Recent data shows that people who can speak more than one language have higher chances of success in their careers. We live in a boosting globalized economy where being a polyglot comes with great advantages. In the business environment, having the ability to speak other languages can be the key to corporate success.
The international business community acknowledges that polyglots are indispensible. They’re the secret tool to building foreign relationships and today’s competitive corporations are well aware of that fact.
The Schengen area has never been tested to the same level as it is now. The unprecedented volume of refugees arriving in Europe has left its leaders struggling to cope. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, issued a sober warning that the crisis puts Schengen into question, while Italy says it is ready to impose border controls and Hungary has sealed off its main train station.
Those who travel overseas for business purposes are usually impressed to see that the skills they use on a daily basis in their country don’t always apply to a foreign audience.
Making a start-up recognized in another country is challenging. How can you succeed though? Is there something you can do to entice a foreign audience if you don’t have time to take an international business degree?
If you’re from the USA, then you’re in luck. However, companies from Europe for example, won’t stand a change in the United States of America if the CEO can’t speak English fluently to market his business and deliver a compelling presentation.
Successful international business relationships are based on efficient negotiations. It is important for negotiators to be prepared to deal with unexpected situations. Having a clear understand of what’s necessary to attain thriving outcomes as well as be aware of relevant factors to the whole process will permit you to become successful. Ideally some of your team would have background in Digital and Social Media Marketing, or International business; but, getting your online business profile ready for international negotiations doesn’t have to be such a dreadful endeavor. All you need to do is remain focused on the facts and look for a way to build a professional relation with business partners.
Silicon Valley has become a synonym for innovation and, with its ecosystem of super-moneyed venture capitalists, it is world renowned as a hub for new products and software. Europe meanwhile has struggled to produce the likes of Facebook, Amazon or PayPal, or to garner the levels of investment for its startups. But could that be about to change?
Start-ups tend to succeed as part of a community or innovation ecosystem. Our research into these ecosystems found that the critical success factor for innovation and start-up cultures is the importance of a university city region. These are places where there is a concentration of intellectual capital and high levels of funders that are happy to take risks.
The other key ingredients are knowledge and financial capital, a willingness to take risks (and fail), and the drive to succeed. A comparison of the US and European start-up scene on these fronts shows why the US is still out in front when it comes to attracting investment and delivering new innovation.
1. Intellectual capital
European universities are coming second to their US counterparts in the creation of intellectual capital. A simple indicator is the international Higher Education league table with only three of the top ten universities located in Europe (and all of these are in the UK).
Not surprisingly, given their proximity to Silicon Valley, the California Institute of Technology, Berkeley and Stanford are at the top of this list. With Silicon Valley on their doorstep all three institutions have successful business founders and entrepreneurs working in university posts, sharing their knowledge, identifying the most talented students and looking for the next big innovations. This culture of giving back is not commonly found in European universities.
By contrast, the European universities in the top ten all fall within the much more widely dispersed “Golden Triangle” of top UK universities, concentrated around Oxford, Cambridge and London. This region sees significant research investment and innovation as a result.
Result: Europe 0 US 1
2. Financial capital
The close relationship between the US higher education system and its high tech centres provides a direct supply chain of knowledge capital. However, innovation also requires the steady supply of financial capital. Recent figures provide some reassurance that the UK is becoming a nation of angel investors that are younger and female. The internal boundaries of the European Union appear to be no barrier to innovation with investors who are happy to invest across it and travel if and when needed.
These positives are no consolation for the largest startup investment infrastructure being based in the US. Angel List, a web-based platform for managing start-ups, alone was able to raise more than US$100m in one year in 2014. This disparity between the US and Europe in their ability to raise capital is evident at many levels.
Result: Europe 0 US 2
3. Risk and failure culture
Silicon Valley is built on a gold rush mentality. Make mistakes and then learn and build on them quickly.
In contrast, in European cultures failure is perceived as a negative and a situation that is to be minimised and avoided at all costs. National social security systems, regulations and long procedures when it comes to establishing new business ventures are just some of the legacies of this culture that burden European innovation.
The recent Edelman Trust Barometer Survey of 27,000 respondents adds further insight into the European mindset. It found that expectations of honesty and fair play are expected requirements for building trust between entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors. A lack of trust between those with ideas and those with money hinders innovation and the development of enterprising economies.
Thus the European start-up scene suffers from playing it too safe. The result can be seen in a recent European Commission ranking of innovation, which places the US at the top of the list and outperforming Europe by 17%.
Result: Europe 0 US 3
4. Necessity is the mother of invention
When it comes to having motivation to create a start-up, not having work or low employment opportunities can sometimes be a good thing. Necessity is the mother of invention and if an individual has no other option and has nothing to lose they are more likely to ignore a lack of knowledge or financial capital and take risks. Europe has now faced the largest economic crisis since World War II, with many pushed into self employment.
Unemployment in the European market means more individuals are looking for work and some of these are considering the option of setting up their own business. To create a start-up culture there is a need for a critical mass of individuals working with one another, bouncing around ideas and prepared to fail – and learn – together.
Result: Europe 1 US 3
If you can’t beat ’em …
Based on these criteria it does seem that an entrepreneur interested in making it big has more chance of success in Silicon Valley. However, there is some hope for European entrepreneurs if they set themselves up near The Silicon Roundabout (or Tech City) in London where investment is growing. Germany too has a budding start-up scene, which is competing with the UK capital to attract international talent – and investment.
Of course, positioning the US and European start-up scenes as competitors is missing the biggest opportunity. The benefits of both locations are best combined through collaboration.
Europe is, and is predicted to remain, in an economic position where there is market receptiveness to innovation. The US meanwhile is better able to bridge the gap from idea to realisation. This is a powerful combination to fuel the next wave of technological innovation and start-ups, including wearables, implantables and EEG controlled devices.