Paddling versus Swimming  Across the Pond – the US-expansion conundrum




Before you decide to enjoy the many opportunities from swimming freely and profitably in the many waters ‘across the pond’ in the US – you should have a good understanding of how deep you want to go. So do you just want to paddle on the surface – or do you want to glide deeply in these lucrative North American waters?

If you want really to go swimmingly you’ll need to have a good handle on who you want to do business with, where they are located, and what investment you’ll need to make, in terms of capital, labor, and physical assets (e.g., plants, offices, shared space, equipment, etc.).

The Shores of Industry

Both coasts of the U.S., as well as the top and bottom borders, boast the support of a wide range of industries, which is one of the many reasons that you’re considering a U.S. expansion strategy. While the size of the country is impressive, you should take into account the fact that 58% of the U.S. population across 26 states live East of the Mississippi River. Consequently, the breadth of industries is much greater and more established than in the Midwest or West Coast. That’s boosted by the number of deepwater port options which facilitate improved import/export and supply chain activities. From a professional services standpoint, the East Coast is home to Washington DC, home of the US Federal Government. This translates to heavy concentrations in critical industry sectors such as technology, healthcare & life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.

Talent Wave Pools

At present, unemployment in the US is in the single digits once again. That said, job openings exceed 10 million as the labor market imbalance widens (per RSM 5/31/23). This translates into the need to be more selective in where you can find great talent once you’ve begun securing new business. Rural areas are typically where most manufacturers and distributors call home. Unfortunately, they’re the areas where finding good workers is most difficult. So, depending on what you do, selecting an area that will provide you with access to capable and willing workers should be strongly encouraged. Areas with high concentrations of quality colleges, universities, and trade schools, and to Veterans, will help lessen that burden. For example, Virginia has the #1 Highest Top Tech Talent Pipeline in the U.S., #2 Top State for Higher Education, and 2nd largest computer and math workforce in the U.S. (California and Texas used to be in the top two spots until recent rounds of layoffs.)

Freshwater vs. Saltwater?

As you know, the US is comprised of 50 states + several territories. And within each of these states, there are differences in dialect, culture, wealth, labor quality and access, government support, and industry focus, just to name a few.

For example, in the Greater Washington DC area which includes Virginia, Maryland, and the Nation’s Capital, Washington DC, over 30% of all businesses do business with the Federal Government in some capacity. It also has the largest concentration of Associations and a number of attorneys in the country, plus Amazon’s HQ 2 campus. In Ashburn, VA (Northern Virginia), 73% of all the world’s internet traffic flows through their data centers, so expect the presence of lots of technology companies across the spectrum to call it home. Or in Huntsville, Alabama, and Cape Canaveral, Florida – a heavy aerospace industry can be found there. San Diego, California, and Norfolk, Virginia have high concentrations of shipbuilding and import/export activities. Technology hubs are in Austin Texas and Boston, Massachusetts, and, of course, San Francisco, California. Certain parts of Ohio and Wisconsin and North Carolina have renowned hospital and healthcare systems. The list goes on.

Decision Time: knee-high wade in or front-flip off the diving board?

So many factors to consider and none to be taken lightly. That’s why it’s important to get the right information and assistance from those who know the market. That could be in the form of a Market Expansion Report by market (the knee-high wade-in) through a firm or firm set that can facilitate business development and a comfortable and soft landing (front flip into the deep end of the pool). Using the right partners will be critical to a successful plan and eventual execution. The GTM Global team and their affiliated consortium can be that conduit. Check out their upcoming North American expansion workshops to directly connect with a host of in-country experts.

Crossing the pond can be challenging – finding the right bridge shouldn’t have to be. Be curious and thorough and don’t forget to use your sunscreen.


Robert Gangi
Robert Gangi
Former Citibank Commercial RM and current business consulting practice owner with a robust network, strong connections, and a vibrant Advisory Board.