5 Easy Ways to Think & Act Globally

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There’s no doubt that global business is the shape of the future. We live in a world where nearly all high-growth companies work across multiple time zones and in diverse cultural contexts. But the truth is that even experienced business leaders can sometimes get caught up in the small contextual differences of working across different regions and cultures. The solution: paying attention to little details that can ensure potential business deals – and new professional relationships – go smoothly.

Consider adopting the below tips to make next year’s global ventures your most successful yet.

1)   When speaking about the particular way something’s done in business, add “…in this country or in country X” at the end of your sentence. This will help remind you and others that it may not work the same way in other countries, and could, in fact, function quite differently. This will also let your colleagues from other countries know you’re aware that their experiences, assumptions and values might differ from your own.

2)   Remember to set the right time zones in your calendar. Also consider alternating meetings times to make it convenient for all attendees. Having a meeting at three in the morning might not be ideal for you, but neither is making your colleagues in different parts of the world stay late at the office. (Sometimes it’s the 1 or 2 hour time zone differences that cause the most confusion!)

3)   If you’re working in a new, specific, region of the world, get online and memorize five facts about that country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be seen as credible. And by showing an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect and show genuine interest in your new associates.

4)   Make a resolution when traveling to global locations that you’ll act like an anthropologist and discover new places, people and things. Don’t just rely on tourism books; ask locals to show you around and view sight-seeing as an opportunity to support your business dealings. Just like a real anthropologist would, pay attention to the local communication style and values, the holidays people celebrate and why. You’ll develop deeper relationships with your business contacts and acquire a more nuanced understanding of their backgrounds.

5)   Seek out global news sources, read books set in other countries, and watch international films. Most importantly, share your experiences with family, friends and co-workers. It will get them excited to learn more about the world. People exposed to distant cultures and new ideas tend to appreciate the importance of a global mindset.

6) Ensure everyone contributes to meetings by adopting communication best practices that account for different styles, personalities and cultures. Some like to talk a lot, others not so much, but everyone wants to feel their opinion is valued.

7) Study cross cultural theory to teach yourself about cultural diversity. There are four main cultural dimensions that I propose in my book, that cause the most difficulties in multicultural teamwork. To see my convenient tool, the 4D Culture Model, check out my book, The New Global Manager.

These tips may sound simple, but I promise they will go a long way toward helping you foster positive and lasting professional relationships in global environments. Finally, remember that developing global mindset isn’t only a business benefit; the growth and enrichment that comes with cross-cultural experiences can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally.

Global Mindset Provides Competitive Advantage

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Research proves the rapidly-rising importance of the Global Mindset.

A Global Mindset is critical for success in business and success as a leader and is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today. One skill that applies across every industry and every marketplace. How do you, as a leader, and your organization rank in mastery of the Global Mindset? Do you know?

Mastery of the Global Mindset.

I’ve talked about this before. Data from the GMI Index study, research published by CultureWizard in December 2017 shows mastery of a Global Mindset drives competitive advantage in business. Among the most important findings from the GMI Index Study, are three, which underscore the rapidly-rising importance of intercultural skills:

  • More than 82 percent of respondents rated the international component of their companies’ business as “extremely significant.”
  • Nearly half (45 percent) spend more than half their time on international business activity.
  • Almost one-quarter (24 percent) spend more than 75 percent of their work time on global endeavors.

“The Global Mindset Index (GMI) demonstrates that companies which actively support their employees gaining a Global Mindset are far more likely to achieve their business objectives than those that don’t. With almost 1,400 participants representing global enterprises from every region of the world, the respondents indicated that their work involved significant interaction with others in the global arena,” writes Charlene Solomon, of CultureWizard.

What is Global Mindset?

According to the GMI Index Study, Global Mindset is defined as  “the ability to recognize and reflexively adjust to cultural signals so that your effectiveness is not compromised when dealing with people from different backgrounds.” According to Dr. Mansour Javidan, Garvin Distinguished Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, essential elements of a Global Mindset include:

•   Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitan outlook

•   Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, a quest for adventure, self-assurance

•   Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, diplomacy

“Leaders who have a high level of Global Mindset are more likely to succeed in working with people from other cultures, he writes, in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works,” he continues.

Of course, it’s important to point out that mindsets can apply to both individuals and organizations. Leaders who possess a Global Mindset can, and do, encourage their teams to adopt a Global Mindset. Companies that embrace Global Mindset tend to promote those employees who demonstrate mastery.

As the GMI Index Study points out, the same organizations are twice as likely to have highly motivated multicultural teams and tend to experience fewer of the cultural missteps, which can damage productivity and business relationships. In these instances, the company, and its stakeholders benefit from the adoption of the Global Mindset.

Globally-minded businesses have a competitive advantage over companies with a more narrow focus. These firms can develop products and services that meet the needs of customers and prospects located across the world. But competing in a global marketplace is only one of the reasons adopting the Global Mindset is so crucial today.

An organization that embraces Global Mindset can identify emerging opportunities earlier than its competitors. It benefits from having a more sophisticated understanding of the tradeoffs between global standardization and local adaption, faster and more effective new product introductions, and facilitates sharing best practices and activities across cultural boundaries.

The Global Mindset Inventory (GMI)

At this point, you may be wondering how to move forward in mastering the Global Mindset–for yourself as the leader, and for your team or organization. I work with clients located in countries across the globe. I recommend, and use, the Global Mindset Inventory, which is a psychometric assessment tool that measures and predicts performance in global leadership. Developed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Global Mindset Inventory is a web-based survey consisting of seventy-six questions that measure your Global Mindset in three capitals and nine competencies.

After you take the GMI assessment, you will receive a scored report, documentation with feedback, and recommendations and suggestions to improve your Global Mindset. You can use the GMI tool for yourself as an individual and for your staff. You can also bring in a consultant to conduct a workshop to help you and your colleagues identify ways to master the Global Mindset.

As I have said in the past, the Global Mindset isn’t just about cross-cultural communication. It’s about understanding not only who, but also what and how to do business successfully across all borders, regions, and perspectives. And given the state of our world today and its burgeoning global marketplace, mastering the Global Mindset is not only vital–it is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today and in the days to come.

Contact me for more information about mastering the Global Mindset. And join my online global leadership community for valuable tips and training on conducting business internationally.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: Simone Busatto on Unsplash

Cultivate a Global Mindset For a Better Bottom Line

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The face of business has changed. You may have employees working globally, doing business with people from other regions or countries, or you might be relocating executives across cultures. The fact is, the global industry is the new norm. And your team needs to cultivate a “global mindset.” In today’s global marketplace it is critical for people to efficiently work together across borders and time zones to achieve business success.

Even more, we have a moral and ethical business obligation to be savvy about how the world works. By this I mean we need to be aware of the nuances of political systems, cultural norms, and the psychological mindsets of those whom we do business with and for. Without this savviness, we can’t truly understand the world and what it needs to run successfully.

Still, studies show many leadership programs fail at preparing future leaders with the skills needed to excel in today’s global business world.

What are these programs lacking?

The tools necessary for employees and organizations to cultivate a global mindset. A global mindset describes one that has a genuine desire, knowledge, and the skills to operate effectively in business today. One needs to know how to negotiate with vendors, sell to customers, and lead productive teamwork across regions – often in multiple countries at the same time.

This is just as important as legal counsel, marketing, sales, or a business strategy. Cultivating a global mindset shouldn’t be optional, as it fills a strategic, tactical need of operating in today’s global business. It is just as important as other business operations.

The number one agenda item

The number one agenda item for today’s corporate leaders looking to sustain business success should be finding talent with a global mindset. The team that cultivates a global mindset will be able to:

• Assess new markets

• Understand customer behavior

• Negotiate with vendors

• Secure contracts and commitment

• Navigate cultural nuances

• Build long-term business relationships

• Run complex projects

• Manage high-performing teams

Start cultivating a global mindset with these four tips

1. Get off your computer and get on a plane. As much as we might like to believe that the internet makes experiences like “study abroad” unnecessary, this kind of enriching experience is invaluable for understanding how cultural differences shape business and purchasing decisions. Opening your own mind to the differences among cultures will help you comprehend the kinds of perspectives you might encounter in global expansion, international sales negotiations, or hiring discussions for a new regional vice president.

2. Cultivate a global mindset at every level of the business. While making it a priority starts with upper management, executive staff aren’t the only people involved in implementing a global mindset across a company. Personnel in human resources, public relations, and corporate communications support those executive leaders. Making global mindset a priority for the entire staff, not just those who often travel internationally, will ensure both every day and long-term business actions are sensitive to the needs of other cultures.

3. Play memory. If you’re working in a new region of the world, do some research online and memorize five facts about the country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be credible. And by making an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect by showing genuine interest in your new associates.

4. Share your experiences. When you travel, read global news and books, or watch international films, and share your experiences. By sharing your experience with friends, families, and co-workers, you plant the seeds of a global mindset within them. Create excitement about learning about the world.

Ready to go global?

Are you—and your employees—ready to go global? You can find out by taking the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI) assessment. The GMI measures Intellectual, Psychological, and Social Capital to reveal both strengths and areas to develop. GMI also coaches individual assessment-takers to interpret their results and create a plan of action. Learn more about the GMI assessment here.

Cultivating global mindset isn’t only a business benefit; the growth and enrichment that comes with cross-cultural experiences can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally. But if your team needs help with global business skills, contact me. I can help.

A version of this post was first published on Lead Change Group 

Image: Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

Five Friday Highlights: Siestas, Expats, and Global Expectations

Global Expectations

If you have ever established residence in a country other than your own, you know that settling in involves so much more than unpacking. In today’s highlights, insight into life in Vietnam for an expat as well as issues that in one way or another reflect changing economies and customs in several countries.

When you think of Spain, do you envision businesses closing for lengthy afternoon siestas? Siestas have actually been in decline for a decade but businesses in Spain are grappling with ways to empower their employees to use their time effectively while also handling child care and other work/life balance issues (childcare can be scarce in Spain). Learn more from the Harvard Business Review’s piece, Don’t Call it a Siesta – What Spain’s New Work Hours Really Mean.

Even if you never cross the border of your own country, you are almost certain to communicate electronically with other cultures. As Bridging the Cross-Cultural Gap Through Email Etiquette explains, cultural differences need to be bridged in email just as much as they do in person. It shares four strategies for more effectively communicating across culture via email.

Get a glimpse into one of the parts of the expat puzzle (childcare) in The Cost of Motherhood for an Ex-Pat in Vietnam. Diana Metzger, whose family moved to Vietnam from the US in connection with her husband’s position with a Dutch NGO, discusses how the Vietnamese view her as a working mother, healthcare, consumerism, and the cost of living (baby formula, for example, is imported and prices can reach $65 for one canister.)

How China Can Avoid the Middle Income Trap explores the difficult choices China faces as growth slows. The author explains why some people in China see reason for optimism yet others have “serious reasons for concern; environmental degradation, corruption, high debt levels, to name just a few. Unless China can address its governance challenge, I fear that the pessimists will prove right. Issues of governmental authority will drive the direction of China’s economic trajectory.”

If you are an American who has traveled abroad, you may have been surprised at how your home country was perceived. Research what other countries tell their citizens about what to expect in the US, and you may see a different “US” than the one you call home. UK issues travel warning about anti-LGBT laws in U.S. states is one example.

What would you tell a visitor to your home country? Email me by clicking here to let me know!

Image Credit: 123rf/Timur Arbaev

Five Friday Highlights: Assumptions and Infrastructure

Global Highlights

In this week’s highlights, we look at assumptions people make about how things are going to be, a situation which can be especially challenging for those working in new countries. We talk a bit about infrastructure, and take a sip from a popular German beverage!

The “light work week” is commonly referred to in discussions of France’s labor climate. Currently, the work week is legally capped at 35 hours. In Working Nine to Four from The Economist, factors contributing to possible changes to this standard are discussed. As the article notes, “for much of the left, the 35-hour week remains not only a badge of progress but the mark of a preference: for shorter hours, more holidays and higher productivity” (the article goes on to point out that France has a higher productivity rate than Britain and Germany). Perhaps the French are struggling to let go of an assumption that the 35-hour week would have more permanence.

In global business, assumptions can provide false reassurance or create unnecessary reservations. {TWEET THIS}

As China Daily notes in China Has the Jobs, Now it Must Promote Them, China has no shortage of jobs for foreign workers. The article quotes Mary Wadsworth Darby as saying, she “believes China is already equipped with everything foreign workers would want, and now it is up to employers to educate their potential employees on what they can offer.” Interestingly, the article discusses how Chinese businesses need to understand expectations American workers have of being able to leave work to spend time with their families, an assumption an American worker could easily take to China only to be surprised when it is not met.

Infrastructure makes a huge difference in the ability to conduct business in a country, for obvious reasons. When I read Africa’s Telecoms Infrastructure: 2015 at a Glance from the itublog, I was reminded why it matters for organizations to plug away at creating infrastructure long before an established need exists. As the author notes, “The real impact of technological innovation is often not felt until long after market introduction – particularly in emerging markets.”

Equal opportunity for each gender matters. This is always a work in progress in Latin America. Women face conditions outlined by Technoserve in Helping Women Build Better Businesses in Latin America, such as “accessing finance without legal ownership or a guarantee” and  “joining traditionally male-dominated business networks.” Technoserve’s business accelerator program serves women in these countries, and was always cognizant that they “had to engage and convince business owners of the necessity of including a gendered lens in their business decisions.”

Lastly, to end on a light note and give you a “taste” of a culturally unique product, enjoy this article from the Wall Street Journal about Spezi, a popular mix of cola and citrus soda. Although an American quoted in the article characterized it as “carbonated swamp juice,” it is a hit in Germany, and some bottlers plan to expand to France and Britain. Brewer Sebastian Priller said, “It gives you the feeling of a Bavarian holiday without the alcohol.” Would you give Spezi a try?

What have you read this week that made you think differently or crave the taste of a different country? Drop me a line at melissa@lamsonconsulting.com and let me know!

Five Global Highlights: Connections Are Alive and Well

Global Highlights

What exactly does the word “connected” mean? We often feel connected by our devices, which can display events a world away in real time. At the same time, it easy to feel isolated as we struggle to keep up with a world which is rapidly evolving.

These five pieces touch on various concepts about connection. I hope they help you feel more “in touch” with the world around you!

These Ten Countries are the Most Globally Connected from Bloomberg Business states that “reports of the death of globalization are premature.” From my perspective, traveling around the globe and hearing the experiences of people in many different countries, “dead” is hardly how I would define global efforts!

“Dead” is hardly how I would define global efforts! {TWEET THIS}

Here’s an interesting connection development! In China and Britain face rare opportunity of economic and trade cooperation, minister says from New China, a look at the possibilities brought about from recent China-UK trade gatherings. Ten accords of cooperation involving fields such as finance, food, auto parts and medicine were signed. Talk about the possibilities of global relationships!

Let’s go all the way Down Under to Australia for a story! I caught this recent Australian news story about Garry Ridge, an Australian who is CEO of WD-40, an extremely common lubricant spray used in homes and garages all over the world! When I dug deeper, I became quite intrigued with Mr. Ridge’s philosophies around maintaining a globally engaged workforce. In this case study, he discusses strategies such as “an assurance to his employees that he will address each of their grievances within 24 hours.”

In Too Many Hairdressers and Not Enough Bricklayers? from the Edinburgh Business School, a look at the mismatch between the supply of and demand for houses which has caused some serious problems in the UK. I am always interested in a country’s housing supply trends; they can be a barometer for so many quality of life issues.

Creativity abounds in Africa, in so many business arenas. This story from CNN about Africa’s first Spotify-like digital music service caught my eye. As the article mentions, “Africa’s music scene has recently started attracting attention from global giants.” What better way to keep profits local while making music global than taking control of the business end? The service, MusikBi, “lists about 600 songs from a diverse group of artists, including internationally renowned musicians like Coumba Gawlo Seck and Duggy Tee, one of Africa’s most famous hip hop stars.”

Is there a global connection I can help you learn more about? Please email me at melissa (at) lamsonconsulting.com to discuss!

5 Tips to Make Global Travel a Breeze

Global Travel

It’s no secret that I’m a globe trotter. And, while jet-setting around the world I’ve learned a few secrets of how to get around like a local yet keep myself feeling well — no matter the time zone.

It didn’t come easily, mind you. I’ve gotten turned around more times than I can count, lost things in translation, and couldn’t resist the anti-jetlag power nap that ultimately turned into a 5-hour deep slumber, leaving me groggy. It’s all been worth it though because I love my work, and I love learning about new cultures and exploring new countries.

But, my hope is that you don’t make some of the mistakes I have. So, here are five tricks of the travel trade.

1. Beat jetlag. After 25 years of travel, I think I have the secret formula to beat jet lag. First, pack a sleep kit to help you rest on the plane. That can include ear plugs, pillow, light blanket, and an eye mask. Next, resist over-indulgence on food and alcohol. Better yet, skip the alcohol. Get fresh air and exercise when you land. And, finally, don’t fall into the “power nap” trap. Try, try, try to get onto the local schedule. For more tips, visit here.
2. Snap photos. Sure, for the memories. But also to remember where you came from and where you are going. Take photos with your phone of the metro stops so you know where to exit and get back on. Take a photo of your hotel, or grab a business card, so you know the address.
3. Maximize Google. Speaking of that business card—it can be key in making sure the non-English speaking cab driver knows where to take you. So can Google Translator. Be sure to bring a device that has WiFi (almost everywhere has it now) so you can tap into Google Translator to help give directions or express your wishes of where to go and what to see. (Recently, on a trip to Argentina, I did this along with showing the driver my GPS so that we arrived at the correct location.)
4. Befriend concierges. And not just your hotel’s. On that same trip in Argentina, when we couldn’t find a restaurant, we ducked into a hotel and asked the concierge. They almost always speak English (for good or for bad, it’s still the primary global business language) and are happy to help. We got great guidance and had no trouble finding our destination.
5. Keep it clean. It’s pretty terrible to be sick—not to mention being sick in an international destination. Bring wipes with you and sanitize your environment. I have no shame in wiping down airplane seats, hotel room door handles, remote controls, and any surface that I am unsure of. Take vitamins and supplements. I rely on COLD-FX and Traumeel. For more on tips to stay healthy while (at home or) abroad, click here.

Traveling doesn’t have to be a grind. With the right tools at your disposal, you can bring home the reassurance of a job well done or an adventurous story rather than your plane seat neighbor’s cold. Bon voyage!

Traveling doesn’t have to be a grind. Pack the right tools, and you’ll return home w/ the reassurance of a job well done! {TWEET THIS}

Image Credit: Fotolia (Maxim_Kazmin)

5 Ways to be a Better Global Leader in 2016

Global business is rapidly becoming the new norm, yet leadership is not keeping pace with this growth. One study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity actually found that global leadership development efforts have declined in a time when organizations are increasingly working with global partners.

The ability to successfully manage a business across borders where there are different societal, cultural, political, economic, and legal norms and systems cannot be overstated. Without it, you and your organization are destined to fall behind.

But even if you don’t have a program in place to develop global leadership skills, there are actions you can take right now to help you and your leaders successfully navigate in multiple environments to achieve your organization’s goals.

Here 5 ways to be an effective global leader in 2016:

Live and travel abroad. Leaders need to experience what it’s like to live and exist in another country. As noted in the Harvard Business Review, this experience will help them appreciate cultural differences, incorporate what they learn into their work lives, and build networks of global relationships. The best global leaders are those that are comfortable in different cultures and understand the nuances of doing business outside their home country. Not to mention, living abroad, and seeing and experiencing new and different things can lead to a more fulfilling and enriched life.

Have an open mind. Global leaders have the ability to accept that a particular situation may not be like anything they’re familiar with. They recognize that what works well in one culture could be unintentionally alienating in another, causing a rift between a manager and his or her team. They adapt their approach to specific dynamics and are able to mirror the shifting standards of multiple regions. This style of leadership is also known as Situational Leadership. For more about this approach, view my blog post on Situational Leadership.

Be inquisitive. The best global leaders are curious about anything and everything new and different. They ask questions of their teams, customers, clients, and partners and put aside opinions and criticisms. They’re eager to learn, and listen more than they talk.

Be flexible. The global business world is comprised of varying perspectives and ambiguity.
A global leader is comfortable with this and is responsive to true differences in problem-solving among countries. They have the ability to learn from mistakes and to balance shorter and longer term objectives.

Be self-aware. Effective global leaders know their management style and how it might be received by different cultures. For example, most of us have experienced both the micromanaging boss and the hands-off boss. In some cultures, teams will expect a manager to keep a tight rein and will feel abandoned by a boss who allows more independence. Other cultures are the opposite. Other differences to be aware include how decisions are made, how recognition is given, how feedback is given and how time is viewed. For more on this, visit here.

As businesses continue to expand and wrap around the globe, the gulf of truly developed leaders widens. Today’s successful businesses need managers who can think, act and lead globally. Are your leaders and your organization prepared?

5 Ways to More Global Business Success in 2016

Global Business

A commodity crash. ISIS threats. Last year was not a smooth one for global markets. Despite all these bumps in the road, world business expanded 3.1 percent. This year, it will grow even more—up to 3.6 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook. There’s no doubt that global business is the new norm. We live in a world where nearly all high-growth companies work across multiple time zones and in diverse cultural contexts.

But the truth is that even experienced business leaders can sometimes get caught up in the small contextual differences of working across different regions and cultures. The solution? Paying attention to little details that can ensure potential business deals— and new professional relationships—go smoothly.

Here are 5 easy ways to help make this year’s global ventures your most successful yet.

Be aware. When speaking about the particular way something’s done in business, add “…in this country or in country X” at the end of your sentence. This will help remind you and others that it may not work the same way in other countries, and could, in fact, function quite differently. This will also let your colleagues from other countries know you’re aware that their experiences, assumptions and values might differ from your own.

Set your clocks. Remember to set the right time zones in your new 2016 calendar. Also consider alternating meetings times to make it convenient for all attendees. Having a meeting at three in the morning might not be ideal for you, but neither is making your colleagues in different parts of the world stay late at the office. (Sometimes it’s the 1 or 2 hour time zone differences that cause the most confusion!)

Fact-find. If you’re working in a new, specific, region of the world, get online and memorize five facts about that country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be seen as credible. And by showing an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect and show genuine interest in your new associates.

Be an anthropologist. Make a resolution when traveling to global locations that you’ll discover new places, people and things. Don’t just rely on tourism books; ask locals to show you around and view sight-seeing as an opportunity to support your business dealings. Just like a real anthropologist would, pay attention to the local communication style and values, the holidays people celebrate and why. You’ll develop deeper relationships with your business contacts and acquire a more nuanced understanding of their backgrounds.

Read the news. Seek out global news sources, read books set in other countries, and watch international films. And don’t just read about the disasters. Find out what is going on the world of business, politics and the social arena. Look for neutral, positive stories.

These tips may sound simple, but I promise they will go a long way toward helping you foster positive and lasting professional relationships in global environments. Finally, remember that developing global mindset isn’t only a business benefit; the growth and enrichment that comes with cross-cultural experiences can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally.

5 Ways to Enter the US Market Successfully

First published on the BDO Blog Site, by Jakob Sand

America is like the Promised Land for many companies in the technology, media, telecoms and life sciences sphere. It is a market with enormous potential, it offers great access to funding and is the place to be, if you want toscale your business as quickly as possible. However, this only holds true if you know the ins and outs of the American journey you are looking to set out on. It is more than likely that a company pursuing the US market will have blind spots, which can lead to unnecessary complications and delays. “We have seen many companies that try to take on the whole process of establishing themselves here in the US on their own. Often, they end up looking around after six months with a sense of frustration over the fact that they have not really gotten off the ground yet,” Mik Strøyberg, CEO of Lemonsqueeze, which specialises in helping companies establish themselves in the US, says. Done right, there is no doubt that the US holds great promise. This is doubly true in the country’s main technology and start-up hubs, like New York, where Lemonsqeeze is based, and Silicon Valley. “Silicon Valley is a unique area with an immense concentration of talent. Just being here can give you global recognition. It is, however, also an area where understanding the ecosystem and the likely challenges you will encounter is essential,” Aftab Jamil, Partner at BDO USA and Global Leader of the BDO Life Sciencesteam, says.

1: Make sure you all understand the ‘why’ of America

Ralf Drews, CEO of the German company Greif-Velox, spent many years working as a top-level representative of European companies in USA. He is co-author of ‘Market Entry into the USA – Why European Companies Fail and How to Succeed’ with Melissa Lamson, president and CEO of Lamson Consulting, which helps foreign companies enter the US market. One of their points is that you need ‘organisational readiness’ to achieve success. While it is debatable what qualifies as an organisation being ready, a minimum requirement is that the entire organisation understands the move, what it is meant to achieve and what it might mean for the rest of the organisation. This requires a clear strategy and goals, which should include whether the move is solely to seek entry to the US market or a stepping-stone in regards to further expansion. Alfredo Coppola is the Co-CEO of the US Market Access Centre (USMAC), a tech accelerator that helpscompanies with entry in the US market. He explains that a presence in Silicon Valley, where USMAC is based, can open doors across the whole world. “Today, a presence here is a stamp of quality that can be used in entering other markets. The early adopter nature and global outlook of Silicon Valley means that it is an excellent route to broadening your international presence,” he says.

2. Figure out how to make the business proposition work

One of the first steps in regards to making the move into the US is formulating a clear, detailed strategy. What is the market that your company is pursuing? What are some of the possibilities and challenges that face you in that move? What is your value proposition? What is the business model? What is the time frame? What are your goals and target? Does the way you make money work without any changes in a US setting? The list of question goes on, and all parts need to be answered before deciding to commit.

Often the best first step for a company will be establishing a sales office in the US and working from there, and potentially basing some R&D resources in the US market as well. For start-ups, there is the option of making the US your home market by founding your company in USA.

In regards to both strategy and establishing offices, it is often a good idea to consult your financial experts. This is doubly true is if they have US contact networks or US offices that can provide help with the process of setting up in the US. Alternatively, you can collaborate with experts or dedicated companies that offer to handle various aspects of the process for you.

3: Getting in takes lots and lots of paperwork

Setting up in the US will require – as is the case everywhere – filling out forms, followed by filling out forms, filling out forms and filling out forms. Partnering with a local company or a dedicated agency can be a great help for many companies to cut down the time spent on these tasks, which otherwise descend into Catch 22 situations. “In some cases, you cannot get a bank account opened, before you have an address – but you cannot rent anything, before you get a bank account,” Mik Støyberg explains.

4: The money is there – but so is the competition

You might think that market shares, talented employees and funding is readily available in USA. Definitely in a place like Silicon Valley. That is also true, but there is an equally strong competition for all of them. If you are looking for software engineers, you will be going up against the likes of Facebook and Google. If you are looking for funding, there is a line of companies going around the block looking for exactly the same thing. This makes it important to stand out to ensure that VCs notice you. Aftab Jamil stresses that it is important for companies to highlight their unique attributes, the problem that they are trying to solve with their product and the market for it. “If you are talking about entering a market worth $100 million, many of them will probably switch off. What VCs are looking for are products that can solve problems and occupy markets worth more than $1 billion a year,” Aftab Jamil says. The same approach applies to exploring markets and securing customers.
It is also important to realise that the huge American market is segmented and the needs of clients can vary greatly, depending on where in the country they are located.

5: You need at least two cultures to succeed

American work culture is something that non-American companies do not necessarily understand. This can become an issue when you hire US workers.“In some European countries, there is a three month kind of ‘honeymoon’ after you are hired. Here, in the US, you expect to come in and deliver from day one. This makes it very important to establish clear milestones from the beginning and have guidelines for new, US employees’ performance is measured,” Mik Strøyberg say. If not, what Europeans consider a relaxing easing into a new position can become a period of acute stress and uncertainty for the new US employees – whom you will want to hire.

Melissa Lamson has worked as lead consultant for many foreign companies looking to enter the US market and has written a number of books on the subject. Based on her experience, the optimal approach is to create office environments that include both Americans and people from the country your company is based in. “One of the most interesting things that came out of looking at the success rate of companies was that it is important to have a mix of locals and foreigners throughout the organisational structure,” she says.

“In my experience, it has been a good idea if many of the top VP execs are native. Your CFO can be European, but in many of the other roles it is a very big plus for the people to have a ‘native level’ insight into the way the market works,” Ralf Drews adds.