If you are the proud owner of a startup company in the EU, you may be considering a move to the United States. The U.S. offers a host of benefits for startup companies, from an embedded consumer culture and a populace primed to buy, to venture capitalists with money to invest. But while moving across the ocean can be a great way to grow your business, making the shift is not easy. If you want to be successful, you will need to prepare carefully, assess your options and choose the right destination.
Get to know the area as much as possible.
The United States is a huge place compared to the EU, with geographical differences, unique cultural centers and distinct approaches to business. If your startup is in the tech area, you probably have your sights on Silicon Valley. If your startup is involved in biomedical research, the famous Research Triangle of North Carolina is a natural fit. No matter where you plan to set up shop, you will want to get to know the area as much as possible.
That means researching the demographics of the region, including the average annual income of the inhabitants, the educational background of the potential pool of workers and the overall culture. You can do a lot of that research remotely through the Internet, but at some point you will want to pay the area a visit. In fact, it is a good idea to visit your target location at least three or four times before making the move. It can be hard to get to know an area with just one or two trips, and the repeated exposure will give you a better feel for what to expect when you arrive and start doing business.
Talk to business leaders on every visit, including people inside and outside your area of expertise. The goal is to learn as much as you can, not only about the area but about the people you will be working with.
Research the local advertising methods.
You will also need to research the advertising methods most likely to get results in the United States. The cultural differences between the EU and the U.S. are significant, and this is reflected in the advertising. Spend some time, both at home and on your research trips, looking at ads for products similar to yours. You will quickly get a feel for what successful companies are doing, and you can use their success as a model for your own advertising campaigns.
Once you have a timeline for your business move, you can start running ads to let the local populace know your EU-based product will soon be available in the U.S. There is a great hunger among the U.S. populace for European and other imported goods, so you might find a more eager market than you are expecting.
If you are planning to relocate in Silicon Valley, you will want to reach out to the local tech press. This is a smart strategy if your product is in the tech field – local and national tech magazines are always looking for information on new products, including European imports. You can get some great advertising this way, for a fraction of the cost of a full-on marketing campaign.
Reach out to other immigrant founders.
No matter what the nature of your product or where you plan to set up shop in the U.S., reaching out to other immigrant founders is always a smart move. Many cities have whole neighborhoods of European immigrants, so finding other immigrant business owners may not be as hard as you think.
Again, you can do a lot of the legwork while still in the EU. Tools like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to connect with virtually any demographic, while tools like Facetime and Skype make it easy to communicate, share ideas and get tips for your own move to the U.S.
Connecting with other startups within your space can be particularly helpful. Building a network of entrepreneurs with similar interests will give you a host of resources and make all aspects of the move easier.
When it is time to actually make the move, you will need to prepare carefully and make some tough decisions. One of the biggest decisions concerns the team you have built for your company in the EU. Will you be bringing the entire team with you to the United States or do you plan to hire local workers once the move is complete? Will you leave a skeleton crew at home to run things in the EU or will you make a clean break and operate only in the U.S.? The time to answer these critical questions is now, well in advance of the move.
Each approach has its own benefits and drawbacks, and there is no one right answer for everyone. You will need to assess your own business and decide which decision is right for you.
If you believe you need assistance with the relocation process and the managing of a successful corporation, you can always contact Inc. Plan(USA) for a free 30 minute consultation or you can check out our other blog posts.