Brazil has been getting a lot of attention from the international business community. This is no surprise, given the size and continued growth of its economy, the abundant natural resources, thriving tourism, and two major world sports events (the World Cup 2014 and the Summer Olympics 2016) – which have spurred huge improvements to infrastructure.
It all adds up to one inescapable conclusion: Brazil is THE place to be if you want to grow your business internationally.
The proof is in the numbers: the number of new businesses registered in Brazil grew from 680,881 in 2009 to 1,370,460 in 2010.
The challenges of doing business with Brazil
Unfortunately, international companies cannot expect to simply “open up shop” in Brazil and encounter no difficulties – success requires doing your homework.
The first problem is geography: Brazil is a huge country, with 26 states and 5 regions. The language – Portuguese – is one of the few things the whole country has in common. There are unique differences between each region, and even each state – differences in everything from culture to tax systems.
Speaking of Portuguese – that brings us to the second problem: very few people – estimates are about 5% – in Brazil speak English fluently.
The third problem revolves around legislation: bureaucracy, the complex (and high) tax system – including import duty and taxes – and the complex labor laws.
The final issue is culture: the Brazilian business culture is very unique and requires adaptation, as we covered in a previous blog post.
How to network in Brazil
All these challenges can be overcome if you do one thing: build a good business network in Brazil! But… how do you do that?
1. Learn Portuguese
First thing to do in order to ensure success is: learn Portuguese! It’s a beautiful language and, in relative terms (e.g., compared to Mandarin or Arabic or Russian) not that hard to learn.
By learning Portuguese it will be much, much easier to overcome all the challenges above: you’ll understand the glue that holds Brazil, will be able to communicate with virtually everybody in the country, will be able to better understand the legislation (without needing an invariably flawed translation) and will learn the culture as you learn the language.
2. Go out and mingle
Go to industry events within your business area. Attend every event you can and bring plenty of business cards.
This is particularly important in your early stages of learning Portuguese: you’re much more likely to find English-speaking Brazilians in IT industry events, and being in an environment where both languages are spoken will help you learn and practice it in an environment that is more familiar and ultimately less stressful. Having said that – do make sure you have basic Portuguese nailed down by the time you come to a tradeshow in Brazil, otherwise you will be pretty lost.
3. Make friends in Brazil!
Brazilians don’t really separate business and personal relationships. Your strongest, most fruitful business relationships in Brazil will be with people you can call your friends (“amigos”).
If you follow these tips, not only you’ll be sure to succeed in Brazil, your whole business will benefit.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a Trial Session to see how we can help you speak great Portuguese and navigate the Brazilian culture with ease.