Business Expansion Checklist: 6 Tips to Land Softly in a New Market

You’ve built your business and done your homework and are now considering making the move to open in the U.S. market. You’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, foreign investments in establishing a new business in the U.S. in 2020 topped $1.9 billion. Investments from foreign-owned businesses expanding into the U.S. in 2020 reached $2.4 billion. See more in this infographic:

So, what will set those that make it apart? Consider the following most common expansion challenges and how you can address them early, before they impact your success. Use the following as your checklist to set your business up to thrive.

  1. Prepare to address language barriers. Communication is a priority for any business and language barriers will impact both productivity and employee satisfaction. According in SHRM data the annual cost of miscommunication for employees with 100 employees can be as high as $402,000. Ensure that your leadership team has strong English language skills when entering the U.S. market. It will increase employee engagement, improve employee retention and help your business achieve greater productivity, with less errors.
  2. Understand cultural differences. Cultural nuances can cause significant misalignment for a business. A good analogy is to consider the difference in the game of Football in the U.S. compared to other countries. You may assume you are talking about the same sport when you use the term, but depending on your cultural understanding of the sport the rules of the game, terms used, and even the equipment to play it are vastly different. This correlation can be applied easily across a business environment. Even though you believe you may be talking about the same thing, varying interpretations can cause significant business challenges and set your new entity off course.
  3. Ramp for in-market recruiting. Recruiting in the U.S. market is challenging and time consuming. According to Manpower, 69% of companies in the U.S. struggle to find top talent and SHRM reports that the hiring process can take an average of 36 days. As an international employer coming to the U.S. market, this will be even more challenging. Be prepared for this by using an in-market recruiting expert that understands the dynamics of the U.S. workforce and the expected benefits, compensation and policies U.S. employees expect. This will help your business avoid recruiting obstacles before they slow down your expansion plans.
  4. Structure to simplify global team management. Managing a business across borders takes structure, collaboration and engagement efforts that go beyond traditional “remote work” organizations. Considering time zones, language and cultural differences and the potential need for distributed teams, efficient team management for global organizations is imperative to your success. Be sure to have efficient collaboration tools in place and outline policies and expectations clearly so teams know what expectations they need to meet. Consider a leaner leadership structure for more efficient decision making and empower all team members to raise issues and suggestions for process improvement.
  5. Understand currency exchange rate fluctuations. This may seem obvious, but exchange rates float freely against one another and are in a constant state of change. Be sure to create contingency plans when the prices, for example of the goods you need for your business change in value, including raw materials and parts. Exchange rates will also impact your cash flow, investment performance, interest rates and even influence the job market and the real estate you need to house your business. Be sure to anticipate every factor when it comes to exchange rates and plan your investments and capital requirements accordingly.
  6. Build expertise in the nuances of foreign policies. Policies from country to country will also vary significantly. Tax, immigration, compliance, regulatory and employment policies will be distinct in not only the U.S. market, but may also differ from state to state. Be sure to do your homework carefully to know the requirements and regulations for the specific U.S. state in which you want to do business. Knowing all of the guidelines in advance can save you major barriers and headaches in the future. For this, it is wise to enlist an expert that can guide you though the nuanced details. This resource investment can pay of in dividends if critical mistakes are avoided.

Use this checklist to equip your business early with the best practices for opening your business in the U.S. market. If you have questions, UnniCo is here to help. We are experts in bringing solutions and businesses to and from international markets. Learn more here.