Mr. Thomas Reaoch is a professional who is very qualified to talk about the difference between doing business in the United States (US) and in Brazil. Living in Brazil for almost 40 years now, this American citizen has already become a Brazilian at heart, and understands the cultural and business trends that take place in Brazil.
He provided very informative answers to the questions we posed to him about the experiences he has had doing business in both the US and Brazil (where he currently resides still). To reach out to him and learn more about his work, his contact information is the following: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.talk2brazil.com.
1. After many years living and working in Brazil, how do you recommend is the best way for businesses from abroad to reach out to and network with Brazilians (on a personal and professional level)?
On a professional level I recommend participation and contact through professional and business organizations like The American Chamber of Commerce Brazil – www.amchambrasil.com.br, The Federation of Industries FIESP, Sao Paulo – http://www.fiesp.com.br/ or FIRJAN Rio de Janeiro – http://www.firjan.org.br/. Most Brazilian cities also have associations for local retail and industrial companies, for example, here is the Association for the City of Campinas where I live, and have my business established at – http://www.acic.bz/. Through these one can find lists of members or an agenda of events and activities.
On a personal level, Brazilians also favor social clubs for their leisure and “social networking,” and the football teams in Brazil are generally parts of social clubs where members own an interest in the club. To become a member normally you need to be presented and vetted by an existing member.
2. What are the main challenges in doing business in Brazil?
I would say the main challenge for a foreign person in doing business is with the language. Statistics show that only 3 to 5 percent of Brazilian executives speak English or another second language. Statistics I have seen also show that the majority of the population is functionally illiterate (in Portuguese). Doing business or starting a business is more verbal, show and tell. Using Spanish to communicate with Brazilians is an option but my experience shows you “turn off Brazilians” with Spanish.
3. The business culture in the United States and in Brazil is different in many ways. Can you briefly describe these main differences, and what are some of the similarities between how business is done in both countries?
Today there are more similarities than differences. More and more Brazilians travel outside (to the US but also Europe and Asia) on leisure or to study and assimilate the American way of life and of doing business. Many American franchises have started in Brazil with shopping centers and malls popping up throughout the country and serving as examples of “Process oriented businesses”.
Brazilian business is relationship based and personal, and face to face contact is important. Brazilians want to know you before they want to know about your product or service. Therefore you need to dedicate more time and energy in Brazil than in the States. Brazilians also tend to take longer to decide and may never say “No, I´m not interested”. Getting to “Go” takes time.
4. When thinking about business opportunities in Brazil, what would you tell a foreign company – interested in doing business in Brazil – to first do before trying to enter the market?
Most foreigners do not grasp the physical size of the country. Brazil is still a great opportunity for business, receptive to all cultures, a real melting pot of technology and business practices from North America, Europe and Asia. The Brazilian Banking system is a world-class benchmark, while E-commerce and M-commerce offer huge growth opportunities. Economic growth is coming to parts of the country which have been unexplored from a business sense, including the North and Northeast.
5. From your own work experience training and consulting in Brazil, what did you learn over the years about working with Brazilian companies?
What I have learned is you need local specialists to help understand the fiscal, legal, environmental and labor regulations which can be very different from those in the US or Europe.
6. What makes Brazil unique and exciting, and why should foreign companies invest in Brazil?
On the plus side – language is also an opportunity with over 200 million inhabitants and close to 100 million consumers who speak the same language!! Brazilians are proud, ambitious, hardworking, eager to learn and very likable. A happy place to be.