Expansion across the Atlantic is the dream of most entrepreneurial British businesses, but it’s difficult to pull off.
Expansion across the Atlantic is the dream of most entrepreneurial British businesses, but it’s difficult to pull off. Glen Manchester, CEO and founder of communications group Thunderhead, provides an insight into breaking the US.
After tasting success at home, many companies turn their attentions to the US as the next market to conquer. But replicating success enjoyed in the UK is no easy feat.
That said, the pay-offs for establishing operations in the US can be huge as arguably businesses are able to scale much faster there than in any other region, certainly more so than in Europe, because of the country’s large, relatively homogeneous market.
Since launching in the US in 2005, Thunderhead, a provider of customer communication management software, has grown considerably and now almost half of its £30 million revenue comes from America.
The first step in entering the world’s largest economy should be to hire local sales executives and management because US companies prefer dealing with suppliers who are based in the country.
Invest senior man-hours on the ground. I put much of our early success in the US down to personally spending a lot of time in the country building up contacts, developing customer confidence and driving the local sales team.
Also, make sure your business proposition is sandblasted, competitive and truly differentiated. The competition is tough in the US. Although Thunderhead’s business plan included US entry from the beginning, we spent time and effort making sure our product was well established in the UK before taking it to the US.
Do your research and target several key accounts in areas where you know your competition is weak. We specifically went after the big insurance and retail banking companies to acquire some trophy accounts. For Thunderhead, taking a long-term approach to the US was crucial.
Finally, spend time and money trialling your product for potential customers in order to prove its business case.