Meanwhile, I'm headed to Singapore--with a layover in Korea--and wondering what this all means for Singapore which condemned the missile test, especially because the Chinese and Singaporeans do A LOT of business together.
Doing business globally is exciting but sometimes the open waters of opportunity can get choppy--you need to be savvy in wading through them.
Here are 8 ways to keep your business thriving when making deals in countries where international relations could go awry:
Do the math.
First thing's first, before doing business abroad, set your budget. Decide what the financials should be and what kind of loss your business can handle in a worst-case scenario.
Think like Ikea.
After working the numbers, then proceed with caution.
Before making the move into U.S. territory, Ikea piloted a store--and it was a good thing they did. The furniture-maker soon realized that their product was too small for their consumers. The company had to retool its blueprint before investing more money in the region.
Running a test store and doing market research saved the company from a debilitating failure. They had an exit strategy and thankfully just needed to alter plans before moving ahead.
Be like Switzerland.
No matter what opinions you have on the current state of international affairs--remain neutral in your conversations with business partners. Even if others insist on discussing it, be diplomatic (even if your country's politicians aren't).
When I do business in Germany, I'm often asked about my opinion on politics but I don't necessarily share my own POV. Instead, I state all sides of the argument, "Some people feel this...while others think this..." This strategy allows me to keep my credibility by showing I can think and dialogue in a critical way without offending anyone.
Ask, don't tell.
Another great way to deflect questions and avoid conflict is to act like an anthropologist and ask more questions than you answer. Find out how they feel about the situation, and how it might impact them, their family, business, or society.
The information will be interesting to you and potentially useful for your business.
Be in the know.
If you're doing business in a country that was recently sanctioned by your country (see, Russia and the U.S.), contact the Department of State to find out the specifics. (The U.S. has a round-up of sanctions on its website.) Some sanctions may be severe while others may not have an impact on your individual business dealings.
It's also a good idea to talk with local authorities to know specifically how the restrictions are impacting that area of the world.
Tone it down.
No matter the strength of your national pride, tone it down. Nationalism is a good thing to have, but it can be an albatross when doing business abroad. It could make you appear arrogant or ignorant.
Get someone on the ground.
If travel is still allowed in the country, assign someone on the project to act like a foreign diplomat.
This person will travel to the area, liaise with business partners and government officials and stay up to date on developments. The person on your team with the strongest global mindset is the best person for this job. (You can find that out by using the Global Mindset Inventory).
If you discover that sanctions are severe for doing business in a country your country isn't getting along with--it's important to not give up, but also important to not push ahead. After all, you could end up breaking the law!
Continue to learn the possibilities that lie ahead. Keep your business partners and local authorities close to find out when, or if, things will get better; if the project can be postponed; or if it is time to throw in the towel--and move on.