Learning Spanish to do Business in Spain

Everyone speaks English in Torremolinos – right?

a1blogSo, you’re thinking about opening a bar in Spain? You’ve found a gap in the market and you have your eye on a property. So far so good, but have you thought about learning the language?

It’s true, you may be able to get by in English if your bar is in a tourist area, but you will soon find that the success of your new business will rely on establishing good working relationships with locals, who may not be able to speak your language.

Communication is the key to business in Spain, where deals are done on the golf course and most contracts are signed over a long working lunch. If you can negotiate in Spanish you are far more likely to gain respect, be taken seriously and to get a better deal in the end!
Remember, your Spanish doesn’t have to be perfect. Spaniards love to see people take an interest in their culture and they respond really well to people that make the effort to speak their language, regardless of mistakes!

Get to know the locals

Learning Spanish to do business in Spain - Image by informeanual.abengoa.comThe concept of doing business in Spanish may seem daunting at first, but rest assured, the people are approachable and polite and they will be happy to help you out if you show that you are willing to make the effort to speak to them. Mastering the basics will allow you to buy from wholesalers, negotiate with decorators and deal with local suppliers outside of the tourist areas. You will often get a better deal from these city traders but they will rarely speak fluent English.

Locals will often ‘go the extra mile’ for foreigners who attempt to speak Spanish and if you can make small talk with passing folk you will be far more readily accepted into the community. All tourist towns have a population of natives and it is a good idea to get acquainted with them if you can. In the slow months you may find that you rely on these locals for your income and if you can offer a polite friendly service in Spanish you will immediately increase the possibility of repeat business. After all, there is nothing more off-putting than walking into a bar in your home country and being misunderstood when you ask for a pint!

Ditch the interpreter!

Learning Spanish to do business in SpainLanguage barriers can make the smallest task seem like a mission and you will soon find communicating with hand gestures exasperating. You will need an agent to deal with the legalities of setting up your business but a few well placed phrases will save the expense of an interpreter in the log run. Opening a bank account or shopping at the street market will seem like a walk in the park!

Using your language skills to hire some local staff is a good idea too. In the summer months you will be able to catch the seasonal English speaking gap workers but it is unlikely that they will stick out the winter months. Employing locals will demonstrate your contribution to the local economy and will provide a link to your Spanish customers. Remember, your employees are ambassadors for your business and choosing wisely will smooth the path in the long run.

In at the deep end

Learning Spanish to do Business in Spain - Image by tesladesignlab.comSo you’ve made the move and you’re ready to start living the dream! Relocation is a major lifestyle change and a little culture shock is an unavoidable part of the process. Language is an integral part of any culture and to feel really at home a basic understanding is invaluable. Learning some useful phrases before you arrive can help, but nothing can prepare you for your first conversation with a bona fide local!

Immersion (being thrown in at the deep end) is the best if not the only way to learn Spanish. Imagine, if you will, a foreigner trying to understand the locals in Newcastle or New York – ouch!

The same differences in dialect and pronunciation exist in Spain and the best way to grasp the language in your area is to learn locally. There are plenty of language schools and universities in Spain that offer tailor made courses to suit your budget, level and amount of spare time. Many offer cultural excursions, a great way to see the country and make some friends while you still have some spare time!

Remember, a little goes a long way and the sooner you can start speaking the better the potential of your business! Good luck!

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