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“Could the land of the free cost you the Earth?”

15 Nov 2018 By Octopus Ventures

Is your company ready to manage the complexity of a multinational operation? While the US’ large market holds great promise for scale, even the most successful CEOs had to contend with many unexpected challenges.

A US entry is expensive and not always strategic. If the business is not yet successful and resilient in the home market, the expansion adds strain to a vulnerable position. There’s consensus that CEO and/or founder DNA is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition to effective US entry, and splitting attention between the two continents can diminish the probability of high success in both markets.

Every CEO interviewed spoke of the difficulties of maintaining culture across continents, of underestimating the impact of miscommunication and of the toll of constant travel on focus and energy.

Additionally, US revenues can take longer to ramp up and costs are substantially higher than European markets, up to the point where they can undermine the viability of a company’s business plan.

Extensive pre-marketing, market assessment and network building – all activities that can de-risk the US entry – are almost always overlooked. It is important to distinguish between being operational in the US and having people on the ground here. US entry requires dedicated focus from a company executive, and hiring strong local talent can be difficult.

How will you address these common challenges?

Asking questions doesn’t mean dampening your ambitions; instead, it signals deliberate action with measured risks. The opportunity is massive if you’re prepared for it. What other questions will you ask?

Where to go next

Are you a US-based executive of a European VC-backed business? Join a group of CEOs and senior executives who are willing to share their insights and experience to help the next generation of European companies make it in America

European Founders USA application


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