are trying to say. Offer constructive feedback for what has and has not worked well. All of these actions will build capacity and enhance performance.
5.Measuring your impact- Ask yourself what you are trying to impact through your business, and write these down. Talk with your partners about what their current issues are, and discuss what your collective achievements are each year. For example, are you trying to generate more employment opportunities, or build the skill set of people within the community? Your baseline information and data should be recorded for your impact indicators to ensure you are capturing the correct information.