Overview Of The American Way
AN AMERICAN EXPECTATION about the way things are, or the way things should be, make up a frame of reference that could accurately be compare to a clouded lens. Unfortunately it is with such obscured vision the America view the rest of the WORLD
In America, Americans generally know how to interpret and evaluate situations, but when it comes to Africa using American frame of reference, they generally come to a wrong conclusion. Due to their unfamiliarity with African cultures and ways of doing business, they often make the idea for real.
Americans lack respect and concern for other culture’s traditions and business ways. As sensitive as Americans are about being thought of as insensitive, they still have not learned to leave their American conceited, born in USA attitude at home when they travel overseas.
We are not suggesting that Americans abandon their values systems. However, they should learn to strike a balance between the strengths and advantages they enjoy as Americans and appreciation and understanding for those with whom they do business.
Americans should not be patronizing but should respect other cultures and be sympathetic to the position of those on the other side of the negotiating table.
Common American Export Pittfalls
AFRICA SHOULD BE considered the business sector’s last great frontier. The market in Africa is bigger than all of the European countries put together, yet American businesses, for the large part of Africa are nowhere to be found.
Here are some of the reasons why:
LACK OF GOOD OR NO HOMEWORK
To avoid setbacks you must do your homework very well, with the advent of the internet, there is no reason not to do all the necessary homework, cheaply, effectively and easily.
Study and learn the basic export principles and seek assistance from state agencies and export management companies. Years ago, basic research was very difficult and timely, now, just with a click of the mouse, the world is a village. Learn, Learn and Learn.
American business people bluntly refuse to accept that there are culturally different ways of doing business. American business practices are only valid in America. To develop relationship with Africans, learn and accept their business customs and ways.
FAILURE TO LEARN THE BUSINESS CULTURE
Americans planning to sell in Africa must first learn the native customs and business practices. Two of the most common African business traditions are to conduct business verbally rather than contractually and to trade in cash rather than credit. In some cases, a handshake can consummate a business deal. However, you must have graduated to that level over there.
FAILURE TO ADAPT THE PRODUCT
In some cases, so that they will be better suited to African standards, American manufacturers must make modifications to their products. Electronic products for example, require modification because voltages in most African countries differ from the standard American voltages.
Americans will like to think that they can just visit Africa on a one or two-week business trip and get million dollars order. Africa is a slow-paced continent. Its business people are never in a hurry. If you expect to close a deal during a short visit, you will be disappointed. Also note that Americans are the only one that does business wit total strangers.
Note: It is a good idea to visit the country you are interested in trading with and do the initial groundwork. Just visit and check it out. It may save you a lot of headache and money. Don’t be penny wise and pound-foolish.