From researching state legislation to having a scalable model, here’s an expansion guide on how to successfully establish your business in the States.
The US is a notoriously tough market to crack. Every year, entrepreneurs brave the leap across the Atlantic – with mixed results. For those looking to make their mark on America, there are many things that can catch you out or derail your growth plans. Having successfully expanded my business, Laundryheap, to the US in 2020, here are 5 things every entrepreneur should think through before they make the leap.
Do your market research properly
First and foremost, you need to figure out whether your business truly has a place in this market – you might want to expand to the US, but does the US want you? Get a thorough grip on your competition and conduct targeted research, preferably on the ground, to make sure you’re aware of how your sector operates differently in the American market. Identify key differences – from the cultural to the regulatory – to understand what your audience truly wants, how their behaviours might differ, and what changes this might necessitate in your business model.
For example, we spent a lot of time working out which areas of which cities were more reliant on laundrettes or communal laundry rooms in apartments, versus the areas where private washing machines were more commonplace. This allowed us to pinpoint the customer demand with some accuracy, which then shaped our hiring, marketing, and growth strategies accordingly. It’s this kind of local colour which can save you a lot of money when you first make the move.
Don’t sacrifice your core business values
It can be tempting to establish a name for yourself as soon as possible and go for growth at all costs. But avoid compromising your company’s values in order to cut costs or reach a mass market quickly. Your brand image needs to survive the journey overseas. Customers should have the same experience using the service whether they’re in London or New York, so make sure you’re protecting what they really value.
Make sure you have a scalable model
It wasn’t until we had optimised our processing facilities and delivery route models in the UK and Europe that we began looking into US expansion. This meant that we went in knowing we could maintain our 24-hour delivery guarantees and had the right processes to ensure we remained profitable, despite different market conditions.
If your domestic processes, such as recruitment, production, and transport are strong, well-tested, and can handle rapid growth, that’s your moment to take it to a new market.
Research local legislation and plan for the worst
Entrepreneurs will often overlook individual state legislation until it’s too late. Just when you think you’re making progress, you could suddenly be faced with a myriad of rules to contend with. This can prove to be a lengthy and expensive process – one that can quickly derail your expansion plans. From employment rights and healthcare, to taxes and corporation registration, make sure you’re completely knowledgeable across all details. Upfront planning will pay off hugely in the long run.
Don’t neglect your domestic team
Laying down business roots in the US can take a huge amount of time and energy. However, whilst you’re focusing on this, don’t forget about your teams in other locations. Make sure that they’re being supported, updated, and listened to. The last thing you want is a successful expansion to the States, followed by a decline in other markets because your eye was off the ball. If you’re ready to go State-side, make sure you’re also ready to manage a bigger remit across a much wider set of geographies, time zones, teams, and cultures.
Regardless of any experience you may have in the realms of business expansion, approach new territory with caution, and avoid celebrating until you’ve fully solidified your presence in the new market.