How Learning A New Language Can Help Your Startup
It seems that in the startup world, everyone is telling each other to learn a new programming language, but most startup entrepreneurs seem to forget the fact that learning a new speaking language is just as important. Communication is one of the most powerful skill anyone can possess in this world. If this world were to collapse today, language might be our only hope in terms of survival and communication. But, why learn a new language when you can just learn another programming language or marketing?
Learning A New Language
Learning a new language has a lot of benefits for your startup. For example, China has one of the biggest markets in the world right now. This isn’t just in the trading or business field, but China has an extremely strong growing technology area as well. Check out our articles that talks about the battle that’s happening between the Chinese Tech Giants. A lot of startups are expanding to China. Uber for example made a big leap to China. Linkedin was actively looking for a manager to run their China office a month ago.
The fact is that China’s market is hard to understand or any foreign country’s market is hard to understand. The best way to understand any new market is to learn the language and actually step foot in the country. This is why it is important to learn the language. It would be kind of rude to communicate with a potential partner in English when their native language is Chinese. Learn their language and along with that you will learn their culture. Build the trust and this will help your startup close deals a lot faster.
For example, I have a friend who is a marketing manager for a startup. He wasn’t necessary qualified for the position, but he had superb language skills. Because of that, the startup hired him to be their marketing manager. The startup needed someone that not only could communicate with the external communities but needed someone to help expand their startup to a foreign country. Learning a new language is considered a lifetime of new rewards.
Communicating Directly With The Community
A lot of big companies hire bilingual people because they can afford to do so. If you’re on a startup shoestring budget, you might not have the resources to hire experienced bilingual talents. If you do not have someone on your team that can speak another language, your startup is missing out on a lot of opportunities.
For example, if you’re running a SaaS startup and someone from the Hispanic community with limited English is interested in using your product, but you don’t have a Spanish speaking individual on your team, then your startup just missed out on an opportunity. Foreign communities tend to stick together. What I mean by that is that word can spread like fire within the community. Say for example you created a CRM software and you were able to have a Chinese influencer use your product. If the Chinese influencer likes your product, chances are that he will tell all his Chinese friends about it and they will start using your product as well.
The problem with that is that if you do not have a Chinese support in your team, you could be running into a lot of issues. Of course if you have the resources, you could always hire a Chinese support person or even a Chinese salesmen, but it would be much better if you could understand their feedbacks yourself.
Dedication Needed For Learning A New Language
Learning a new language takes a lot of time and dedication. I’m not a language pro myself, but I was able to self teach myself Cantonese, Mandarin and a little bit of Japanese. Similar to programming, once you learn one new language on your own, it is much easier to catch onto other new language. There are a lot of similarities within languages.
Remember how they always say that a startup business/idea guy should learn the basic of programming so that you can understand what is going on. Same with a new language, learn the basics of it. You will need to spend about 1-2 hours daily on learning a new language and it will take about 2-3 months for you to get all the basic down. After knowing the basics, you should be able to understand and at the minimum be able to communicate with the community.
The most effective language to learn nowadays for startup is Chinese. I believe that China is going to be the future with a huge growing market. As mentioned above, a lot of startup is making the move to China. Jumei for example was a startup that was created by a few students in America. Jumei’s founders decided to take their talents to China because of the big ecommerce market there.
Kevin O Leary from the famous Shark Tank show, said in an interview that if he were to do it all from scratch again, he would finish his degree and buy a ticket directly to China. He also mentioned that he wants all his kids to learn Mandarin because the big money is in China. Interview video here:
In addition, China has a huge Venture Capitalist market right now. We hear about top VC firms in the Silicon Valley such as Accel Partners quite often, but there are actually a lot of growing VC and Angel firms in China. Hanhai investments is a firm that specializes in helping startups enter China’s big market. To get investments from these firms, you really have to be there and learn the language/culture.
The second best language to learn for a startup is probably Spanish. Spanish is one of the world’s top speaking language and a lot of Hispanic people are involved in technology and startups as well. Learning Spanish for an English speaking individual might be easier than learning any other new language. Again, all of this takes time and dedication, but it can be done. Having the ability to speak and understand a new language is huge on your resume as well.