A Guest Post by Erno Hannink
What I admire in the American culture is the quest for success. Most Americans I meet want to be number one and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone can make it and be a success is standard in the US culture. It already starts with the competitions at school.
Let me show you some differences with the European cultures and what an entrepreneur might learn from this difference.
In Europe becoming No 1 is not everyone’s agenda. It is nice to have financial success but not necessary. Our rating for tests in school in the Netherlands, where I live, is mostly from 1-10 and 10 is the best and 1 is really bad. Most of the Europeans feel that 6 is good enough, no need to go for that 10. It’s similar for most countries in Europe. You can see that same attitude in the workplace at organizations and companies. We try to satisfy the customer, there is not really a need to surpass their expectations on delivery.
Entrepreneurship is in American DNA and that grows the nation. Europeans work less and therefore we can spend more time with our families and friends, cook and have dinner at home. This is the basis for less stress and healthier lives.
Where there is great success there is also great failure. The difference in rich and poor is huge. In our culture, you can become rich but the poor have a safety net. The government plays a large role in this. If a company needs to fire employees, the fired employees get money — first from the company and later from the government. This all needs to be paid with taxes. This makes the gap between rich and poor somewhat smaller. The poor do not have it easy, but will survive, have a roof over their head and are able to eat food, and use the health system.
In most of the European schools, English is part of our education. More and more Europeans use American social networks like Facebook and YouTube. This means that more and more people read and speak English. However, language is in the detail. Detail is where we can make mistakes and have misunderstandings.
There is also a difference in the home base. In the US there are 50 states and many cultures, but mostly people speak the same language: English. In Europe there are 44 countries that all have their own culture but more importantly, most have their own language. This makes the home base for a companies service or product already a lot smaller. Selling your products in several European countries is easier said than done. It involves language, cultural and national regulations.
I have worked for and with companies from the US and all over Europe. It is great to learn and enjoy all these cultural differences. If you want to expand you business outside the US it relatively easy these days. You can get in contact with local people via the social networks and get to know potential partners.
Once you start working with people from outside your culture it is great to see what you can learn from them. Take care not to force your way of working on to the other culture.
Have you been to Europe? Next time you come to Europe look at the differences and see what you might take home to use in your way of working. I would love to connect with you, I want to learn from you and maybe you can learn from me.
Erno Hannink is a Social Media Specialist for Independent Professionals and Social Media Business Coach. Through the use of social media and a focus on online publishing of valuable information, Erno helps independent professionals attract and retain more clients. He is the author of the book ‘Attracting Clients â How Independent Professionals and solopreneurs can get new clients using the internet” (free download) and also blogs on enthousiasmeren.nl (Dutch). You can find Erno on Twitter as @ErnoHannink
Thanks, Erno. I’ve enjoyed knowing and learning from and with you. 🙂
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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