One of the common topics that come up with the Irish business owners or managing directors I speak with is just where in the US to set up their business. Common themes are familiarity with a part of the US where they studied or worked years ago, wanting to be near hubs of a particular industry or a place that holds resonance or romance (New York and Boston get mentioned a lot!). Noticing a trend or under-served market is only the beginning. Choosing the right place for your business will support how your business grows as well as how your employees develop. This segment of your planning is an important part of the expansion process.
What is most important?
Underneath it all, the location you pick has to be consistent with the vision and goals in your business plan. There are a few things to consider as you settle on the best place for your expanding business.
- Infrastructure: This is a major consideration. Evaluate your access to established warehouse, lab or retail space, the ability to ship easily (highways, railways, water and air) and other similar companies in your or complementary industries. You may even want to note the specialties of local universities, entrepreneurial/innovative communities, strategic alliances or partners and/or the investor community.
- Costs: It is a good idea to get a sense of what labor, renting or buying property and proximity of supplies might cost in each location that you are considering. Also learn about business taxes, income taxes and other start up expenses for each potential area. It is worthwhile to compare the incentives offered at the state and local level (many towns and cities in the US are competitively looking for companies).
- Customers: You can discover this through market research. Locating close to actual and potential customers will aid in networking and customer service.
- Hiring locals: Besides becoming aware of the specialties of local universities, you may need to know what costs are involved in attracting employees. Certain industries attract people to settle in specific area so certain skill sets are readily available. Assess whether it makes sense to have expats or locally-based staff for compliance with employment and immigration laws.
- Ease of travel (home and nationally): Being near major roadways and airports will support your access to customers everywhere. Also, it may make a difference when you (or any expats) want to get home without a lot of hassle or expense.
- Quality of life: As you acclimate to the US, there are times when you are going to feel homesick and want the tastes or sounds of home. Check the area for groups from your home country and restaurants that serve authentic food. Also learn about the various residential areas (like anywhere, US cities and/or towns can vary in wealth), the cost to rent or own, cost of living and how easy it is to buy groceries, send children to school and recreational activities.
These are just a few of the considerations you will have as you look at all of the places you might settle your business in the US.
Professional help makes the path smoother
There are a lot of details to arrange. It may make sense to work with a trade organization (such as Enterprise Ireland) or a consultant who specializes in connecting companies with the necessary resources (something akin to a concierge and advocate). It may even suit your purposes to work with both. Having someone based in your desired area sets you and your company to work with more appropriate resources. While you could do all of this on your own, time zones and frequent travel will not only get in the way of what you do best but could open you up to greater expense. Keep in mind that each region of the US has its own quirks- accents, idioms and customs. Working with a well-connected professional can help you put real numbers and deadlines into your business plan plus introduce you to the resources you might want or need.
Choosing the Right Place For Your Business
Expanding in the US is an exciting process and can even be fun as you meet new people who are excited and interested in your business. Everyone may express an eagerness for you to choose their particular location. However, the process of evaluating each location to see if it is the best place for your organization must be more than a feel-good exercise. Combining the hearts and minds of your and your team will help you decide if your desired location supports your vision and business goals.
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