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    Tenerife Business » Useful Information » A Rough Guide to Doing Business in Tenerife
Updated: 08-07-2010

A Rough Guide to Doing Business in Tenerife

Even if your business is focused at foreigners and the tourist market, you will still come in contact with Tenerife’s business culture. Understanding some subtle differences in how we do business can put you ahead of the game.


Just as in Spain itself, there are a number of different business cultures on the island. There are companies from the mainland that (try to) maintain a modern style of management that you might find anywhere else in the world. In Tenerife, these are a tiny minority of the companies you will come in contact with.


Most are family businesses, which are run by a (hopefully) benign autocrat. These companies vary from some of the smallest to the largest enterprises in Tenerife. Indeed the island economy has often been described as a plutocracy with a few families at its head.


If you are to forge business relationships within the local community, you will need to cultivate contacts who are part of the decision making process. If you choose Spanish speaking intermediary, then you should take care to assess where they rank in the Tenerife hierarchy. The higher they are, the closer to the decision maker your representation will get.


Perhaps it is the macho culture, but hierarchy and social position play a major part in Tenerife’s social and business interactions. It would seem odd if you lavished lots of time on someone who might be your inferior in this pecking order.


In such a hierarchical business structure all decisions, even the small ones, will tend to be made by the boss. Doing business in Tenerife is quite a slow and frustrating affair. Tiers of management exist to make analysis and recommendation to the boss, but not a decision. You may find that you are repeating yourself as you are shunted from one manager to the next before you finally have a meeting with the Jefe. Although decisions may be made by the boss, family and colleagues are likely to have a strong influence on them. Although the many meetings may seem tedious and a waste of time, they are unavoidable if you want to do business in Tenerife - delays are often commonplace.


It is a great advantage to be able to speak Spanish, but not an insurmountable one. You should bring a translator with you if you are making a proposal to a local business to make sure that you are understood. Your potential clients will not want to lose face by admitting that they don’t understand you.


During a first meeting, you will need to sell yourself much more than your service or product. It is more likely that you will be talking about your family, your upbringing and your life in general. You need to be trusted, respected and above all liked, before you can start to do business at all but the most basic levels. Gut feeling and intuition tend to guide decisions and negotiations more than facts or evidence, so the key is to develop a strong rapport.

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