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5 key differences between UK and US businesses

We share the same language, some shared history and a love of many of the same pop culture references, but doing business in the UK and the USA shows how dramatic the contrast truly is. Aside from the UK’s plodding pace and slightly begrudging attitude towards work (versus the USA’s ‘go-getter’ attitude and culture of overtime), ‘doing business’ in the USA is very different to doing business in the UK.

But why does this matter? Well, being aware of these differences matters if you’re thinking of expanding your UK based business to the States. If you’re planning on getting a foothold in America, here are five key differences between UK and US businesses that you need to know to boost your chances of success…

1. US businesses really focus on customer service

According to Marketing Week, UK brands are still ‘four years behind the US’ so far as customer experience is concerned. And, what consumers expect from businesses is different too. For example, 45% of American respondents in a survey said that being thanked for being a customer is important, compared to just 35% of respondents from the UK. Moreover, the survey found that although levels of satisfaction are the same in both countries, customers have higher expectations and better experiences in the USA. So, if you’re thinking of expanding your business to the USA, be prepared to step it up a gear.

2. UK businesses pay less corporation tax

Another difference is the amount of corporation tax businesses pay. In the UK, businesses pay a rate of approximately 20%, whereas businesses in the US pay a rate of approximately 35- 39%. While the USA’s rate of corporation taxation may change (President Trump has recently suggested that corporation tax will be lowered, which may bring it closer in line with corporation tax in the UK) it’s still an important consideration for UK businesses thinking of testing the market in America.

3. US businesses operate in a mosaic of markets

The UK is a small island, which means it’s relatively easy to survey the market, find your place within it and keep a close eye on competition. However, for businesses operating in the USA, it’s a very different story. The USA is a vast place, and its market is more of a ‘mosaic’ than a single piece. For this reason, UK based businesses looking to sell to America should conduct thorough market research within a specific state (or states), rather than hoping to ‘crack America’ as one entity.

4. UK businesses employ their workers via contracts

Here in the UK, businesses typically employ workers via employment contracts. However, this is in stark contrast to the US, where most businesses employ workers on an ‘at-will’ basis. The ‘at-will’ doctrine means that employees are free to come and go as they wish without notice, and employers are equally as free to terminate working relationships (so long as doing so would not constitute a violation of a working class). The result of this is that although positions are less protected in the USA compared to the UK, US workers are often very driven and work hard to keep their positions and climb the career ladder.

5. US businesses pay for less holiday leave

Finally, businesses operating in the USA pay for less holiday leave than those operating in the UK. Here in the UK, companies are required to offer their workers a statutory minimum of approximately 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year. In the USA, on the other hand, workers are not legally entitled to any paid holiday at all. Generally, most US workers will receive at least 10 days paid vacation a year, but it’s a stark contrast to the amount businesses need to pay for in the UK.

As you can see, there are some key differences between UK and US businesses, and this is just for starters. If you’re considering international expansion, do thorough research and identify what else you need to learn.