Editor’s note: “International Business Corner” is a new weekly column written by Joan Keston that will be providing information for people involved in or considering international operations. Keston is an international business consultant. Over the next several months, she will be writing about important issues that international businesses face as they compete in the 21st-century global business environment. This article is the second in a series about building international bridges.
RALEIGH — In order to be successful in global business you must build bridges between the countries where you plan to do business. This article is part of a series that addresses the composition of those bridges.
Building a Bridge Into the U.S.
Most of the considerations for starting a foreign business operation also apply to situations where a foreign company wants to start a business in the United States. The concept of the international bridge remains with a modified focus.
What expertise do we need in our home country?
• Trade Specialist
If you are exporting products, then you will need trade specialists to assist in export documentation, transportation, logistics, etc.
• Tax Planning Professional
Depending on the complexity of your business, you may need international tax attorneys as well as accountants with domestic and international skills for tax planning.
• International Attorney
These attorneys will assist you in addressing the legal issues affecting your international business.
What expertise do we need in the U.S.?
• Global Market Study Consultant
Much of the research can be done on the Internet or by phone. U.S. government reporting of markets and products is fairly extensive and reliable. Also, there are trade associations, university research and studies, consulting firms, etc. that can help provide all the information you might need.
The legal tradition and laws in the U.S. may be quite different from your country and must be understood. Although your country may follow certain international conventions, you must determine the case in the U.S. An important distinction from most countries is the fact that the U.S. is a contract-based culture in business dealings. You must understand the importance of contracts and their impact on your business. Due diligence and compliance have become much more complex and onerous over the past decade, affecting various areas of your business operations.
You will need an accountant to handle your U.S. taxes and understand the local accounting rules. Reporting requirements have increased over the past decade and may apply to your company.
• Trade Specialist
If you are exporting products, then you will need local trade specialists to assist in import documentation, customs, logistics, etc. The regulations have become much more onerous since 9/11.
This is a local business executive who knows the U.S. business culture, is able to communicate well with your international executive and corporate development executive, is dedicated to the success of your business venture and knows how to achieve your goals and objectives.
• Market Penetration Leaders
These individuals have the necessary sales and marketing experience and skills to help you achieve your market penetration metrics in the U.S.
Corporate Development Executive / International Executive
These executives will have the burden of educating and leading your management team (located in your home country) in making important decisions for your company in the U.S. These individuals may be from your country or the U.S., but must know the U.S. business culture.
They must be sensitive to the nuances and influencing factors that affect your management and deeply understand your business culture in order to help management understand the U.S. business culture. They must be able to address the issues and communicate effectively with your management and have the foresight to plan and resolve issues for the long run.
Building and maintaining trust and a relationship are crucial to their success. If you are from a developing country, these considerations are even more important. The role of these executives can be vital, depending on your management’s experience in a free-market economy and a developed country and their familiarity with relevant business concepts as used in the U.S. business culture.
Joan Keston is a Senior Managing Principal of Keston & Associates, Ltd., an international business consulting firm located in Raleigh, N.C., and a partner at Paladin and Associates, Inc. She has over 20 years of corporate business experience, including as a corporate attorney. Her firm assists companies establish business operations throughout the world. She can be reached at (919) 881-7764 and email@example.com.