Language As A Foreign Investment

The number one language in business is English, but you might want to consider investing in another language when doing business.  Even if you don’t do business abroad, broadening your customer base at home can be as simple as providing services, supports, or products with a second language component.

English As A Second Language

Some of your customers may not speak English very well.  If they speak Spanish or French or even Mandarin, is it beneficial to either speak Spanish or French or Mandarin, or to hire someone who does?  The answer to that question lies in who your customer is, and what your market looks like.  You may be ignoring a segment of your potential market if you only offer services, supports, and/or products in English.

¿Se habla español?

If you’re considering a second language, Spanish is one you should strongly consider.  In the U.S., there are over 35 million people who speak Spanish, and 425 million worldwide.  The number of people who are fluent in Spanish is second only to those who are fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Spanish opens up economic possibilities beyond the U.S. in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and, of course, Spain.

You can hire someone who is English-Spanish proficient or you can put about 600 classroom hours into learning Spanish to pass the proficiency test.  Connect with businesses and people in your community who speak Spanish, and you’ll find that the more you speak and write in Spanish, the more accomplished you’ll become.

Mandarin Chinese Is Number One

According to 2015 statistics, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by 955 million people (or nearly 15 percent of the world’s population).  While that’s a hefty segment of the population, if you invest a generous segment of your marketing to online and social media promotions, you should know that Mandarin Chinese is the second most popular online language after English.

It’s a difficult language to master, so you may want to look into hiring someone who is fluently bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese to address your online and social media needs.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

While it may seem that speaking and writing German may not be a good option as a second language, you may be overlooking something of value with that kind of thinking.  Germany is the largest economy in the European Union with about 110 million native speakers, and the UK’s most important trading partner.

If you do business with the UK, you may want to consider doing business with Germany.  If you do decide Germany is an attractive market, it’s time to consider setting aside about 900 classroom hours into learning the language.

Vous êtes le bienvenue chez nous!

French is spoken by about 335 million people worldwide, and considered to be one of the top three languages in which to conduct business.   What Spanish is to Americans, French is to those who do business in French Canada, many countries in the European Union, and many African and Mediterranean countries that used to be French colonies or territories.

Until the rise of the British and American empires, French was the international language of business, and many business that aren’t based in English-language countries continue to use French as their business language of preference.

The good news is that if you can speak Spanish, learning French should be a snap.  And if you speak French, leaning Spanish should be a snap.

From the country that gave us Pokémon

Mention the words technology (Fujitsu, Tama Software, Trend Micro, etc.), anime (Pokémon, Digimon, CardCaptors, etc.), video game developers (Nintendo, Square Enix, Capcom, bandai Namco, etc.), and sushi, and your audience immediately thinks:  Japan!

Japan is the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China, and the fourth-largest export market for U.S. good and services.  If you think there may be a viable market in Japan or among those who speak Japanese, now would a good time to get on the bandwagon to learn the language.

Final Note

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Business is about relationships, not just connections.  If you want to build a business relationship, speak to the hearts of your customers and potential customers.  They’ll appreciate the effort, and you’ll expand your personal and professional horizons — and for the better.

Elyse Bruce

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