The United States offers a vast and diverse market for UK businesses looking to expand their operations. 

Favourable currency exchange rates are making goods and services from the UK even more attractive. However, navigating the complex regulatory landscape and choosing the right entry point or location to set up shop can be overwhelming.

Womble Bond Dickinson's (WBD) Growing Global series offers insights and practical legal guidance for business leaders navigating global business challenges.

Following the firm's global board meeting in September, transatlantic partners of the firm came together at the firm's Newcastle office for a panel event for businesses who are either looking to enter or grow in the US market chaired by UK partner and international trade specialist Peter Snaith.

In addition, US partner Masami Izumida Tyson also provided advice on how to maximise business within America as part of a wider cross-business panel in Bristol, highlighting key states to begin growth in as well as key factors to look at when contemplating exiting the US market.

US partners Christopher Jones (business litigation), Dr Christian Mammen (IP litigation), Dean Rutley (corporate mergers, acquisitions, and cross-border transactions), and UK partner Sarah Daun (commercial) also shared their experiences of helping businesses break into or expand in the US market.

So what were the key points, and what should businesses be focusing on when expanding to the US?

Choosing the right location

Understand your business needs - Each US state has its advantages and disadvantages. Assess your business's specific needs and determine which state offers the most benefits.

Consider popular choices - Delaware is a common choice for international businesses to incorporate due to its business-friendly legal framework, flexible M&A procedures, and tax benefits. Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas are also attractive options due to their non-union status, reducing the risk of union strikes.

Balance incorporation and operation locations - It is possible to incorporate in one state, such as Delaware, and operate in another where conditions may be more favourable. Consider the tax implications and operational convenience when making this decision.

Competing states and legal considerations

Be aware of state competition - US states compete for foreign businesses through favourable tax schemes and promoting their business climate and location. This competition can be advantageous for UK businesses looking to enter the market.

Manage legal risks - While some states are considered dangerous for businesses, these risks can be managed with the right legal advice and contract protections. Include shields, such as limitation of liability clauses, in contracts to protect your business.

Market entry strategies

Assess various entry routes - UK businesses can enter the US market through various routes, such as setting up a subsidiary, hiring a sales force, forming a joint venture, or licensing with a US company. Each option has its pros and cons, so choose the one that best aligns with your business objectives.

Consider industry regulations - Some industries, such as banking, insurance, and telecoms, are highly regulated, making it more challenging to enter the market. Less regulated industries, like software, may offer easier market penetration.

The impact of a free trade agreement

While a free trade agreement between the UK and the US could be beneficial, the current absence of such an agreement has not stopped UK companies from entering the US market. Existing economic treaties and relationships provide a foundation for trade, and the impact of a new agreement may not be significant.

Choosing California for software businesses

California is a popular choice for software and tech businesses due to the abundance of venture capital investment. However, if your business does not require venture capital, other states may offer less regulatory restrictions and more suitable environments.

The event was the first in a wider upcoming programme as part of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Growing Global series, which examines how companies and organizations compete and thrive in an increasingly global marketplace.

If your business is interested in learning how to take the next steps globally, please contact our team at to register for upcoming sessions.

This article is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice.