Scotland – Your Next International Connection?

By Michael Jones (michael.jones@tsiglobalconsulting.com)

When I was a sophomore in college, I spent a summer studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Like many before me who visited this beautiful country, I absolutely fell in love with it: the history, culture, and people all came together to create an unforgettable experience.  One of the things that stuck out the most while I was there was how vibrant the whole country felt.  Unlike other places in Europe, where general malaise has set in as a result of the EU’s debt crisis, there was definitely noticeable energy and excitement about Scotland’s future that could be discerned from the people there.  One are that one can clearly see this energy in is business.  In recent years, Scotland has experienced GDP growth in several key sectors coupled with a decrease in unemployment.  With this positive growth in place, Scotland may be a good option for your next international connection.

A good comparison for how to look at Scotland is to see it as the “Texas of the north”.  Both used to be independent countries, have people who are fiercely independent and proud of their heritage, and don’t have the best histories with other parts of the countries that they are now a part of.  Also like Texas, Scotland is developing rapidly in a number of areas: Scotland has strong banking, construction, oil & gas, aerospace, and transport industries, as well as a number of unique exports to partner countries such as the U.S., France, and Germany.  Scotland’s GDP is $248 billion dollars (growth rate of .7%) and its GDP per capita of $46,000 is the highest in the U.K.  In recent years, its unemployment has decreased to 6.4% due to the continued expansion of service industries in major Scottish cities.  Additionally, Scotland has been voted “European Region of the Future” twice in the last 4 years, due to the business-friendly attitude that pervades Scottish government.

Of course, like any other region in the world, Scotland has a unique business culture with unique customs that anyone looking to expand into this country should be a ware of.  First of all, know that Scotland is not synonymous with the U.K.: as previously mentioned, the Scots are very independent (to the point of considering independence from the U.K itself) and proud of their heritage, and confusing them with the English or Welsh will not be taken kindly.  Additionally, one should respect unique Scottish cultural icons such as the kilt, and understand as much as they can about the history of animosity between the English and the Scots.  In general, Scots will be very open and loyal with your company, but establishing this relationship will take time.  Attempts to rush this process will likely be met with distrust.  Additionally, Scots place great value on personal space.  One should not attempt to make physical contact with your Scottish counterpart aside from a professional handshake.  Lastly, Scots do not like to draw attention to themselves in public.  A standard American speaking voice would be seen as too loud, so one should attempt to dial back their volume when speaking in public.

For the enterprising businessperson, there are definitely a lot of opportunities for international growth in Scotland.  Please contact TSI Global Consulting at 210-757-0618 for a consultation on how you can get your business there.  I know that I’ll be doing my best to go back soon!  Until then, slainte!

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