In a casual, interactive and energizing atmosphere, I met a group of Brazilian entrepreneurs in Toronto to talk about hard work, failure and success.
Felipe Veras created a non-profit organization, NextLevelHub is an access channel for Brazilian entrepreneurs to have the first contact with the Canadian innovation ecosystem. Rodrigo Rezende founded Atoms Integrator, he is Project and Community manager and with his partners develop international programs for entrepreneurial education. Rafael Miranda is incubating Legalbox in Toronto, a compact platform for legal services. Clávia Castilhos is studying and wants to open her business by joining clothing design and sustainability. Daniel Savi is a specialist in multi-platform software development and move to Canada to seek a better quality of life. Rodrigo Fernandes is a serial entrepreneur and has accelerated one of his initiatives in Canada and also develops partnerships with Canadian companies to connect Brazilian talent in technology. Leslie Virag was our special guest, she is a consultant in intercultural communication.
We shared a coffee table at the "Social BoxCar" an intimate coffee&bar in Summerhill, Toronto.
Every entrepreneur who comes to Canada has a different story to tell, but everyone has something in common: personal and professional fulfillment.
The desire to undertake internationally is not common for all entrepreneurs; however, in face of the new economy and the globalized society, the initiative to invest and transform products and services to reach international markets and solve global problems has been an excellent opportunity for Brazilians. Whether it is from a new business ideation or a strategy implementation to scale an existent business, the opportunity to undertake in other countries and markets is always attractive.
The political and economic scenario in Brazil in 2017 does not show significant signs of improvement, and it continues to awaken an option for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses in more economically stable markets, a place where their effort and hard work is recognized and the results are rewarding.
In fact, it is not just about "getting some money and venturing", the narrative is always repeated when talking with the Brazilians who have fought to succeed: There is no "cakewalk" and no "jeitinho Brasileiro" - Brazilian way to break rules - every entrepreneur goes through a process of experiencing a new reality. Understanding the environment, the way of doing business, the communication model, and the dynamic of local entrepreneurial ecosystem are some of the barriers that need to be overcome.
Education is perhaps one of the basic elements for any entrepreneur seeking to develop or expand their business internationally. With rare exceptions, the rule is simple: a business plan, proven experiences, some success stories, good education and master the foreign language; reading, writing, speaking and why not "thinking" in the local language are crucial. Of course, when we experience other cultures, we all make mistakes when we are speaking, or even use expressions that do not make much sense in the local culture. In fact we make few mistakes in our native language, it happens because this is directly linked to the regional culture and people origins. However, the level of communication in business English will direct impact in your business results.
Canada is a country that stands out as one of the best places to invest and to undertake. The Southern Ontario region is the place most chosen by Brazilian entrepreneurs in Canada, not only because of the strategic geographic location to access other markets such as, USA, UK, Middle East, China for example; but also for being a cluster of innovation and, among other factors, being in practically the same time zone of Brazil is super convenient.
The way to do business in Canada is completely different from the model in Brazil, and it also has important differences from the US model. One of the main difficulties to bring a business or even immigrate to Canada are related with cultural barriers. Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries; recognizing, respecting, and dealing with cultural differences is critical to succeed.
When it comes to understanding and eliminating communication barriers for business, Leslie Virag is a master. She has a boutique consulting company and uses scientific methods and communication formulas to help her clients to eliminate cultural barriers. "You need to give some space for Canadians even in an informal conversation", and it is an essential ability for business development in Canada.
Leslie mentions that Brazilians have some competitive advantages in doing international business. In addition to the creativity developed by Brazilians to survive in unstable environments, she confirms that already mapped a pattern of behaviour. Leslie says that "Brazilians are always one step ahead" and complements that "it is important to know how to use this advantage without destroying a conversation, a business connection or a perception of trust."
Trust, a word that is part of the business around the world, "It is hard to build and easy to lose". For Canadians trust comes first then business deals. Trust in Canada is based on reputation, business history, and personal referral; it is about a true network in Canada land. In other words, "being reliable and knowing how to communicate" or "speech and action" always are together in the northern lands.
The sense of belonging is one of the main challenges for those starting a journey in another country. Creating new referrals and being part of something important is essential to maintaining the emotional balance for successful international entrepreneurs. In Canada there are many groups, "tribes" and communities that act as true support channels to control the stress. Regardless of the stage of maturity or size of the company, being connected to the local community and developing networking are mandatory tasks for business health and also for the health of the entrepreneur; after all, reputation and trust are two keys that open many doors.
Every entrepreneur goes through the familiar sensation of "friozinho na barriga" - the gut feling - It is the fear of failing and not succeed; and entrepreneurs will often fail. Recognizing failure, analyzing mistakes, using critical thinking and contextual intelligence in decision making will help to assimilate the blow and take the next step in the right direction. The other option would be to panic and abandon the opportunity for achievement and success in the future.
After all, what would be the meaning of success for Brazilian entrepreneurs in Canada? The answer is very individual but it certainly has intersection with: "doing what you like to do and transform this in your business". As an entrepreneur another good description could be "transforming an idea into a sustainable business that bring some value to local, regional or global society". The achievement for those entrepreneurs is to feel useful in delivering value, engage and retain new customers constantly and generate increasing revenue, because after all we are talking about business.
Let's grab a coffee!