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Written by:
Zoe Boyd

Expanding Your US-Based Company To Europe

Growing a business across continents is not an easy matter. Find out how you can expand without issue in our guide to moving into the European market.

At a certain stage in your company’s lifecycle, you might want to think about expanding. There are a number of ways to do this, from opening a branch in another state to simply hiring more staff at your current location. However, one option that is becoming more attractive for US companies looking to expand internationally is Europe.

Investment in the European market has skyrocketed in recent years. From 2010 to 2020 it rose from $11 billion to $49 billion, before more than doubling to $103 billion in 2021. Businesses are scaling into Europe faster than ever, all while expanding into more countries sooner. It’s clearly a good time to think about trying to expand across the Atlantic.

It’s easy to see why; Europe has a range of countries familiar with American businesses and with markets eager for American products. What’s more, the European workforce is talented, flexible and excellent value for money with the right recruitment strategy. Read on to find out more about expanding your business into this exciting market.


The Benefits Of Expanding Into Europe

So why expand into Europe in the first place? First of all, there’s the simple fact that it’s a large economy with significant purchasing power. The GDP of Europe is approximately $26.9 trillion; comparable with the US at $27.9 trillion. However, its citizens have slightly more available income, with Europe accounting for 20.7 percent of the world’s purchasing power compared to the USA’s 15.2 percent.

The market is also extremely diverse, with 44 countries speaking as many as 200 different languages. This diversity enables a wide range of business opportunities; however, there is a shared culture across Europe that means tactics for entering one part of the market can apply to others. This makes continued expansion easier than it might appear at first.

Europe’s workforce is another major benefit. Approximately 44 percent of workers in the EU are classed as “highly skilled”, which encompasses managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals.

While recruitment across borders can be an issue, countries that are part of the EU have a much easier time hiring staff from other EU nations. With 92 percent of the population having access to the internet, remote work is also easy to set up and implement.


The Challenges Of European Expansion For US Companies

As with any business move, entering Europe comes with its own share of challenges. US companies looking to expand internationally need to carefully consider these factors if they want to join the European market without issue.

One major issue is the large legal and regulatory differences between Europe and the US. Each country will have its own laws and regulations on employment and business, and while the EU has enabled a certain amount of standardisation there are still some significant differences.

Any US company looking to hire staff in Europe will need to check they can meet the requirements for things like minimum wage, employee benefits, tax contributions and more. Careful navigation of this system can still be more cost-effective than hiring US workers, but it would be a mistake to assume things worked the same way as they do in America.

There are also cultural differences to take into account. Your product or service might be perfect for the American market, but depending on where you go in Europe it might need some tweaks. Even small things such as what hours people expect to work and the expected etiquette for business meetings can have a big impact on your success.

As an international recruitment agency, we’ve put our expertise to good use and the country directors have produced specialist guides for hiring in European countries. Learn everything you need to know about hiring in France, Poland, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, and recruiting in the Netherlands.


Conducting Thorough Market Research

In order to avoid falling into the above traps, it is necessary to conduct thorough market research. Here are some of the things you should consider when expanding into Europe:

  • Business regulations
    What will be expected of your business when you move into a new country? Will you need to match employee pension contributions, provide a certain amount of maternity leave or meet environmental standards? You should be fully informed of the regulatory situation before you make the move.
  • Audience sensibilities
    What does your target market expect from a business? Are they looking for a high-quality product, or do they prefer value for money? What services are in demand? Check to see what changes you need to make to your offering to meet European needs.
  • Marketing expectations
    How will you market yourself to a European audience? This covers everything from overall strategy to smaller things like the language you use for your offering. Check that there are no issues, such as product names that have a different meaning in the local language.
  • Talent pools
    Your business in Europe will need to be staffed, and the availability of talent could play a major role in where you expand. You will need to assess the talent pools in your potential locations to see if you will be able to take on the skilled and experienced employees your business needs.


Successful US Company That Expanded To Europe

When done well, a move to Europe can be extremely beneficial. One business that expanded successfully across the Atlantic is Etsy, which originated in New York in 2005.

In 2012, when the company was still relatively small, the ecommerce business decided to open an office in Dublin in order to move into Europe.

One of the strategies for Etsy’s expansion was to partner with local bloggers and other influencers in order to test the waters and build anticipation among its target markets. Following this, the company focused on bringing sellers on board and ensuring the website was optimised to succeed amongst local audiences.

The main challenge for the company was translating their site – and many product descriptions – into local languages. Again, partnering with local talent was the answer. One key component of this was making sure cultural nuances weren’t missed; for example, stating that the site accepted Discover cards would have marked them out clearly as American and potentially put off European customers.

Expanding into Europe is no easy task. However, with the right strategy – and potentially the right partnerships with local companies – it can prove to be an extremely successful business move.


About Allen Recruitment

Allen Recruitment Consulting is an international recruitment consultancy with offices in Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Sweden, Belgium and Poland, providing recruitment solutions and job opportunities all over Europe and more. Our country directors are specialists at working with US companies looking to hire in Europe.

A full-service recruitment consultancy offering temporary, permanent, contract and contingency roles in a variety of industries such as IT, Tech, Finance, Telecom, E-commerce, Engineering and more.


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