As you grow your business and look towards exporting your products or services, you might be looking across the pond for new customers. Wherever you are based you need to be aware of certain important differences between the USA and Europe. Being able to communicate effectively with new customers from a different continent can make a great difference in the way your company grows and diversifies.
1. Neither are just one country
Over 50 countries make up Europe. Almost each of these have their unique language, culture and way of doing business. Many Americans know this and act accordingly. However many European business who want to enter the profitable American market sometimes incorrectly treat it as just 1 country.
Yes, technically the USA is 1 country, however each state is different. States haves their own rules, their own history and their own way of doing things. It is important to treat each state as a separate country. You will find that even the languages vary across states. English is spoken almost everywhere, but Spanish, for example, is also a very common language, especially in states bordering Mexico.
2. Formalities could be important
When you look at the differences between the USA and Europe you will immediately notice the varied formalities. Whilst Americans tend to me less formal and focus on the bigger picture, Europeans generally prefer more formality and look for the details. When you are communicating with a new client from a new country it is always advisable to air on the side of caution. It is better to start off being formal and then adjust, depending on your customer’s approach.
3. Bill payments
There are considerable differences between the USA and Europe, particularly some countries in Europe, as far as bill payments are concerned. On this topic different countries vary dramatically. I do not wish to generalise, however many people I do business with tell me stories of Italian or Greek businesses who do not pay their international suppliers until they are legally threatened.
The general advice in this case should apply when doing business with any new client in a new country. As a business owner you need to take any reasonable precautions and carry out risk management on any new deals. You need to ensure that you have some sort of payment guarantee, such as with a letter of credit or insurance so that you protect your business.