Exporting to Europe: Not the Challenges You Think

If you plan to do sell your product or service in Europe the problems you encounter may not be the ones you expect. It’s easy to focus on perceived difficulties, such as the so-called ‘language barrier’, while not noticing the real pitfalls – until it’s too late. I learned three lessons the hard way: appreciate the different cultures, understand the value of quality vs. speed, and know which foreign language is key to your business.

If you hope to compete with local firms in Europe you must understand European business cultures. Notice the use of the word of the word ‘cultures’ – plural. When I first started doing business in Europe, three years ago, one of the first things I learned was that the European business environment is much more diverse than in the States. Despite the introduction of the single currency, Europe is not a single business entity. Different countries retain different ways of doing things. Like many Americans doing business in Europe for the first time, I learned this the hard way. After a number of awkward meetings and deals that mysteriously didn’t go through I began to understand that it was a bad idea to deal with Europeans like I dealt with people back home.

The American business model prevails in northern Europe – with the UK and possibly Germany representing the nearest thing Europe has to a US-style approach. Businesses in former Easter Bloc countries that have recently joined the EU are also very US-friendly. During the Soviet years America represented freedom; American business can now reap the rewards of that iconic status.

The rest of ‘old Europe’ is a little different and you should be aware of each country’s customs. Italy, for example, retains a way of doing business that might seem bureaucratic and patriarchal to Americans. Even Silvio Berlusconi – a good friend of US business – is known as ‘Papa’ Berlusconi in some Italian circles. In France, a history of civil libertarianism twinned with state control that stretches back to the revolution of 1789 has nurtured a business culture that favors consensus rather than individual leadership. It’s important to do your research – not only on a country’s business structures but also on its general culture and history. It’s even more important to get to know the people. If you travel to Madrid to cut a deal having never before set foot in Spain you are at a disadvantage.

Business people in old Europe have slightly different perceptions of what constitutes good practice from their US counterparts. Although it would be patronizing to say that a maƱana culture persists in southern European business, it is true that timeliness is not considered a virtue in the way it is in the States. For European business people, providing a quality product or service is much more important than adhering slavishly to deadlines or driving the hardest possible bargain. Because of this difference in values, Europeans often perceive Americans as being ‘pushy’ – when the Americans in question think they’re simply being businesslike.

When I first came to Europe I thought that the most important thing was to learn languages – I was wrong. Most European business people accept English as the lingua franca of international business. However, you don’t want to risk seeming ignorant. A reasonable level of conversational French or German, for example, will come in useful. I have found that many Europeans have a prejudice about perceived American ignorance of the outside world. Showing a little linguistic skill – and, more important, willingness – will be to your advantage.

My experience is that knowing the local language is particularly useful in France. The French have traditionally been very protective of their mother tongue. Today, many native speakers consider French to be in a state of crisis, attacked on all sides by international English – so your French hosts will warm to you quickly if you seem keen to speak it to them. Again, showing you are willing to try is more important than being fluent.

Even so, skills learned in language classes back home are useless unless basic cultural differences are understood. Once again, do your research: time talking to locals or reading about European culture and history will be well spent. Knowing a little history is especially important if you’re working in Greece or any of the nearby EU satellite states in the Balkans. Educated people there will often talk about events of a millennium past as if they happened yesterday. There is a perception all over Europe that Americans follow Henry Ford’s maxim ‘history is bunk’ – I made friends quickly when I disproved this prejudice.

The good news is that Europeans are more like us than they are different: the general cultures of both continents respects business and promotes honest dealing – but it’s important not to let the small differences cost you money.

Does Your Business Require A Merchant Account For Europe?

E-commerce businesses require the capability of being able to accept and process credit/debit cards online – being able to do that only means a 75% increase in potential sales and worldwide acceptance for your online business. Not just that but you also require multi-currency processing and offshore payment processing capabilities just to expand your business globally. The Europe offers great business opportunities for several e-commerce businesses and having a merchant account for Europe can give your business a lot of great opportunities.

What the Merchant Accounts for Europe can offer

The Europe merchant account will allow your business a vigorous worldwide growth with:

    o Multi-currency credit card processing – with international and multi-currency payment processing you can offer your products and services to a worldwide audience and become capable of accepting and receiving payments in foreign exchange. o Secure Transactions – your Europe merchant account will offer you secure transaction and payment processing facility. With online fraud protection and SSL encrypted servers you and your customers become capable of processing in a safe environment. o Quick and Easy Approval – Faster approval and easy setup of the Europe merchant account allows you to start offering your services to the worldwide market in no time at all. o Technical Support – Europe merchant accounts will provide you a 24/7 customer care and professional advice to build customer confidence. o All Major Credit Card Acceptance – with a Europe merchant account you become capable of accepting all kind of major credit/debit cards. o API Integration – Simple API integration for all major platforms o High Risk Merchant Accounts – all kinds of high risk merchant accounts for Europe are accepted. Like online casino, pharmacy, adult merchants, travel online dating, tobacco merchants etc. o Offshore Merchant Accounts for Europe – offshore merchant accounts offer various economical advantages along with reduced tax benefits. o Offshore and High Risk Credit Card Processing – being able to accept credit card payments online will help boost your business and build a strong customer base for you. o Secure Payment Gateway and Virtual Terminal – allow you to secure transactions and payments safely online. o Fraud and Credit Card Scam Protection – a necessity for minimizing the fraud threats and help protect your transactions in the fraudulent e-commerce world. o Online Reporting and Recurring Billing – Automated recurring billing and online reporting facility for the Europe merchant accounts allows merchants to view transaction reports online. o Real-time Processing and Cost Effective Solutions – enable you to take your business to a new horizon and beyond the geographical boundaries. o Payment Processing Options – with the Europe merchant account you will be able to offer your customers various payment processing options like ACH, ELV, direct debit, bank wire and credit/debit card processing services.

Business Aviation

Cessna Citation X

In November 2009 Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. company, delivered the 300th Cessna Citation X. The Citation X has enjoyed most recent success in Russia and Eastern Europe.

The Cessna Citation X is the world’s fastest non-military aircraft, top speed very close to the speed of sound at.92 Mach. Launched in 1990, the Citation X is the top of Cessna’s range of light and mid-size business jets.

Cessna Aircraft Company is the world’s largest manufacturer of general aviation aircraft. Having produced more than 6,000 Cessna Citations, they are also the manufacturer of the largest fleet of business jets in the world.

Cessna Authorised Service Centre London England, jewel amongst FBOs Europe

In the UK, one of the major business aviation centres in Europe and FBOs Europe, Marshall Aerospace Business Aviation Centre London England has during the noughties been awarded Cessna’s Citation Service Centre Parts Sales Performance Award for two years in succession. They can see Cessna Inventory as becoming a key growth area for the company. They are busy developing maintenance hangars and AOG support teams with the capability to offer AOG support to customers with a “round-the-clock” global corporate aircraft maintenance service for business aircraft commercial operators.

Based at the Marshall Airport Cambridge in the UK, Marshall has been established in the business, corporate and general aviation sector for over 40 years. They have enjoyed the status of a Cessna Authorised Service Centre London England for over 30 years. To meet growing demand, the company is currently doubling its business aviation facilities with a new integrated MRO/ FBO capability at Cambridge.

Global contrast, Production and job cuts.

All of this is good news and takes a long term view at a time of global recession. In the short term, Gulfstream is reducing mid-sized aircraft production. New orders are down despite a large-cabin backlog increasing production in 2009. Cessna announced at the beginning of the year that it would be cutting jobs in a $30 million restructuring. The slowdown in the private jet industry has knocked on the head, at least temporarily, Cessna’s new plane, the Citation Columbus.

The private jet industry has blamed last summer’s fuel price spike, the recession, and public opinion about private jet travel. Bombardier too said that it would be slowing production of Learjet and Challenger. Embraer also released a 20-year market forecast predicting a 10% drop in demand for regional jets, which included a 60% decline for the 30- to 60-seat market sector.

Business aviation has an image problem which includes the negative publicity surrounding the episode late in 2008 when the heads of America’s troubled automotive manufacturers travelled in corporate jets to Washington to ask for government bail-outs.