Key Tips For American Businesses Operating In The UK

According to the United States chamber of commerce, around 42,000 U.S businesses export to the U.K, and up to 8,000 have actual business operations there.

If you operate in the U.K, you would have seen that a lot of business processes are the same. There’s a plus too, as business confidence is pretty high in the U.K at the moment. With that said, there are also differences which the average U.S business person might not know. Differences which could hurt your business, your reputation, or even your plans for expansion. Here are some key tips which can make your business operations in the U.K. run a lot more smoothly.

Accountancy and Tax

If you’re operating in other countries other than your home nation, it’s pretty obvious your tax affairs, as well as your general accounting, is going to become a little more complicated.

Most international businesses operating out of the U.K. have recently adopted the new lease accounting rules, requiring them to move all leases to the balance sheet with an asset, known as the right-of-use asset and a liability. It can be quite complicated if you aren’t up on your accounting practice (GAAP: generally accepted accounting practice). The likelihood is that you’ll either use an accountant, or seek accountancy advice but it’s good to know certain aspects of U.K. accountancy practice, especially if you’re going to file yourself.

Some owners start out doing it themselves and get tripped up when they come to the more complicated aspects of accountancy, but if you get to the point where you think you’re getting confused, it’s probably sensible to seek advice. It’s better to do that, or to at least carve out some time to properly read up on the subject, rather than make a nasty mistake which will cost your business money later on.

Logistical Considerations

The U.K. is a key target for successful American businesses who want to expand. The same language is spoken, with many cultural aspects shared between the two businesses. However, if your business involves physical aspects such as clothing products or food, you need to put a solid logistical plan in place. There’s over four thousand miles between the two countries. It’s often better to source suppliers in Europe rather than cart things over the Atlantic. The transportation network in the UK is brilliant, with key links via rail and ferry between the UK and the European mainland. With that said, it’s important to put in place a brilliant plan to deal with logistics. If you operate a service based business, this won’t be as much of an issue. Weigh up the costs of freight against producing your product in the U.K. You might be surprised, especially if you’re shipping heavy products.

U.K. Work Culture: Is There A Difference?

With the same language and a similar popular culture, you might think you don’t really need to pay much attention to slim culture differences. However, if you’re recruiting staff in the U.K, you need to understand that work culture differs. In the U.K.,there are a lot more laws on the side of the employee, such as guaranteed holiday days (28 day minimum including bank holidays). Also, work in the UK is generally more laid back. People don’t work as many hours. Having fun is all part of the experience though and socialising is a lot more common, but watch out for those blonde jokes and comments which may be construed as being a little risque. Also, in the UK there are a lot more unions giving more power to the employee. So long as you’re respectful as an employer, the likelihood is that you’ll be fine.

Software To Help You Succeed

Are you going to be there in person, overseeing everything? Or, are you going to stay in the states and control things from afar? Most business owners take a hands-on approach at first, only to step back later on. With that said, you’ll still want to keep a handle on what’s going on. Microsoft Teams can help you do this in real time, while ensuring the project is going smoothly. Remember, depending where you are in the states, there will be a significant time delay too, so try to work at a time that’s best for everyone. Aside from Teams, there are so many tools you can use to monitor work from afar, it’s just about being aware of them and working out whether they’re compatible. The key is having these embedded before so they’re ready to go, instead of you having to scramble to get it in place.

All in all, North American businesses have found great success in the U.K., but there’s no harm in ensuring success by informing yourself before you make the jump and investment. If you enter into the investment before conducting proper research you may end up making an expensive mistake which your business won’t thank you for.