Expanding to the US market can be a significant milestone for any startup. The sooner the US expansion, the better the outcome, as the data points out (see the Data-Driven Approach to an Early US Expansion).
'Am I ready' is the question that everyone is asking because the challenge seems considerable. We ask ourselves the same question with every opportunity we examine. We have developed a very simple scoring tool for internal use. it takes less than two minutes to complete. We share it in this post, hoping that it will be useful to get out of the dreadful 'yes' or 'no' alternative and start working on practical issues.
Below, we detail the main questions we ask ourselves to assess if a start-up is ready, or not, to expand into the United States with solid chances of success. We focus on hard facts. Depending on your situation, these chapters can also inspire your work plan for the next few months if you want to move forward in the US direction
- How is leadership's fluency in English?
- Is English the main company language?
- Do you have a unique feature that your US counterparts lack?
- Is your product already sold in USD?
The product market fit can be different in the US so the discovery (or re-discovery) phase is key. It is generally necessary to adjust pricing and create new marketing materials and contracts to appeal to US customers, this is not a light task.
- Is one of the cofounders ready to move to the US?
- How many connections can you leverage to generate business in the US?
No hire, however senior and committed can bring the equivalent owner's mindset to the market. This does not mean moving permanently, as a lot of work can be done remotely once you have understood where and how you can make a difference and established a first network.
One more thing...investment
Investment has so many variables that we didn't include it in our scoring tool (below) as it could result in false negatives. This is a factor we prefer to discuss as part the investment strategy.
Test your readiness
The US market is a crucial stepping stone for European startups. At the same time, it’s a step that can feel scary and overwhelming. The US Market Expansion test can help startups assess their readiness for the US market and develop a roadmap for success. For more information on expanding to the US market, check out these helpful resources:
A Data-Driven Approach to an Early US Expansion
Meet the Latest French Founder to Move to the US After Raising $100M
The Most Important Things to Know About the San Francisco Startup Culture
The 10 Commandments of Doing Business in the US
Traveling for the First Time to Silicon Valley
7 Common Traps When Expanding to the US (And How to Avoid Them)
Don't wait too long to take the leap, and give us a ring, helping founders nail US expansion is what we do:)