The United Countries of America: What it's Really Like to Start a Business in the U.S.

United States Flag Button with Business Concept Stick Figures
United States Flag Button with Business Concept Stick Figures

As an Australian entrepreneur who is hitting the ground, learning the ins and outs of doing business in America, I've learned that the U.S. is a much more fragmented country than it appears. A more appropriate name for the U.S.A is the United Countries of America.

After my business partner Frank Restuccia and I grew to be the leading financial comparison website in Australia, we decided to launch in the U.S. when our product manager moved to Los Angeles last month. We saw a business opportunity and took the leap with her to move one step closer to our dreams of becoming the world's leading financial comparison website. So we set up an office in Santa Monica and I've spent the past week strategizing the business model to adapt to the local market.

While we knew that it would be a challenge to build a business in a foreign country to us, there have definitely been revelations in doing business in America. Every state has different tax rates, labor laws, and the level of individualism between states is almost unfathomable compared to Australia. There are undoubtedly excellent reasons to launch a business in the U.S.: the entrepreneurial, can-do attitude is a thriving sentiment and people are willing to help your business grow. In Australia, to start your own business is only something for dreamers.

On the flip side, there is intense competition -- extreme amounts of competition, compared to Australia. When I came to explore the U.S. market back in September of last year, the most shocking realization was that the competition would be stiffer than anticipated. But the contest to make the best product comes hand in hand with innovation.

For entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business, whether you're an American or an overseas business owner, taxes and labor laws are crucial intricacies that you need to understand. Labor laws for instance are starkly different between California, Texas and New York and they vary between all states. In Australia, the difference between states is only marginal.

Another factor to consider when starting up your own business is your talent pool. Los Angeles has become a key player to getting skilled talent. People are more enthusiastic and open to new ideas and innovation.

My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is the following:

  • Pay for good advice so that you can get yourself up to speed with the business environment.

  • Talk to as many people as you can to get varying perspectives and advice.
  • Before expanding too quickly, it's important that your core business is resilient enough to handle an expansion.
  • Always expect to use more resources and time than you had initially planned.
  • Crossing borders with your business will unleash unlimited potential and you can learn about your own business model. If you can stomach meandering through confusing tax and labor laws, attract talented people and find your customers then you're on the path to success. Despite several years of anemic growth in America, as an outsider looking in, I see a wealth of potential and the spirit of entrepreneurialism is alive and well.

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