Someone said, It is not what is said or done that is important but what is being perceived.
All businessmen have the same bottom-lines in general, profitability as well as a trust-worthy long term relationship.
We suggest that before getting down to the question of profitability, work first on the aspect of trustworthiness.
First impressions are important. Due to their background and culture, the emotion-charged Latin American has an unusually sharp eye to see through facades.
Handshakes, among several other things, is a common gesture in Latin America.
In fact, our experience in Latin America tells us that they shake hands more than many other cultures - and that is not just between businessmen but especially among friends.
Culturally, the firm handshake coupled with sincere eye-contact is perceived as not just acceptance but also friendship and trust-at-first-sight.
Friendship first, then business - is what they are looking for behind those gestures.
To help them find that, a good old firm shake is a good introduction.
The potential partner may not remember our first name, but a genuine handshake is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression and to create the entry for trust-at-first-sight.
Work on that.
The key to Latin America is understanding and adapting to their business culture, work culture and social culture.
The Simple Secret
...simple was how we started.
An old story tells of two shoe salesmen sent to Africa.
Soon after arriving, the first salesman sent a telegram home; 'Situation hopeless - no one wears shoes!'
Shortly after, the second salesman sent the message; 'Quick, send the shoes over - no one wears shoes!'
What one saw as a barrier, the other saw as an advantage.
In a fast changing world, your view of the challenge you face determines whether you will be the winner.
When we just started out in 2004, we had to answer questions from well-meaning friends and acquaintances that went something like this:
"Are you sure there is a market for the Spanish language here in Singapore? Latin America is so far away. And even if there was," they reasoned, "Singapore is too small a market."
Today, we have numerous local translation companies following our footsteps - giving greater emphasis in Latin America. No one would openly admit it of course, but our website has been a source of inspiration for numerous companies.
We're fine with that because we have a free flow of inspiration from above and a lot more in our arsenal to differentiate ourselves.
However, we do wish that the players in this industry can have vision and mission that is larger than just fattening the pockets. There'll be more creativity, more diversity and better services.
Like the second salesman - we actually saw a golden opportunity.
Who Am I
Hi, I am Jonathan Koh.
I am just an ordinary Singaporean like most people.
However, because of God's goodness, I have had the opportunity to live in Latin America while working on missionary projects.
I have lived in Chile from 1994 to 1998, in Guatemala in 2002, and finally in Brazil from 2012 to 2015.
For all the above, I was privileged to be doing church-planting.
Because of the trips, I acquired the passion of mastering the Spanish and the Portuguese language, sat for national language exams DELE (in Spain) and then CELPE (in Brazil).
I was instrumental in starting Bridge SA Pte Ltd in 2004.
From then on, I took on another passion - business development and, in particular, marketing, a subject that i did not do too well during my Pre-University days.
Building a translation business up from scratch to where it is today the past 16 years taught me some important lessons.
Well, I should deduct the recent three years that I was on mission in Brazil.
Business development and Marketing are areas I can help you with - whether you are thinking of boosting up your business locally or in Latin America.
Between 2003 and 2005, I was the Business Development cum Marketing manager for two local companies specialising in timber and charcoal respectively.
Between 2005 and 2006, I was also the Marketing Consultant for a division of Singapore Technologies where I travelled to various countries in Latin America meeting up decision makers of local telcos.