With the global reach of organizations, companies are closer and closer than ever before. It’s common for there to be multi-national organizations that send employees all over the world. It seems there’s always someone I know traveling for business.
Even if you’re a small business owner, the world is smaller than ever.
But what if you have to travel to do business in a Spanish speaking country? How will you be able to get through a business meeting or complete a major project?
Did you know that Spain’s growing economy is fueled mostly by tourism and exports?
Spanish is also widely spoken. If you read another previous article, you might not be surprised to learn that there are millions of Spanish speakers not only around the world, but in the US as well. You might be a local shop, but you can tap into an entirely brand new market just by learning Spanish. It’s a massive opportunity to grow and expand without a whole lot of effort.
While you might find that in business, a lot of people do speak English, if you attempt to speak in Spanish, you will probably earn a lot of respect, which may serve you well in the long run.
Top Business Phrases to Learn in Spanish
There are a lot of things to learn to do business in a Spanish-speaking country or even at home. This isn’t the be all end all list, however, these phrases are commonly used in meetings all over. These are general phrases, as industry specific phrases and vocabulary will follow.
You will be surprised that when it comes down to it, the act of doing business is pretty universal. There are negotiations, formalities, contracts, deals closing and sales happening. Imagine you’ve just landed in a country, where you don’t know the language and you’re dropped in the middle of a networking meeting. These are things you’ll encounter as you meet people, send out proposals, and most importantly, close deals.
Voy a pedirle a mi abogado que revise el contrato.
I’ll ask my attorney to review the contract.
¿Cuando nos podemos reunir?
When can we meet?
¿Tienes una tarjeta de visita?
Do you have a business card?
Envíame una propuesta.
Send me a proposal.
Usted necesita reunirse con _____. (formal) / Necesitas reunirte con ______. (informal)
You need to meet with ______.
Necesito hablar con mi socio de negocios.
I need to talk to my business partner.
¿Cómo acepta el pago?
How do you accept payment?
Bear in mind that some places hardly use checks or purchase orders. For example, in Spain, checks are a bit of a foreign concept. Here, most places use credit cards, bank transfers or cash.
¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de credito?
Can I pay with a credit card?
Estoy trabajando a tope.
I’m working hard.
Tengo una reunión con ______.
I have a meeting with______.
¿Ha encontrado un inversor?
Did you find an investor?
¿Cuál es la tasa de empleo en esta área?
What’s the employment rate in this area?
¿Cuáles son la economía y la demografía de esta zona?
What are the economy and demographics in this area?
¿Tenemos un acuerdo?
Do we have an agreement?
Estoy escribiendo para preguntar acerca de…
I’m writing to enquire about….
Consideramos su propuesta y hemos decidido...
We considered your proposal and we decided….
Aceptamos sus términos con los siguientes ajustes:
We accept your terms with the following adjustments:
Espero trabajar con usted.
I look forward to working with you.
Aquí está mi registro de gastos para este viaje.
Here is my expense log for this trip.
Again, these are general phrases that will help you meet people and close deals (that’s what it’s all about, right?).
Basic Business Vocabulary Words
If you’re spending time in the office and working on a major project, it will be very useful to have a basic business vocabulary. You’ll at least be able to ask what happened to your red stapler, even if no one else gets the joke.
Depending on where you are, oficina may be used or despacho. Most people will refer to oficina, although despacho tends to be used more when referring to home offices or a group of offices. For example, you can go to your law firm’s office (despacho) but an individual attorney has an oficina.
- El material de oficina
- Office supplies
- La grapadora
- La grapadora roja
- Red stapler
- La fotocopiadora
- El folio
If you just want a piece of paper, you’ll ask for “Uno folio, por favor.” If you wanted a stack of paper, say to restock the printer, you’d ask for “Una pila de papel.”
Now, if you’re looking for the newspaper, that’s a little different. While in English, we may say “Did you get the paper today?” In Spanish, you wouldn’t say did you get el folio today? You’d say “¿Recibió el periódico de hoy?”
- El bolígrafo
- El archivador
- Filing cabinet
- La carpeta
- File folder
- El lápiz
- Agenda de la reunión
- Meeting agenda
- La impresora
- El acuerdo
- El Desacuerdo
- Perder el tiempo
- To waste time
- Cuenta a pagar
- Accounts payable
- Cuenta por pagar
- Accounts receivable
This is only in the context of assets in possession. If you were to say this employee is an asset to the company.”, you’d say “Este empleado es un gran recurso para la empresa.”
This is in the context of financial liability. If you’re trying to refer to a legal liability, you’d refer to a responsabilidad.
- Capital, Equidad
- Beneficio bruto
- Gross profit
- Utilidad neto
- Junta Directiva
- Board of Directors
- Cámara de Comercio
- Chamber of Commerce
- Marca comercial
- Ética de trabajo
- Work ethic
- Día de pago
Spanish Vocabulary Words for Marketing & Advertising
No matter where you are, marketing can be a major force in your company or project. These are terms that you really have to know to understand what all is going on with your project and how it’s being pushed out to the public.
The Hispanic market is largely underserved by the advertising industry and the need for Spanish marketing campaigns grows. While more luxury brands have chosen to advertise or maintain their slogans in English, a well-written phrase in Spanish can go “straight for the heart."
If you find yourself sitting in on a marketing meeting, it might be helpful to know a few key words and phrases in Spanish so you’ll be much better prepared.
- Relaciones publicas
- Public relations
- Campaña de marketing
- Marketing campaign
- Marketing de medios sociales
- Social media marketing
- Presupuesto de marketing
- Marketing budget
- Mercadotecnia en motores de busqueda
- Search engine marketing
- Optimizacion para buscadores
- Search engine optimization
- Sito web
- Home page
Spanish Vocabulary Words for Aerospace
Aerospace and manufacturing are very competitive industries in Latin America and Spain.
The Spanish aerospace industry is the fifth in Europe in terms of net sales. In fact, Sevilla’s Aerópolis is home to 47 aerospace firms, including Airbus Defence and Space.
In Latin America, the industry is expected to grow, despite the political uncertainty.
That being said, there will be some important phrases to know if you’re heading up an aerospace project or happen to run into an aerospace engineer and want to ask questions about their work.
- Avión de transporte comercial
- Commercial transport planes
- Velocidad supersónica
- Supersonic speed
- Barrera del sonido
- Sound barrier
- Explosión sónica
- Sonic boom
- Avión de reacción
- Jet plane
- En matemáticas
- In mathematics
- ingenierio aeroespacial
- Aerospace engineer
Spanish Vocabulary Words for Exporting & Importing
Spanish speaking countries have a massive impact on the global food industry.
"The Latin American region is an important net exporter of food and agricultural commodities, accounting for 16% of total global food and agriculture exports and 4% of total food and agriculture imports."
Even in the United States, growth of Hispanic farmers has increased by 21% from 2007 – 2012.The need for a basic understanding of Spanish in this industry is growing, whether you’re in the US or abroad.
- Plow (n.)
- To plow (v.)
Spanish Vocabulary Words for Finance
After the banking crisis of 2007-2008, countries like Spain are finally starting to recover to pre-crisis levels. Even in Latin America, where there has been an economic slowdown, there are still plenty of opportunities for growth in financial services.
Here are a few key words to know for the financial industry. You’re still going to have to deal with basic financial language, whether you’re buying a home, getting auto insurance, or trying to obtain your credit report.
- Industria financiera
- Financial industry
- Tarifa ajustable, Tasa ajustable
- Adjustable rate
- Seguro de coche, seguro de auto
- Auto insurance
- Informe de credito
- Credit report
- Tasa de interes
- Interest rate
- Bienes raíces
- Real estate
- Bolsa de Valores
- Stock market
Know the Business Culture
As I mentioned in a previous article, it’s so important to know and understand the business customs before you leave. Days are much different than what you’re probably used to. You might be used to showing up at the office at 8am and powering though calls, meetings and emails before lunch. Then you go out for lunch and try to power through the afternoon, only to leave a bunch of work on the desk to be done the next day. You might even take home some work, too.
In a lot of other countries, the value system tends to be different. This is true in most Spanish speaking countries.
It’s not that they’re lazy, it’s just that they have different values. In the US, the values are focused more on productivity and what you do. In my experience in other countries, the values are more about who you are and what’s your family like.
It’s definitely different, and it might take some getting used to. Once you do adjust, you might have a whole new perspective on work and family.