Export to the US - Getting into the market

 

Because North America is such a vast and varied market, UK companies should start by making realistic, strategic decisions about where to focus their efforts, based on factors including the concentration of likely customers, suppliers and skilled staff.

If a UK business is establishing a base in North America – either the US or Canada - it is also worth taking into account where there are UK and other overseas business people from whom to learn and socialise with.

Generally, Americans are great people to deal with, but those from the UK doing business there often experience unexpected culture shock, underestimate the attitudinal and behavioural differences, and make poor business decisions as a result.

Founder and managing director of Resolve Gets Results, Chamber International’s partner for North America, Mark Ashton, says: “Running a business in the US can be a big shock to the system for British companies because the differences are so much greater than they expect.”

For UK companies, the US has low regulatory barriers, a strong rule of law, access to a global supply chain that is second to none and that we also we speak broadly the same language.

Without a language barrier, one would think it is business as usual when seeking to expand a UK business to the US but it is not always smooth sailing, especially if you try to go it alone.

Thorough market research and planning is essential to your success before you start selling goods or services in the US.  Working with a strong US partner is a competitive advantage throughout all phases of expansion planning, from initial market entry to future growth. The business and geographical intelligence a US partner can provide is a valuable asset and strongly encouraged.

There are cultural differences in how business is conducted in the US and being able to navigate the regional nuances, have familiarity with typical business practices and knowledge about regulations is very important.

Regulations vary from state-to-state and are not nationwide, so knowing the taxation, legal, insurance and licensing guidelines and implications are essential to avoid any missteps, which could affect your expansion budget should litigation costs be needed for remediation purposes, an unexpected expense that can be avoided.

The United States is also a nation of many religions and ethnic groups.  Therefore, diversity and tolerance is observed.  If you are doing business with someone of a specific religion you should recognise, understand and show respect for their traditions.

Americans make business decisions quickly and are direct in their approach, so it is important to be prepared and responsive, so they don’t lose interest.  On the plus side, they are always willing to give you a second chance, although it is not wise to operate on the back foot, especially when closing deal negotiations.

Business and pleasure often go hand-in-hand in the US.  It is commonplace to extend the business relationship to a social level, so they can get to know you better and build trust.

US businesses demand very high levels of customer service and rapid response.  They generally want to deal with Americans in your company, but they will also expect the top people from the UK to visit the US regularly.  

Americans are known for putting in long hours and doing what it takes to get the job done, whether that be from the office, telecommuting, or a combination of both.  They are hard workers.

North America is a fantastic market opportunity for UK companies and a minefield for the unwary.

Mark Ashton says: “The best things in the US are far better than the UK, but the worst things are far worse.  Make sure you do your homework fully and be prepared.”

 

Thinking of exporting to North America?  FREE 1-to-1 clinics with Resolve specialists in June, book now.

 

Contact us for further details and market enquiries.