Vikram Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, was recently asked to break down the emerging markets that had contributed to strong financial results for the third-biggest US bank. The first country he pointed to was Mexico.
“We think that Mexico is extremely well-poised for growth,” Pandit said, “I was just there not too long ago and with the leadership change there in addition to prospects for reforms and what you are seeing on the ground—that is a high spot definitely.”
Even with the weak US recovery Mexico has boomed. The World Bank estimates gross domestic product growth of 4% for 2013.
However, if you are considering doing business in Mexico, the old saying of 'never confuse geographic proximity with cultural proximity' is probably never more true than when trying to compare Mexico with its larger neighbour the United States. Mexico is a country unique unto itself with a very distinct approach and business outlook compared to its neighbour. Below are some tips for doing business in Mexico.
10 Tips For Doing Business In Mexico
1. Personal Relationships
In Mexico, personal relationships are at the heart of most business dealings. There is a strong emphasis placed on the value of personal relationships within the business cycle. Mexico is definitely a country where relationships need to be firmly in place before significant business will ever develop. Take the time to cultivate strong, long-term relationships.
2. Deal With The Right People
Key decisions are made by a small number of individuals at the top of the hierarchy. Ensure that you are dealing with the right people.
3. Company Structures
Although the influence of foreign multi-national corporations cannot be ignored, most indigenous Mexican companies will be hierarchical in structure. Take the time to understand the structure of the company you are doing business with.
4. Sending The Right People
Make sure that you send people of the appropriate level of seniority to deal with Mexican business people. Do not insult people by sending junior colleagues to work with older, more senior Mexican business people.
5. Language Skills
English is widely spoken and many people speak it fluently. English is not, however, universally spoken and interpreters may be needed on occasion if you don't speak Spanish.
6. No Business Talk At Lunch
Lunch is taken quite late at around 2:00pm and can last for a couple of hours where business talk is not the major theme.
7. Breakfast Meetings Are Common
Breakfast meetings are common in Mexico and should be seen as an important part of the relationship building process.
8. Dress To Impress
It is important to be smartly dressed in both business and social situations, especially in Mexico City. Despite the heat, formal wear is the business norm.
Although it is important to be punctual to meetings, it is generally accepted that visitors will often be late through no fault of their own. Given the size of Mexico City, it is important to have a good idea of exactly where you are going and an estimate of travel time.
10. Emotion Is Not Taboo
Overt displays of emotion are not frowned upon - they show commitment and engagement.
Look Before You Leap
While the concept of engaging in business seems straight forward for an already familiar market, do not assume the same rules of engagement apply to every market.