Written by Amy Baker,
Last Modified: 16th March 2017

Are you hoping to start a business in the USA? If so, today we look at the steps involved in the process.

Thanks to Hollywood, many of us have grown up with a clear idea of the American Dream – that every American has an equal chance at achieving even the highest aspirations and goals. Anyone who has achieved the American Dream for themselves will tell you that if you want to succeed, you have to work and keeping on working, until you reach the your end goal. If you dream of moving to the USA to start your own business empire, there’s no time to dilly-dally so let’s take a look at the steps involved in the process.

Anyone who has achieved the American Dream for themselves will tell you that if you want to succeed, you have to work and keeping on working, until you reach the your end goal.

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Is now a good time to start a business?

When considering some of the trends predicted for 2017 by US business owners and entrepreneurs, the outlook seems to be mostly positive. One quoted business owner, Carla Freberg, of Balboa Capital said: “In 2017, increased confidence among small business owners regarding the economy and their overall performance could lead to trends in business investment. Both the economy and stock market have shown signs of strength during the final weeks of 2016, and this helps increase business owner optimism.”

Trump’s aim to “Make America Great Again” relates to stimulating the economy and helping people to find employment, and as new businesses help to do exactly that, obstacles and red tape should be cleared from your way as his policies take shape.

Can I get a business visa?

If you’re planning on starting your own business empire in the USA, chances are you plan on being around on a permanent basis to run the show, in which instance you’ll need a visa. There are a couple of options available to you. Which is suitable will depend on your circumstances:

L-1A Visa

This works for those who have established a business outside of the USA that they want to incorporate into the US. To be eligible, your business needs to have been trading for a minimum of 12 months and have four or more employees. Find more information on this visa here.

E-2 Visa

If, like above, you have an existing business, but it has been operating for less than 12 months, the E-2 could work for you. Likewise, if you haven’t started a business but are interested in moving to the US to do just that – this is the best visa option for you. The E-2 allows you to move to the US on a permanent basis as you are investing a significant sum to allow you to do so. You will be able to remain in the USA as long as your business remains operational, but the onus will fall on you to renew your status every two years. Your business must be able to support you and your immediate family, while contributing to the US economy. You can find more information on this visa here.


Are you moving to the USA in pursuit of The American Dream?


Steps involved in starting your own business

Step 1 – Write a business plan

Just because you’re starting a business in another country doesn’t mean you can skip the important stages of inception you would be expected to follow in the UK. You must conduct the necessary market research and put in the due diligence to understanding your aims and clearly outlining them for potential funders.

Step 2 – Determine your business structure

What kind of business do you want to run: a limited liability company, a cooperative, a sole proprietorship? You must determine the correct business structure from day one, as the one you select will have specific tax and legal implications in the USA.

Step 3 – Register your business

The next step is to choose a name, register it as a business, and then register it within the state you’ll be conducting business in.

Step 4 – Choose a location

To be able to complete step three, you’ll need to know where you plan on conducting business. Each state has different rules and tax implications for business owners. If you’re unsure of where to set up shop, you’ll need to conduct considerable research on where the business is most likely to succeed. Look at where you can receive the best tax breaks, the best cost of living, and where you’re most likely to find the employees you need to make your business a success.

Step 5 – Licences and permits

As mentioned, which licenses and permits you’ll require will depend on which state you’re located in and the nature of your business. Always consult a lawyer to ensure you know which licenses and permits apply to you. Without these, your business cannot operate legally.

Step 6 – Educate yourself on business law

Unless you’ve opened multiple businesses in the UK, we’re sure that some business laws still come as a surprise to you. Business law in the USA is no different, plus you have the added disadvantage of having no background knowledge. It’s important to educate yourself on how things operate, and to seek to the services of a trusted business law expert who can guide you.

It’s important to educate yourself on how things operate, and to seek to the services of a trusted business law expert who can guide you.

Step 7 – Business financials

On top of your own personal fund, there are many ways to fund a business that you should consider – venture capital, government loans, and research grants are a good place to start. It’s also important to understand your tax liabilities fully – we recommend employing the services of a tax expert. You will need to take out insurance to cover your business. Consult an insurance specialist to ensure you have the right policy, for you and for your employees.

Step 8 – Hiring employees

Before you employ anyone you need to make sure that you educate yourself on employer relations, and the legal steps involved in hiring people.

Always seek out professional help

Because of all of the different hoops you’ll have to jump through to realise your dreams of starting a business in the US, it’s important that you seek the right advice from people who have intricate knowledge of helping others do the same. We recommend seeking the services of an experienced attorney to walk you through the process, and to help you avoid making any mistakes. For more advice, refer to SCORE, a non-profit organisation located all around the US that offers advice to small businesses.

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