Do you need to forget your ethics when going internationally?

No, you do not need to forget your ethics to enter a new market. However, you do need to understand the cultural background of the country you are entering so that you can avoid problems and awkward situations. And do not forget that, if you want to go internationally, being a “cultural illiterate” can jeopardise your business. Though, if you are still asking “why do I need to learn about other cultures if I have a top notch product to offer ?” you are being silly and naive.

Before you enter a new market (country) you need to do a strong cultural analysis including how to do business locally. You should also understand that skipping it it is the same as investing in a new project without a cash flow analysis or a Net Present Value calculation. It is a huge mistake that will cost you lots of money.

I would like to highlight, though, that cultural diversity is highly underestimated when preparing a business plan to go internationally. Companies spend great amounts of money and resources on financial viability studies and exhaustive marketing studies but they normally fail to include a cultural study into the business plan. Therefore, the sooner you acknowledge the cultural and ethic differences the better. Defining an ethical code to operate internationally is rather important while expanding. The code should remain faithful to the company’s vision, believes and social responsibilities, and should include a list of guidelines to help your teams behaving in the field. Ethics is too important not to consider it while operating internationally. Do yourself a favour and include a cultural study and your ethical guidelines in the business plan before deploying your resources on the field. Good luck!