Doing Business Between the UK and the US: What Should Businesses Consider?

June 6, 2024

The UK-US diplomatic relationship, often colloquially referred to as the ‘Special Relationship’, has been formally recognised as a strong one since the end of the Second World War – and yet stretches far beyond it, into the days of empire and the early days of independent America. Today, the Special Relationship is less strong than it has been politically – but in terms of business, interrelationships between growing and well-established enterprises continue to grow strong.

As a growing business, there comes a point at which your growth will stagnate; the UK is a market of finite size and investment potential, and the best opportunities for further expansion are hence found abroad. This is where the Special Relationship can yield dividends for entrepreneurs with an internationalist streak. Crossing the pond isn’t the simplest of tasks, though; what do you need to consider in order to become a trans-Atlantic operator?

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Firstly, and most pressingly for many industries, there are key differences in law and regulation between the UK and the US. These differences are fundamental and profound, and impossible to truncate or simplify in any meaningful way – though some powerful examples can be given regarding the running of a brick-and-mortar business branch itself. For instance, employment laws in many American states are often more lenient than those in the UK, which can be initially confusing, potentially beneficial but otherwise necessary to understand.

Understanding Tax Implications

Speaking of legal differences, there are also essential differences between the UK and the US with regard to taxation – with different systems for reconciling tax owed and different ramifications for business failures to do so. Here, expert advice on tax law is an indispensable provision, whether helping you set up a legal and legitimate international operation or examining your exposure to different forms of tax on either side of the pond.

Cultural Differences in Business Practices

In talking about instituting a new international branch, it is impossible to avoid talking about culture, and the major cultural differences that can arise during set-up and continued operation. The cultural differences between the UK and US may seem superficial, but they can run far deeper – from expectations regarding workload and recompense to fundamental approaches to marketing and sales. Understanding the culture of your new region is essential to maximising the success of your expansion.

Market Entry Strategies

Effecting a successful move, then, involves a multi-prong exercise. For one, you will need a team who are willing to do the hard yards on-site overseas, who can take in-depth knowledge of your business structure and international goals and translate them to tangible results. Once over there, this team will need to establish a localised team in order to properly institute your new branch – this team benefitting from local knowledge and expertise, which can help you properly crack your chosen market.