European companies open branches in the United States for a host of reasons. For starters, the US gives these businesses a completely new base of customers; a chance to step out from the almost saturated European market and stand out from the crowd. Secondly, there are many government incentives in the US, making the business environment incredibly favorable. Last but not least, it gives them more brand recognition and a chance to reinvent their products in a hungry, welcoming market.
Starting a business or moving an existing business from Europe to the US can, indeed, be an exciting time for an entrepreneur. However, that is not to mean that aren’t any thorny experiences and business-threatening challenges to contend with while there. Nevertheless, before commencing your business transition to the USA, you must be sure to acquire the necessary visa, so that you do not do anything illegally which might cause problems later on.
Apart from the UK-based businesses, those coming from other parts of Europe may have to hire a professional translation company to translate their content for localization purposes. That would mean higher initial and overall running costs. Besides that, here are some of the other challenges and experiences that European companies encounter when doing business in the US:
- Strong multicultural influence – The US is a country founded on the pillar of unity in diversity; there are too many ethnic groupings in the country, each with their own unique culture and needs, yet they all expect outsiders to see them as one inseparable people. The multiculturalism in this country is on another level; you will have to contend with it in government offices and in the business setup. How you handle the employees is also affected by this cultural influence as there are some historical injustices that plague the labor market up to today. That is not particularly the case in Europe as most countries in the region have a homogenous culture. Your success or failure might be tied on this seemingly inconsequential factor.
- Complexity in the taxing system – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)- revenue service of the United States federal government- is very strict with its enforcement of the federal taxes, sometimes to the point of scaring off investors who come from jurisdictions with lenient tax laws. And as if that is not enough, you will also have to deal with tax collection authorities both at the state and local levels. Even though the government is in the process of lowering the transition tax to about 8-15% and the corporate tax from 35% to 21%, there still are some vital teething issues that would demand a skeptical approach to America’s taxation framework.
- The financial sector’s influence – Wall Street, arguably the most influential financial sector in the world, is keener on short-term profits and high stock values and not the traditional long-term value opportunities. The hedge funds and investment firms on Wall Street have become so powerful that without their blessings, you may be forced to sacrifice your brand’s reputation just to impress them.
- High competition from multinational corporations – America is home to some of the biggest multinational corporations. While you will greatly benefit from their existence in terms of benchmarking on their success, sometimes the competition they bring forth can be unbeatable. To make matters worse, these corporations have political connections and friends in the highest places in the demand and supply chain, so they often get the lion’s share of government incentives. Most multinationals have their planning and thinking inclined to global markets which, apparently, greatly affect the nation’s job market. They will hire the best talents in the country and proceed to outsource and offshore manufacturing jobs to other countries overseas. That means that they will enjoy both the benefits of hiring cheap outsourced labor and highly-qualified American professionals. Also, competing with a country that outsources cheap manufacturing services can be a daunting task.
- Complicated electricity and construction rules – If you wish to acquire property in the US, probably your main offices, you will have to pass through more than 10 bureaucratic steps before you get the legal permits to register it under your company name. Environmental inspections and reviews, for example, can take weeks if not months. In big cities such as Los Angeles and New York, you may have to wait for more than 2 months to have your electricity turned on. And if you need additional constructions in the property, that can cost you anywhere between 3,000 to 6,000 USD $ in terms of building plan check and permit.