Business owners from the UK looking to break into overseas markets set their sights on the US because they believe we not only share a common language but have similar commercial cultures.
But it’s not just the way Americans and Brits pronounce Solanum Lycopersicum (that’s tomato to you and me) that sets us apart.
Many Americans are fiercely patriotic and attach strong importance to the Born in the USA tag. This may seem like a barrier to entry into this ultra-lucrative market for British businesses but they can tap into Americans’ desire to do business with a local company by establishing a virtual presence in almost every US city.
In the past, this would have involved going through all of the administrative and logistical hassle that comes with finding a new business premises, including researching appropriate neighbourhoods, finding potential locations and dealing with agents and paperwork.
But advances in telecommunications technology have opened up new US markets. A virtual New York phone number, for example, allows British-based businesses to provide their US customers with a local number that gives the impression they are calling an all-American operation based in the Big Apple.
However, calls to your virtual US number are actually routed to anywhere you choose, including your London office or even a UK mobile.
World’s largest economy
Offering a US presence in this way is a big step towards benefiting from the world’s largest national economy, which has an estimated GDP of $18.124 trillion.
However, to truly succeed in business on the other side of the Atlantic, it is important to recognise the differences in business culture between our two nations to properly respect your customers while maximising your chances of success.
The US, the world’s third largest country both in size and population, is a multicultural mosaic of 300 million people of mixed race and heritage. And American business culture takes some getting used to.
That’s because it’s based on the American Dream – the widespread belief that every individual can succeed and prosper financially by working hard. This idea contributes to a strong and competitive work ethic plus a heavy emphasis on individual initiative and achievement.
In stark contrast to countries such as Japan, one striking characteristic of US business culture is its informality. As an expression of the prevalent egalitarian notion in American culture, titles are seldom used in business environments and most US business partners will offer to use first names almost immediately.
Time is money
Americans use a very direct style in their business communication. The primary purpose of communication is to exchange information, facts and opinions. Typical phrases are “let’s get to the point” and “what’s the bottom line?” This is why the telephone is still a vital tool when it comes to doing business in the US – and a local number goes a long way to building trust with American consumers.
A phone call can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to conclude a business transaction and, for Americans, time is almost a tangible asset. Their central tenet is that time is money and wasting time is just as bad as wasting money.
Be punctual and to the point
When establishing your US business, face-to-face meetings may need to be arranged. Punctuality is an essential part of US business etiquette and lateness is considered disrespectful and rude.
Meetings start on the dot and are expected to proceed uninterruptedly. In line with the time-conscious behaviour of Americans, schedules are important and deadlines are strictly adhered to. In meetings and negotiations great emphasis is put on getting the best results in the quickest possible time. If you really want to annoy your US business partner, either be late for a meeting without calling in, or sit down and talk as if you have nothing else to do for the rest of the day.
Other behavioural practices, such as a firm handshake and a sincere disposition, provide the best opportunity to earn respect by giving it first.
To learn more about doing business in America, UK Trade and Investment is working with the US government to increase the competitiveness of British companies through overseas trade and investment.
UKTI is offering expertise and contacts through its extensive networks to encourage business growth to help companies succeed in the global economy. But when considering the logistical challenges, you might be wondering why you should expand to the US? Because it’s America, baby!
For more information about establishing a virtual landline in the American city of your choice, contact Telephone Number Solutions today. While we are always happy to receive email enquiries, we think it’s good to talk so call us on 0333 130 7651.