A few things to consider when expanding operations to the US market
In every culture around the world, children are taught to respect others and treat them well. Is it possible to forget a basic value such as this when working or doing business with others in our everyday lives?
In January 2018, I got an opportunity to spend a week in New York with 13 great Finnish growth companies – or to be more specific, 29 wonderful people. During this Grow to USA trip, the importance of people and relationships when doing business in the US markets was highlighted in a lot of speeches and conversations. On the second day of our trip, we got to hear the TOP 10 tips for entering the US markets from Johannes Suikkanen, Managing Partner of Gemic Oy, who has successfully expanded their operations to the US markets. After his speech, I was stunned – in a positive way. Six of Suikkanen’s TOP 10 tips were related to people: customers, partners and personnel.
Regarding customers, Suikkanen highlighted the importance of networking. He also pointed out that in the US, companies must aim to serve and help other people. A theme that was repeated again and again during the week was that networking and genuinely helping others play a huge role in a company’s success in the US market. In my opinion, this approach would also be welcome in the Finnish business world. We are getting better at networking, but selflessly helping others is still rare. With regard to helping, Suikkanen reminded us that companies tend to forget that their customers are also nice people who are willing to help. How many times have you remembered to ask your customers who they think could have use for your product or service?
Recruiting. If it’s already challenging in Finland, it does not get easier in foreign markets where you compete for the best people with local businesses who already have a reputation, and thus credibility, in the eyes of the professionals. This theme was brought up as the greatest challenge in the US markets by Johannes Suikkanen and several other entrepreneurs. According to Suikkanen, companies must not settle for anything but the best regardless of recruitment challenges. This sounds obvious, but after months of going through recruitment processes and waiting to get into the market, taking a shortcut may start to seem tempting.
Several experts also mentioned that even if a company entering the US markets manages to recruit highly skilled professionals from the US for their team, at least in the early stages it would be best if a key player from the Finnish company moved to the US to work with the new team. This allows the company to ensure that their values, policies and company culture are also adopted by the new team. And, related to this point – if your company wants to do business in the US, it must be located in the US. That became extremely clear to us during the Grow to USA week.
All in all: people make business and business is based on people. Let’s remember this in our everyday lives as well as when conquering the US market
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