Every 4 years the world football cup fever takes over. Everybody suddenly seems to like football. How can you not be swept by the fever? This year all eyes are cast on Brazil, as host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But Brazil has been on the main stage for some years now, as a profitable business harbour.
The news tell us that while stadiums are not ready yet, hotels are fully booked, local transport is not equipped to host so many football fans, and there is talk of eviction and corruption. All this does not matter because Brazil is a fun and welcoming country. Brazil is hot!
Brazil is simply too big a market to ignore. It is the fifth-largest country in the world, with a population of approximately 200 million. It has one of the world's most rapidly developing economies and a GDP per head that is greater than either India or China. It has natural resources in abundance, a developed industrial base, high standards in scientific research and substantial human capital.
Today, Brazil is asserting its presence on the world stage as an emerging power and is enjoying its first sustained period of export-led growth in 20 years. Consumers and businesses have developed higher standards, both for quality and value for money and Brazil has a large, and prosperous middle class with an appetite for quality goods and services every bit as demanding as the consumer in London, Paris or New York. Against this background, Brazil has immense potential as a trade and investment partner, with huge opportunities for European companies across a range of sectors. No wonder Europeans are looking for ways to do business in Brazil and have a piece of the tropical pie.
The right approach to Brazil
If you choose to do business in Brazil, try to learn a little about the country first. Brazil is vast and diverse. Many cultures from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have contributed to form the nation, rendering it a true melting pot.
Some of the customs in Brazil differ significantly from the Dutch. Here some tips and information that could help you to be successful in your business endeavour.
- Take a long-term approach, but do not always stick too rigidly to your plans. Things often change rapidly and unexpectedly in Brazil. Brazilians are flexible, and famous for finding a way around problems.
- Patience is a virtue. Some things may take longer to set up than you expect (especially if they involve bureaucracy), so allow for this in your preparations.
- Due to decades of economic instability, hyperinflation and awkward government policies that influenced life and business, the Brazilian businessperson has become short-term minded, with a great ability to review plans, and improvise. Improvisation has a strong presence in people's habits and business in general.
- Punctuality can sometimes be an issue in Brazil, but you should not interpret lateness as a sign of rudeness or laziness.
- Brazilian business is hierarchical. Decisions are made by the highest-ranking person. Working together is important but authority is determinant.
- Brazilians prefer face-to-face meetings to written communication as it allows them to know the person with whom they are doing business. The individual they deal with is more important than the company this person represents. Brazilians negotiate with people not companies.
One more tip
When giving instructions be clear, precise and comprehensive – when things do not happen ask yourself: were my instructions well explained? Not too much, not too little?
When your Brazilian team and you need to take a decision that is important and time sensitive be sure to tell them when it has to be ready, what do they need to do and ABOVE all tell them what are the consequences if they do not react on your request. For example: “we need to decide which colour chairs we want to have for the new office. The choice is between orange chairs, green or yellow ones. The decision needs to be made by tomorrow afternoon 3 p.m., otherwise we will settle for orange chairs as this is the main colour of our logo.”
If they do not like the choice they will make sure you have their answer on time!
Welcome to Brazil, enjoy your stay, your business and if you can catch a game or two.
By Edmée Schakx, MSc, BA, PCC
Edmée is an Applied Anthropologist and a professional certified coach. In l999 she started her own enterprise aNDE Leadership Solutions On Demand where she offers tailor made solutions for leadership development programmes to support managers becoming effective leaders. More info