Dancing alone or just with your mates
Dancing on your own or just with your mates is the perfect way to get your truth confirmed, and to re-enforce your lived experience. If you are a startup and just want customers like you that’s a great way to start a business. However:
I often hear it said that ““Diversity and Inclusion” is for big business. So, as an entrepreneur it doesn’t affect me”. In the UK, you need to have a diversity policy to apply for government work, though I do not think they care whether or not you implement it. No amount of your truth through ‘lived experience ‘ will enable you to disregard the wisdom of the many , so as an entrepreneur use others’ diverse lived experience. It is essential that you do.
Dancing with others
Featured in the pictures is Jorge. He is from Cuba, he is gay, and he is young. He teaches posture and dancing – samba, bachata etc. He is in Spain. His clients are principally older, straight, white women from Sweden (he speaks the language and has lived there), England (he is learning the language), Netherlands, Norway and Spain (native language). The competition is tough, there are many dancing teachers. He has taken advice on how his clients behave when these ex-pats are in Spain. This is not the same as when they are in their native countries. Not only his he an expert dancer, he as learnt interculturality from people totally different from himself, particularly recognising that dancing is a contact sport with different rules in different countries.
Across the world, immigrants have opened restaurants. Among the Chinese communities, some of the restauranteurs keep to authentic Chinese food and thus the clientele is the local Chinese and those who appreciate it. Others sanitise the food, so it is attractive to the host community, while others recognise that it’s not just the food that is important but also the way you treat the clients. They understand that throwing the food on the table on cracked plates may be exotic but it is not the way to build a business with international or multi-ethnic clients. A Chinese family business is exactly that, so the likelihood is that the workers are only Chinese. But those who want to grow the business need to know the cultural preferences of the non-Chinese people they are surrounded by. In Australia the difference between ‘local’ Chinese in Chinatown and those in the nearby international areas is astonishing. The clients can choose ‘ethnic’ or sanitised.
Greeks, Italians, Turkish, Indians, Scandinavians
Then there are the complications of Italians running Greek restaurants. Immediate culture clash. Were they quick enough off the mark when ‘Turkish’ coffee suddenly became ‘Greek’ coffee in the 1970s? In the costal towns of Spain, the Nepalese produce Indian Curry for the other expats such as Brits and Scandinavians as the local Spanish don’t like it. They have to understand many cultures.
Who are your target customers?
From the get go, an entrepreneur or start-up needs to decide who his/her customers are going to be. If they are exactly like him/her – fine, but that excludes 90% of the population. If a company requires technology, if it builds a website for locals, then it is likely to write its text in one language, use one currency and wont choose a more expensive dotcom web address to demonstrate internationalness. It’s very difficult to change your website suffix, add new languages and currencies later. So, from day one, consider who you want your customers to be, and build for different currencies and languages.
People NOT like you
People like you can be from your country but also from everywhere else. They can be different ages, sexes, sexualities, races and still be exactly like you. And if you employ “people like you”, or even seek their advice, the chances are that they will confirm your prejudices, meaning that you will gear your sales to only “people like you”. The consequence being that you will miss out on a huge number of opportunities because of your inbuilt bias. I recall a greeting card vendor who only retailed cards they personally liked – and went out of business not knowing why.
Worldview and Cognitive Diversity
We are all people who sometimes “do the right thing” or “preserve the family regardless of the individual preferences in it” or “seek power”. You will have behaviours which enforce your preferences. The more different your colleagues are from you in these categories, the more likely you are to attract a broader clientele.
Some sales persons start with “Imagine how it would feel if you bought …”. Some people like to imagine, for others it’s a turn off. Some people like lots of technical details, others like high-level benefits. Do you really need to know how your car works? If you are a salesperson with an engineering background, you may insist on telling potential buyers of a car’s technical characteristics and hence turn off 50% of them. A favourite line of a nearby real estate agent is “Wake up and smell the coffee…” again tapping into the ‘emotional’ folks, and turning off the non-emotional or logical folks – and those who don’t like coffee.
Think BIG from the start
As an entrepreneur you need to think big from the start, to maximise sales opportunities. So, employ, or take advice from people who are completely different from you, not your mates at the bar, the gym or golf club. Choose the kind of advisors who are nothing like you but are like the customers you want to attract, where with your personality and prejudices you have no hope of luring them in.
Smart Coaching & Training works with 20 associates, in four continents speaking 11 languages and raised and working in a wide range of cultures. We can certainly come up with people exactly like you but you would be better working with the exact opposite. See our associates here
In conjunction with Professional Speakers Association (Spain) , SCT’s David Rigby will be present at the TEDx Marbella event on June 9 focussing on Entrepreneurs