Why business is like ... German humour

The 18-minute-long British comedy Dinner for One is the most shown programme in TV history.

by Jennifer Harris, director of JRBH Strategy & Management,www.jrbh.co.uk
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Never heard of it? Nor have most people in Britain. But as the BBC show QI pointed out last month, if you ask any German or Scandinavian about the slapstick black-and-white sketch in which a dotty old lady hosts four imaginary friends for dinner, they will know exactly what you're talking about. Apparently, half the population of Germany watches it every New Year's Eve. But it is virtually unknown in the UK.

But just because it wasn't a hit here didn't stop it becoming a cult classic over there. Which makes you wonder how many businesses that failed in their home territory might have made it in another. Would wedding list service Wrapit or 'experience' business Red Letter Days have taken off somewhere else, even as they were flopping here?

Businesses that do succeed in the UK are notorious for their unsuccessful forays abroad - so why shouldn't the same be true in reverse? If a business that works well in one country and culture can fail in another (just look at what's happening to Brand Beckham and Tesco in the US), why shouldn't a business that fails over here be a big hit elsewhere? If your business is struggling, expanding overseas may sound rash, but Dinner for One might give you food for thought.

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