While the term “small business” may bring to mind someone working solo from their own home, it’s actually more than possible for a small business to expand overseas. If you have produced a product or service that’s doing well in the USA, then there’s a good chance it will succeed in the UK.
Why Is This?
Despite a war literally separating the two countries, they remain intrinsically linked. The culture is similar, often bleeding over into one another. Popular US shows will be picked up by UK stations, and seemingly no US show – from Friends to Parks & Recreation – is without a special London episode. The two countries are also, more often than not, united politically thanks to the “special relationship”.
So if you have managed to persuade the American public that your small business is producing a product they want and need, there’s a high likelihood that UK consumers will feel the same.
Is It Possible?
It’s more possible to expand into the UK marketplace than ever before. The internet has brought the entire world closer together, reinforcing that link between the two major Anglophone countries. If you can send a product or set up an office in all 50 states, then it’s really not that big of a leap to also do so in the UK.
How Can It Happen?
You have two options; continue to operate from the USA and work remotely with UK customers and clients, or try and set up an entire office based in the United Kingdom.
The latter might sound complicated – and there’s no denying it is without its potential pitfalls. You’re going to have to cross the Atlantic personally and learn an entirely new way of doing business. You’ll find yourself enmeshed in an startling world of bureaucracy and financial management. There will doubtless be times when you’re stuck asking yourself: “is corporation tax the same thing as sales tax?”, “what is ir35?” or simply, “what do all these acronyms stand for?”
It’s confusing, without a doubt – but it’s also worth remembering there are plenty of companies, accountants, and experts in the UK who can help with the management of a UK office.
If you truly want to take the leap to going global one day, the UK could be a great practice run. It’s different enough to the US to be a challenge, but not so different it’s nigh-on impossible.
In the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union – commonly referred to as Brexit – the UK is in the midst of renegotiating its trading partnership with the entire world. There has been particular emphasis from both the US and UK governments that the two countries will form a specific trade agreement in the wake of Brexit. There is a good chance that American-friendly policies will be forthcoming as a result. If you make the decision to expand at this point in time, your business might be able to surf the crest of that wave.