Understanding America – Part III – 5 Things You Need to Know
So you know how big a market America is and how important it can be for your business. But do you really understand the why it’s so important. Here are 5 things you need to know:
- Yes, it’s a big market. It’s 311 million million people. But more than that. It’s 311 million people who love to shop. These aren’t Europeans who like to save for a purchase. They’re not Asians with new money and a need to buy all the essentials (i.e. car, laundry machine, iron). Americans have everything but we want more. So what you have is 311 million consumers that want to buy your stuff. You just have to come here and show it to them.
- Lots of Credit Cards. Americans have lots of credit cards so you don’t need to worry about if they have money. They have credit (at least some still do). From a non-US perspective this is a bit difficult to understand. There really aren’t any credit cards outside the US. Most of the plastic cards outside the US are debit cards – in short you can’t buy something if you don’t have cash in the bank. Not having cash in the bank never stopped an American. You just whip out your credit card and bang you get to go home with your purchase. You can worry about how to pay for it later. But, that’s another story. So, here’s what you need to know: American’s have lots of money. Companies too have credit (and you will have access to this) – less than they did a few years ago, but if they see something that can help their business Americans are used to buying today and paying tomorrow. Buy today, pay tomorrow – that’s American.
- Everyone speaks one language. Yep, that’s 311 million people who speak English (which includes a whole bunch that also speak Spanish). That means you do one set of brochures, one video, one TV ad, one web site, one of absolutely everything you need to reach your customers. If you’re in the European Union you’ll need to do this 22 times. That means your costs are 22x higher (we’ll almost) plus you have all that additional management overhead of managing 22 different regions. The US is one market. The only other market that will reach this scale in the future is China. But, what America has today is a huge single market, a high per capita income and a sophisticated business environment with lots of legal and and patent protection.
- It’s one culture. Beyond having just have one language, America has one culture. The country is incredibly divers but there’s a core set of beliefs that run through the country. Some of those are: self reliance, can do, getting things done, not waiting for Washington to solve a problem (although this may not always work as well as we’d like), not waiting for Washington to provide you with the funds you need to grow your business (although there’s plenty of government money too), the belief in the entrepreneur and a belief that anyone can achieve anything here – heck, how many countries can say they elected a President of mixed race who’s father was from Africa. It’s a country where anything is possible. At least that’s part of the common culture and something most people have in common. Is your home culture one of can-do? Is your home culture one that elevates the entrepreneur? Is your home culture one that depends on it’s solutions (e.g. financing) coming from the capital city? If you can’t answer these questions to your satisfaction then you should bring your business here. You’ll find the environment refreshing – competitive for sure – but with endless possibilities.
- Its so darn easy. OK, you’re not going to be plucking gold from the streets – although many used to describe it that way in the 1950’s. America has grown up a lot since then but it still has an undeniable quality that you don’t see in many other countries – and that is: if you have a good product or service all you need to do is get it out into the market. American’s don’t care if you’re new to the market, they don’t care if they have never heard of you, they don’t care if you speak English with an accent. What they care about is: Will you make money for me? Will your product or service be good for my company? From a consumer perspective this isn’t all that different. Sure brands are important, but a foreign brand can be very chic to American consumers so play on it. This point is that you don’t have to have been in business 100 years and super connected to all the power players to sell your products here. What you need is the willingness to pick up a phone (See my blog – This Is Not A Telephone) or knock on that door or in short, the willingness to just to it..
So, there you have it, 5 tips on understanding what doing business in American means. What you need to do is book that flight and start doing business here. It’s a lot easier than you think and a whole lot more profitable than going after the 2 or 3 countries that are next to you. Your 311 million customers are awaiting. So, go ahead. What are you waiting for? Book your flight now!
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