Launching your business in the USA: 7 tips from partner Edwin Hengstmengel

Blog 3 minutes read November 2023
7 tips by Edwin Hengstmengel

Launching a business internationally is both an exciting and intimidating task. While having a standout product is essential, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. Before considering a leap across borders, you need a clear product-market fit. Trying to expand without this certainty can make your journey more complicated. A successful international move demands that your team understands the product’s value proposition, is geared to face competition, and is aligned with the go-to-market plans.

“My colleague, Martijn Hamann, and I took it upon ourselves to venture into the US business landscape, touring major cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. We gathered valuable insights to navigate US market dynamics by engaging in conversations with American and Dutch entrepreneurs, attending sessions at renowned institutions like MIT and Harvard, and networking with industry peers,” says Edwin Hengstmengel.

You can check out their latest LinkedIn updates for a detailed trip journey. But for now, Edwin will share 7 critical takeaways to consider for businesses eyeing the US market:

1. Home success doesn’t guarantee US success

Achievements in your native market don’t automatically translate into success in the US. Given the US market’s competitive nature, I think it’s essential to plan thoroughly to maintain and build upon your home-based accomplishments.

2. Research your target market

US consumers have distinct behaviors compared to their European counterparts—even seemingly minor differences, like a preference for sweeter chocolates, matter. Also, consider regulations: what applies in the Netherlands, like GDPR, may not be relevant in the US. Comprehensive market research can illuminate these differences.

3. Factor in the financial implications

Operating in the US, especially in major cities, can be financially demanding. From hiring to renting office spaces, costs can escalate quickly. Some Dutch entrepreneurs shared that hiring a basic commercial lead can be expensive.

4. Brace for intense competition

Knowing who’s backing your competitors can provide a strategic advantage.

"The US business environment is ruthless. Beyond just product competition, be ready for challenges such as potential lawsuits, aggressive campaigns, and even confrontations on social media."

Edwin Hengstmengel - Partner

5. Foster a cohesive internal culture

Establishing a base in the US often means managing teams across continents. Integrating teams culturally and ensuring motivation, despite the distance, is paramount.  Annette van der Feltz, a Consultant in Cross-Cultural Communication Solutions and an expat, shared insights on this, stating that while the US values capability demonstration, in the Netherlands, the focus is on relationship-building.

6. Understand employment law variations

Employment law is an important topic. At-will employment in the US can be a benefit because no notice periods mean you can hire people quickly. By the same token, they can leave your company more easily. How can you bind them to your company without a contract? Can you give them shares or other long-term benefits, such as healthcare, to incentivize them to stay at your company?

7. Champion diversity

Embracing diversity is of paramount importance in the US. From crafting inclusive job descriptions to refining recruitment processes, ensuring a diverse workforce should be a priority. Consider how the job description might alienate certain people and look outside the typical places to hire your team. There are agencies for diversity recruitment in the US, such as the Black Working Women of America Association.

Are you ready to go to market?

Backed by Endeit Capital, we stand ready to assist businesses with a comprehensive ‘go to market’ plan for the US. We’ve covered it, from navigating visa requirements to adapting pitching styles.

My advice in a nutshell? Choose your focus wisely, adapt your strategy accordingly, and always be conscious of cultural differences.

Tamara Hartman

Endeit refers to the following statement in connection with the sustainable finance disclosure regulation (SFDR), available here.

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