For UK based businesses who are considering expanding internationally, there’s a great deal to think about. From familiarizing yourself with the rules and regulations that allow you to trade in another country, through to learning about the consumer market in the location you’ve chosen, there seems to be a never-ending list of things to research.
Here are a few key areas you must research thoroughly if you’re beginning to think about making the move across the pond…
How are you going to ‘establish ‘your business?
First and foremost, you need to know that expanding to the US isn’t as simple as just making some sales over there, or renting office space for your new American employees. Instead, you’ll need to research how to ‘establish’ your business. Some businesses simply open a branch office in the US, but this is rarely a good idea as it exposes your entire business to tax and liability.
Instead, businesses expanding to America tend to operate by creating a subsidiary – a separate legal entity, choosing to register it as an ‘S’ corporation or a ‘C’ corporation. You can find out more about this here, or consider talking to an international tax advisor or corporate attorney to help you.
Who are you going to work with?
Next, do some research on the professionals who can help you with your expansion. You’re (probably) not an expert on the way that taxation works in the US, nor an expert on the HR logistics of managing US employees’ payroll, 401(k) benefits, and health insurance.
So, seek the services of international tax advisors, attorneys and even third parties who can hire employees on your behalf to help you get a foothold in America while you expand to the US (you can’t legally hire a US employee until your subsidiary is formed, and even then, you may prefer to have experts hire employees for you).
Who are your customers going to be?
Then, do some research into who your customers are. As well as accounting for local culture, local payment services, business hours and other ‘practical’ considerations, you’ll need to research into whether or not your product will be well received in the USA. You will need to understand your customers well enough to persuade them to spend money with your business rather than with your US competitors, and you might need to do some research to evolve your product for an American audience.
How do you fit into the market?
Finally, conduct extensive market research. You’ll quickly find that the US is not a single homogenous market, but is instead a collection of markets spread across various states and industries. Examine how your industry is performing, look at who else is operating in your market, and explore who your competitors consider to be rivals. This will help you to see what kind of competition you’re up against, where you fit in, and whether or not there’s a ‘gap’ for you.
Most importantly of all, however, is that you remember not to try to do everything at once. There’s a great deal of research to undertake, and while it’s important to be quick (especially so if Brexit results in more UK businesses looking to trade with the USA), it’s better to pace yourself. Expand one step at a time and do thorough preparation every step of the way to improve your business’s chances of being successful when expanding to the US.