Globalization of businesses has made it possible for organizations to reach to clients in far and wide places. In a Reddit AMA, Bill Gates confessed that he regrets not knowing a second language. A powerful statement from an individual who is among the top in Forbes List of wealthiest people.
Many entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of learning a new language. It is a crucial skill that makes them more competitive on the global scale. Several renowned global leaders are multilingual, with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Tiffany Richards, among others.
Multilingualism is essential for doing business on the home front and also for your company’s overseas plans. While you can use translation services online, for translating sentences here and there, it is vital to purpose to learn a new language.
Why Should You Learn a New Language?
For American producers, in particular, a significant portion of their business opportunities lies with foreign consumers. If you can’t communicate with your clients in their language, they may take their business to your rivals, and you lose the opportunity. Studies carried out on bilingualism show that, you will be improving the function of your brain by studying a second language.
How does it apply to the business sector you may wonder?
• Customer Retention
Communication is essential in any business. For your business to grow to the heights you desire, you need happy customers. To keep your clients content, you need to understand what they want.
The first step in achieving this is through understanding their culture and your client’s relation to your services or products. Clients will feel like you care when you offer them support in their native tongue. You can start by hiring locals for your customer service positions.
The people you hire should also be able to communicate with English speaking people effectively. The use of best language translator goes a long way in promoting open communication in the company.
• Increase your market shares and sales
The reality is, English no longer holds the number one position as the Universal business language. As a business person, you are well aware that best opportunities are emerging from developing countries. Thus, you will have to interact and foster business partnerships with people who may not speak English.
Also, you have to remember that their culture may clash with the Western perception that you are used to. Learning the native language will help you convince potential partners that your business is worth investing in.
• Promote Diversity
It doesn’t matter how good your business idea is, is a foreign land, you have to play by their rules. The work environment in your company will be better by hiring people from different cultures. It will be the opportunity for you to learn the business etiquette in the countries of origin of your employees.
This attribute will help you thrive in a foreign market. Now that you have expanded beyond borders, you are open to endless possibilities. Learning a new language increases your global value, and the same time opens your business to more opportunities.
In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg held a Q & A session at Tsinghua University, in Mandarin. He isn’t the only business founder who decided to learn a new language. You can also be among them too.
Below is a list of foreign languages that many entrepreneurs should try to learn. It’s all about choosing to start the journey of learning a new language and doing it. This list will get you started:
It is an increasingly popular language. It is expected that by 2050, there will be about 650 million French speakers. Not many native French speakers live in France, most are in Africa, and North America, especially in Quebec, Canada.
Learning French could be a useful tool as you try to penetrate the global market.
China is a fast-rising global superpower. The Chinese represent about 15% of the worldwide economy. Their economy will shift from manufacturing to consumption in the coming decades. It will be an important market for global entrepreneurs to target.
Mark Zuckerberg probably is the only prominent leader in the tech industry that can speak Mandarin, that’s is for now.
A significant number of people around the world speak German. If you want to conduct business in Europe, then, you need to start your German lessons. Germany is also one of the largest economies in the world. If self-teaching doesn’t work, you may consider going to a language school.
Several economic powerhouses speak Spanish, e.g. Chile, Peru, Colombia, etc. Your fluency in Spanish could give you an edge in North America, among the growing Spanish Community. It will also come in handy when targeting the Central and North American communities.
To answer your question, how many languages you should learn, it all depends on the markets you are targeting. Though, it won’t hurt to learn a language at a time, and use online translations, in the meantime.
Eva Read is a professional writer and a content manager. She find inspiration in music, yoga and books. Her life motto is “Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”