Australian entrepreneurs looking to crack the US market need to adapt to America’s culture and business landscape if they want to make it, according to serial entrepreneur Sheryle Bolton.
Bolton, a US-based business strategy consultant and entrepreneur, has raised almost $100 million in investment funding and guided the development of 20 software and internet products.
She is also a mentor for ANZA Technology Network, which works with Australian, New Zealand, American and Asian entrepreneurs to access new markets and commercialise globally.
In a guest blog post for ANZA, Bolton identifies four US market challenges commonly faced by Australian businesses.
“I’ve worked with several Australian company CEOs who have wanted to grow their businesses in the US… Their challenges have been very similar,” Bolton wrote.
“The faster these challenges can be confronted and dealt with, the easier the entry into the US market is likely to be.”
Bolton offers her advice on each one:
1. Americans want everything done their way, and tend to brag about themselves
“Americans can be a real bunch of know-it-alls… We tend to tell it straight and sometimes with too much authority,” Bolton wrote.
“We understand the urgency of moving fast and competently, and we know there’s no time to waste. It’s difficult here to get any customer’s attention for anything.”
“With so many people vying for a piece of the business pie, we’ve learnt that if we don’t ‘sell’ our companies constantly, then who else will?”
“If you don’t scream from the mountaintops about your product/service, you will be totally lost in the ‘noise’ and no one will be able to find you.”
2. I have an idea but I don’t want to tell anyone because they might steal it
“Few people in the US worry about stealing ideas – there are lots of ideas because there are so many people thinking about starting businesses.”
“Instead, most successful US businesspeople believe that implementation of the good idea is much harder to accomplish than coming up with the initial idea.”
“Ideas typically change anyway when confronted by real-life markets.”
“Implementing a carefully constructed, realistic and targeted strategy with fiscal discipline is one way to begin to tackle such a huge, noisy market and build a business model that works.”
3. It’s important to be opportunistic and grab anything that looks like revenue – right?
“With so many people all vying to grow more, faster, better, there always seems to be potential everywhere you look.”
“And again, because the markets are so big, both in valuation and geography, it is alluring to lurch from one thing to the next. That is also a sure way to get nowhere fast.”
“It [is] critical to carefully select a strategy that fits your company, has potential to succeed, and can be executed with the time and fiscal constraints that you have identified.”
“The US is a big place so, from a business standpoint, things have to be cut down to size. And then it takes discipline to stick with the plan, especially in the face of all that potential.”
4. The US is where all the big money is, but I don’t want to move there
“Starting a company or expanding a company in the US takes total commitment… If you as CEO of your company can’t give it your all, then who will?”
“Customers, employers, vendors and investors all want to be sure that you will be involved every day, all day. That means being here, moving here or spending enormous chunks of time here.”
“It’s the only way to understand the critical nuances and take advantage of those opportunities when they matter. Money is just not enough.”