Mexico boasts a rich history and culture. As the country with the most UNESCO Heritage Sites in the Americas, it is a highly sought destination for tourists and business people. Companies looking to move their operations to Mexico can invest in tourism, agriculture, mining, energy, and the automotive industry. But while opportunities abound, business in Mexico is conducted a little differently from the USA. Here are some pointers that will help you make the most of your Mexican business venture.
Learn the Language
Mexico has more than 120 million Spanish speakers – the most of any place in the world. This number accounts for 92 percent of the country’s population, which is why Spanish is the dominant language in Mexico. In addition to government operations, Spanish is also used to present all advertisements in Mexico, with some exceptions for popular expressions. This means you need to learn the language.
As you do, it is important to note that Spanish vocabulary is highly localized and varies across regions. This means you should use colloquial expressions cautiously, especially when translating marketing content. If you cannot immediately learn Spanish, invest in an interpreter.
Learn the Laws
Starting a business in any jurisdiction requires a proper understanding of the laws and customs regulations. What you need to learn will vary depending on your field but try to be familiar with local and national trade and export rules. You can usually get this information on government websites or offices or you can consult with local entrepreneurs in your field.
Use the Currency
Just as Mexicans conduct their affairs in Spanish, they also use their own currency – the Mexican Peso. The Mexican Peso was valued at between 11.3 and 14.45 to the dollar between 2004 and 2015 but has since risen to 24. You cannot localize your product or service delivery without converting to this currency because everything in Mexico runs on it. Even if you play keno online now, the platform you use will present values in Pesos.
Pick Your Team Carefully
As you learn the laws relating to your business in Mexico, it is also important to familiarize yourself with your industry’s decision-makers. Find out who the right people are for all your commercial and legal needs and introduce yourself. If you are sending a delegation to Mexico, make sure you send a senior team so your new employees do not feel insulted.
Cultivate Personal Relationships
Mexicans value familial and personal relationships above all else. In fact, people in Mexico will be reluctant to work with you if you are a stranger or they feel uncomfortable around you. This is why cultivating personal relationships with your business contacts is crucial to your success in Mexico.
Mexicans tend to dress more formally for business engagements than other people. In the provinces, you may get away with slacks and a shirt but suits are more acceptable in the capital. The best rule of thumb here is to check with your host when in doubt about what to wear. Avoid sandals, however.
In a twisted turn of events, given Mexicans’ affinity to familial connections, people in Mexico do not value eye contact as much as in the US. Maintaining too much direct eye contact can be construed as flirtatious for women and aggressive for men. You can usually get away with being late if the circumstances were unavoidable but it is best to be punctual.
During meetings, expect at least a handshake and less personal space than you are used to. In fact, stepping back from someone in Mexico can be interpreted as unfriendliness. Finally, never address someone by their first name unless they ask you to.
Doing business in a foreign country has its ups and downs. You might need to learn a new language, get used to a different culture, and re-learn your business etiquette. In Mexico, all the changes you make will pay off when you finally get a hang of things, meld into the community, and watch your business grow.
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