Do’s and Don’ts

Below you will find the first Do’s and Don’ts every startup and established business coming to the USA should know. For a more in depth information, read our ongoing blog series on the same subject.

Tips and “Do’s and Don’ts” of doing business in the USA

Even though many aspects of the U.S. (business) society look familiar, there are many differences, and even though we name a few below, we are just scratching the surface!

Let’s start with some general tips:

  • Know your purpose – who you want to meet and why
  • Prepare yourself to making long hours; they are the norm,
  • Make sure you know your product/service inside out and be proud, don’t be shy!
  • “Sell” yourself and your company; active selling is not considered excessive
  • Decimal Point = Comma; meaning hundred-thousand as a number is 100,000
  • Bring plenty of business cards
  • When planning a trip, observe the public holidays in the U.S., like Independence Day (4th of July). People will be out, having a BBQ, or visiting their family in other states. You could waste costly days.
  • Observe personal space – don’t get too close to other parties (2 feet rule)
  • Avoid confrontations – people shy away from conflict
  • Make sure you get accustomed with popular American expressions like:
    • Touch base
    • Throw a curve ball
    • Ballpark figure
    • Jump the gun
    • Test the waters, etc.

Do’s and don’ts:

  • Do confirm an appointment before you leave
  • Do not talk about religion or politics during your first business session
  • Do not waste time with small talk, however, do ask how much time you have (because within that time frame you’ll have to come across)
  • Do practice an elevator pitch of 60 seconds about your company before going to the U.S.
  • Do identify an appropriate niche
  • Do mention a problem your company solves
  • Do mention your competitors and your advantage
  • Do not use liters, meters, Celsius or Euros when making a presentation
  • A big Do is having your presentation checked out with an American spellchecker, an English S could become an American Z, etc.
  • Do develop a marketing plan
  • Do not start with handing out business gifts
  • Do attend network events because there are plenty and you’ll make yourself known to a wide variety of contacts
  • Do follow up on any opportunity
  • Do use all relevant social media to have your presence out there
  • Do not jeopardize your waiver status (over 90 days or work)

Good to know:

  • Make sure paper documentation, business cards, etc. are in U.S. format
  • When planning establishing a branch organization, convince potential partners you are in the U.S. for the long run
  • Make sure you have the right clothes for the right event; don’t be underdressed, don’t be overdressed!
  • Mostly you’ll find a dress code when formally invited.
  • Tipping when in a restaurant or bar should be at least 15% (up to 20%), however, pay attention because some eateries or bars will charge automatically 18% to groups of six or over! Remember though; waiters and waitresses are working for minimum wages, the tips make their lives livable!
  • It should be a don’t, and it is; don’t be funny with cops (police)

Thanks for reading, find out more in our blog series of Do’s and Don’ts.