This should not be a secret but still we often see both North American and European companies confusing Miami with Latin America.This article will tell you a bit about the history of Miami as the gate to Latin America and why this is a bad idea.
Miami became the gateway to Latin America in the 70s as countries like Brazil were still controlled by the military and commercial flights between North and South America landed and departed either from Miami or New York.
With a large Hispanic population, Miami became a low risk strategy for foreign companies that wanted a piece of the Latin American market but not really wanted the challenges they would have to face in Latin America, a “Little Latam” within USA if you will.
Miami became a safe harbor for Latin American and foreign businesses in a time when shady businesses were the norm in Latin America.
The era is over for Miami
Although many businesses do not seem to understand, today you cannot do anything from Miami that you cannot do from Beijing.
While Brazilians argue whether São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro is the best for foreign business, I can guarantee you that they all agree that Miami is possibly the worst place to serve the Brazilian market.
Miami might still be an excellent choice for logistic companies that work with moving physical goods from North to South America, but it should be treated like that: a harbor, not a commercial or business center.
The new trend
An increasing amount of companies are currently on the move southwards from Miami to Brazil, specially to São Paulo. The problem that companies based in Miami see is that little or none of their businesses happen south from Colombia.
Failing to reach a dominant market like Brazil has to be considered a failure for any company with a Latin American strategy.
Business leaders nowadays understand the irrationality of opening an office to serve the Latin American market and then place it in North America. It is like opening your European office in New York.
The instinct and trends of business take time to change. Miami might actually get a new boost with Latin American companies that use it as a base for their North American market entry. This is an approach that makes much more sense, as Miami is located in North America after all.
Do not choose a distributor in Miami
It should be implicit to anybody reading this article: do not select a distributor or representation for your product or service based in Miami.
Time and time again we see foreign companies tricked into the idea that you can serve the entire Latin America from Miami. The companies fail to understand that business culture in Latin America is local and that presence is a crucial part of any lasting business relation in Brazil.
Doing business in Brazil today is not that complicated and starting an operation in Miami is only a complicating factor that should be avoided.
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