Can I spend the first year on location just learning language?
The simple answer is NO!
In most closed countries, it does not make sense for a foreign business person to come in and spend a full year learning language (6 weeks – maybe). There will be immediate questions like:
We all agree that language learning is vital for any long-term tentmaker! The question that we must address is:
How can I spend my first year learning language while developing my professional identity?
A quick side note: You may want to head to another location first to spend a year in language. This will allow you to focus on language but not have the pressure of your work. The blog post assumes learning language in the location you plan to live.
Market Research – One idea that works
Over the past few years, we have developed a method that seems to work in allowing new kingdom workers to study language while developing their professional identity. The basic principle is to come on behalf of an international company to carry out market research.
Maybe an example is the best way to illustrate what I am talking about.
While you were on your scouting trip to your focus country, you asked around to find out what were some of the felt needs and potential business opportunities. From this simple research, you decide that the hospitality industry is a sector that seems to make sense in your new focus country.
After some time, you narrowed your ideas down to a guesthouse, restaurant, or an internet businesses promoting local hotels and restaurants.
Before you set off for your new life as a tentmaker, you approach an existing hotel owner or restaurant owner to see if you can do some market research on their behalf. You ask for permission to use their business name in return for a feasibility study in your focus country.
If the business agrees, they can provide you with a business card, some promotional materials and other business information. You agree to provide them with a full study of how viable a hotel or restaurant would be in the focus country.
When you arrive in your new country, you now have a true identity that you can share with anyone who asks. You can quickly and easily explain that you have been sent on behalf of an international company to do market research.
You have enough funds to live on location for a certain period of time to carry out the study. You then explain that in order to effectively carry out the research, you will need to know the local language (for when you meet non-English speakers). You explain that you would like to study 15 hours per week, which will allow you 30 hours per week to effectively carry out your market research.
Note: If you spend 30 hours per week in the community interviewing people, doing research, and gathering information on the business laws, you will have tons of opportunities to practice your language.
The key: YOU REALLY NEED TO BE DOING MARKET RESEARCH!
At the 6 to 9 month mark, you should have enough market research to conclude if the business idea is viable. You can write your feasibility studies and present them to the businesses back in your sending country.
If one of the businesses looks like a strong candidate OR you found another business idea that looks even better, it will make a lot of sense to your friends and community if you launch into the idea you have been researching.
Perhaps you have some other ideas of how to use the first year well!
Leave a comment below…
Developing a strong identity is very important when starting out in a new location. Make sure you take time alone or which your team to develop your plan for a strong identity.