Road to the USA: my reflections making business abroad

In this opinion piece, Marco Alonso Castro, Americas Account Manager at inlea, compares his personal experience as an expatriate living in the United States, with the process of preparation, adaptation and growth of companies that decide to enter the American market.

Many of us that lived outside The United States has often heard about the “American Dream” phrase, but is it really that dreamy? Long story short, America is a window of opportunity and the realization of a financially stable life. Whether you are coming to establish here, study, or start a business, the United States offers a wide range of benefits. But it also has some obstacles that, while not difficult to overcome, should be taken into account before making the decision to come. When I chose to pursue an MBA in the United States a few years ago, I had to consider all of these factors.

The language barrier may be the first thing that comes to mind, and you might think that intensive English courses back home can help to overcome it. The truth is that being such a diverse country, it takes a while to get used to the different accents but it is not something that could be of concern. Cultural differences and procedures could also generate initial stress. The United States is framed by legal procedures and regulations that can confuse those of us who are trying to start paperwork in the country for the first time.

From a business perspective, the situations are not that different. The United States is one of the easiest and most open countries to do business, but it is also framed by the same legal procedures and regulations. However, there are many advantages and benefits for entrepreneurs, whether they want to start a business from scratch or establish a new subsidiary here to expand their business.

In my experience working with companies looking to open operations here, the first step a company must take is to establish a clear vision of what the business will do, the mission and long-term objectives, taking into account that the target market and its needs can be very different from those back at home. Having a business plan that defines what the business is, who the competitors are, who the customers will be, how it will operate, and how the finances work will be an important beacon in the early years of development.

The Landing Stage

After having my goals clear and the plan in place, I decided to move to Nebraska, right in the center of the country. A Peruvian used to tropical weather now experiencing sub-zero winters and trying not to go over the speed limit because miles are not the same as kilometers. As I mentioned earlier, culture shock can hit the ground running, but it also brings its rewards. Experiencing the first falls in the snow makes you learn what boots to wear and that what they call “black ice” is a death trap, they make the trip full of learning. So is not bad to make mistakes along the way, it will show us that we need a better coat during January and February, that a ride to another state can be as short as a walk through the bridge and that, no matter what will come we can adjust.

The same happens with companies in their early years entering a new market, especially this one, and that is why in Inlea our mission is to support international expansion and corporate innovation of our partners by providing the best advice. We work with various companies that seek to expand the market in areas as diverse as a disruptive technology, education, manufacturing, mass consumption, among others helping them to adjust to the new situations.

One of the characteristics that identifies us, differentiates us, and helps to overcome any barrier that our clients may have when entering different markets, is the flexibility and the speed with which we respond to problems, which make us the best ally they can have. One of our clients in the United States, dedicated to the field of education has worked with us for more than 10 years, becoming strategic partners, accompanying and advising them not only here but also in their operations worldwide.

Resilience first

And so, with marked seasons, harsh winters, and distances in feet, with all its pros and cons, The United States continues to offer opportunities that if we know how to take advantage of them will become great rewards. And for companies, whatever the industry or sector, this country offers the largest consumer market in the world, with great networking opportunities with entrepreneurs from other places, with whom the company can establish good synergies and opportunities to continue expanding. We just need to seize the challenge, set our fears aside, and enjoy every opportunity the new country gives us. We just need to be resilient.