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4 ways to build a company culture in the USA

Tuesday, 5 November 2019 15:40 PM | International expansion

USA business expansion

Defining and communicating your unique story, culture and values with your employees and customers will provide a solid bedrock for all aspects of your US expansion.

Your culture is the beating heart of your company. It should inspire and motivate your staff. Establishing culture and values on home-ground is one thing, but as you scale and move over the pond you’ll need to find a way to translate this to your new team.

In the eagerness to grow and break into new markets, the values and vision that set your business apart often take a back seat. However, it isn’t to be underestimated. Supper Club members observe that establishing and communicating what your business stands for, will help guide key decisions to grow effectively in the US.

What makes your culture different? 

When you take the time to define your values and revisit them as you grow, you’ll know that it’s not an easy undertaking. Your story is a unique and very important element of your success. Defining who you are, why you exist and how your business aspires to excel should be shared with everyone who plays a key role in your growth success.

Having that razor-sharp focus on vision and values will help you perfect your sales and marketing strategy. It will attract the right talent on both sides of the Atlantic who will want to be part of your US expansion. You’ll be able to appeal to best-in-class investors and professionals committed to being part of your journey. Which will ultimately make you stand out to prospective customers.

Tip: As you enter the US ask other businesses to act as coaches. Showing some vulnerability and asking for help inspires confidence. Americans are generous with their contacts, more so than in the UK.

Location, location, location

While there is no immediate language barrier when preparing to market and sell in the US – unless, for example, you are specifically targeting the very large Spanish-speaking communities – regional variations in culture tend to be more stylistic than substantial. The way you segment your target audiences in the US will determine particular cultural references for how you market and sell.

The East Coast states, such as New York and Massachusetts, tend to have fast-paced business environments where high expectations prevail. They can be some of the most alluring markets for members focused on media, fintech and fashion retail, for example. With a five-hour time difference between New York and London, it’s much easier to do business from the UK. New York and Boston also have stronger cultural alignment with the UK.

The Mid-West is typically friendlier and more family-orientated, but the sales process is slower. Likewise, southern states such as Georgia and Texas, with their established and innovative tech hubs and varied sectors, tend to be less frantic and slower-paced than the East Coast.

When you venture to the West Coast the culture is more relaxed but will vary by state and city. The time difference between San Francisco or Los Angeles and London is eight hours, so this needs to be managed effectively to maximise outputs.

Tip: Sign up for the Global Entry Programme which will give you expedited access through airport security. Some members prefer to fly into Newark over JFK for shorter queues.

Consider the time difference 

Clearly, the further west and south you go in the US, the time difference with the UK becomes more of an issue. It’s important to be aware of how much of the working day will overlap between countries and states, and how this will impact on your team’s abilities to deliver.

Avoid trying to force common hours in offices that operate in different time zones. Instead, have a clear plan of how a staggered work-flow can be complementary across your different locations. Your company culture should recognise the times your employees work in different offices
so that you don’t inadvertently encourage a potentially unsustainable practice
of working extra hours.

American culture

As you grow in the US, members agree that it’s important to adapt your culture to incorporate the American mindset. Your US colleagues are generally motivated by a belief in independence and self- reliance, and they embrace investing in their own learning and professional development.

The US business culture encourages people to strive at being the best in their chosen field, embodying the highly driven win-win approach, where excelling is imperative.

Positivity abounds in the US and your teams there will be eager to learn how they can achieve the success they crave. For many companies the US experience can be truly transformative. There is
a distinct willingness to be generous in the US corporate world, sharing data and insights. Remember that this generosity needs to be two way, so as a founder or CEO give sufficient time and energy to developing your US team.

Adding a programme of team-building events is a very good way to show commitment to your team’s professional development and personal enjoyment in working for you. Having a local culture champion in your US team who is aligned with your culture at home is also a good way to ensure company-wide harmony.

Tip: Members observe that Americans like to put a positive spin on any criticism.
How can technology promote culture?

As you’re growing your multi-time zone business, technology will be one of your best friends in helping to connect all members of your team, wherever they’re based. Remember to foster as much communication as you can. Work out what you want from your chosen technology and make sure that it suits your purpose and culture.

  • Social communication video tools like Zoom, Cisco Webex and Slack (also for chat) connect remote and disparate teams in cost-effective and human ways.
  • Project management and cross-team collaboration can be enhanced by adopting very simple solutions, such as G Suite Business, Gira or One Drive.
  • Marketing and external communications
  • are made easy with services like HubSpot, MailChimp and Marketo.
  • Applicant tracking systems are perfect tools for growing teams. Check out Greenhouse, Workable or Lever.
  • CRM software solutions, such as Salesforce, Affinity and HubSpot are a must for all businesses focused on maxing out sales prospects.

We regularly host events for our members looking to expand to the US. If you're intersted in joining the Club fill in an application here. 

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