How to do Business in the United States: Through the Eyes of a Life Sciences Executive
A blog by our partner AxelaRx Biosciences.
As I arrived at Washington Dulles National Airport to catch my flight back to the Netherlands I felt exhausted. I had just finished one of my first business trips to the United States. However, at that time it felt more like I had run a marathon seven days in a row without any training. As a ‘rookie’ I completely underestimated the distances between the states, and thus, scheduled my meetings too short after each other. During the week I had visited at least four different states and talked to several business partners in each state. Now while waiting for my flight back home I did not understand how someone could do business in the United States. The country seemed so big and the culture so different.
Nevertheless, over the past 20 years the United States became my second home. As a Life Sciences Executive and entrepreneur, I can be found in the United States at least once a month. I fell in love with the entrepreneurial atmosphere, the endless willingness to create and the freedom to think big.
However, I also learned that merely dreaming of the ‘American dream’ will never generate any progress. It is the doing that makes all the difference. And once you do, you lead and encourage others to support and follow. In this article I will discuss the two most important things a European (Life Sciences) venture needs to be successful in the United States.
Spend time in the United States
When planning on doing business in the United States you should go to stay. It seems obvious, but many European companies fail to see that opportunities in the United States only unfold when you are there to stay. In general: if you visit, you will be treated as a visitor; if you stay, you will be treated as a local.
A company should spend enough time physically in the United States. This will help build life-long relationships and help you learn how things move on the ground. Further, it will also reflect your perseverance and commitment to the professional community you engage with overseas.
Therefore, make sure to properly prepare for the long-term and have all resources in place to support your strategy. A visit once every three months is not going to suffice and resources will be wasted if you throw in the towel too early.
Budget your undertaking
“Money makes the U.S. go round.” Overall, service fees and business undertakings in the United States are higher than in Europe. Therefore, it is important to budget for these rates and have sufficient resources before you start counseling. Nevertheless, if you design your strategy properly, focus on certain territories first and surround yourself with the right experts to help you, it is worth the funding you spend.
In summary, I would not encourage you to start your business in the United States if you do not have the time to be there often and/or do not have the resources to survive. However, although it might sound like an oxymoron, one has to take the step and explore the opportunity his or her own way. Step by step, from being a foreigner till you become a local.
Currently, during the COVID-19 crisis, it has been harder for any venture, including my own, to travel and engage with the people in the United States. Video conferences brought the world closer together, nevertheless, nothing is more effective than meeting people in person.
The United States offers borderless opportunities to anyone with courage, a big idea and entrepreneurial mentality to make it happen. If you feel like I did 20 years ago then please reach out. The AxelaRx team would be more than willing to support you on this exciting journey to the United States!