How to transport your startup to the USA: 4 important steps
Recently, I talked about the difficulties that can be encountered in the development of business in America. However, in that article I did not mention that they begin at the stage when you decide to move and transfer your projects to a new country. Today we will talk about what needs to be done to successfully overcome all the initial difficulties.
Step # 1: Create an Airbag
America is a country where everything revolves around money. You, as a foreigner who does not understand the local subtleties, will pay for everything at every step around the clock. The amount of the minimum cost that everyone in the United States will experience at first will be shocking - for example, a visit by a plumber who cleans a clogged toilet can easily cost $ 300. Organizational aspects in the transport of business will require even greater costs.
Far from all publications about moving, this moment is given enough attention. You can usually read that here many business related procedures are done online and are inexpensive. A classic example is the remote opening of a company for a couple of hundred bucks via Stripe Atlas, which only the lazy one did not write about, and which, in fact, is impossible today - the service does not work with Russian citizens.
Here is just a small list of expenses that awaits you and your company in the first year of life in the United States:
- Preparation of documents for the visa . This can not be done without a lawyer, and the services of an experienced lawyer will cost from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000. At the same time, a couple of thousand more can go in the form of various fees of state bodies for considering a package of documents. For example, the accelerated processing of an application for an O1 visa cost me over a thousand dollars.
- The opening of the company . Despite the common time that you can do it for a couple of hundred bucks from Russia, you are unlikely to spend less than $ 700- $ 1000, and you still have to sweat with the collection of documents and search for working online services. I recommend Clerky , but you have to understand that they break up the process into stages and take money for each, without explaining very clearly how much what stage of the work is worth.
- Payment office . Even if you don’t need an office, and you work from home, a startup will need a mailing address. To get this address in WeWork coworking, you need to pay a subscription for at least one person. For example, in San Francisco it will cost $ 450 per month + $ 70 / month for the mailing address itself, in other cities it may be cheaper, but nonetheless.
- Accounting . You can conduct it yourself or hire a licensed accountant (CPA, certified public accountant). Here are the prices for the popular accounting software Quickbooks. Plus work with the CPA, that the services of an accountant already includes a license for the program. Report preparation and payroll management will cost you at least $ 2000 / year.
- Taxes . Even if you do not immediately carry out activities and earn a lot in the States, you will have to pay some taxes. For example, if you have a corporation in Delaware - a very common option for startups - at least you will need to pay a franchise tax ( calculated differently , usually around $ 400-450) and submit an annual report (filing fee - $ 125).
As you can see, even without the cost of advertising and the development of the product itself, simply transferring business to the United States in the first year will take about $ 20,000. This is on condition that only one of the founders initially moves, otherwise you will have to add the cost of preparing another visa case.
Of course, the cost of living will be even higher - you will have to rent an apartment, buy a car (in many US cities without it, there is no life, and you will not be given a loan or lease without a credit history), to buy medical insurance at least for children, if they exist. The cost of food, mobile communications and the Internet in America will also be higher than in Russia. All this needs to be taken into account, so the more money and contracts that guarantee payments from customers, you will have before the move, the better.
Step # 2: Collecting materials to strengthen positions when requesting a visa
I often come across the opinion that to move to America is “the main desire”. In fact, that is far from enough. Even the presence of a large amount of money will not save, because you still need to somehow convince the US state that you should issue some kind of visa, different from a tourist one. The list of available options is not so great, and every year the requirements are tightened.
Moving under an investor visa costs huge money for an ordinary person; to use an L1 visa, you must have a business that has been working outside the US for several years (there are a number of other restrictions), to obtain an O1 visa you need to collect a significant package of documents proving your professional consistency.
It is this visa that has become quite popular among startups from Russia in recent years, because, despite the difficulty of obtaining it, it has quite good conditions. Again, one desire to get it will be enough. You need to have publicly recorded and verifiable evidence of professional "coolness." These include speaking at conferences, membership in professional guilds and communities where everyone does not take them, professional awards, participation in the jury of professional competitions and so on.
Not all professionals think about the importance of such public footprints during their careers, but with regard to moving to the USA, this is very important. Therefore, if you think that someday you may want to live and work in this country - start working on strengthening your future visa case in advance.
Step # 3: Search for experts to help with the move
Independently cope with such a difficult task as transferring a business to another country is very difficult. You will need the help of professionals at all stages of development. For example, you should not spend time preparing documents for a visa without the help of an experienced lawyer - so the probability of failure will increase many times. A professional will tell you what points in your appeal should be strengthened, will recommend steps to correct the shortcomings, fill all the papers correctly - with this approach the probability of errors and their negative consequences is reduced.
Returning to the public traces of professional activity described above - their cooperation with experts in the field of PR and marketing will help emphasize them. The more mentions about you, your projects and skills can be found in the media - the better. For example, I helped several professionals and business founders, who later used these materials as evidence of their extraordinaryness for the US migration service, with the creation and publication of professional content, and successfully moved.
After the move, you also should not try to solve all the problems on your own - at least, accounting questions for the first time should be delegated to a licensed professional. In my experience, it’s often just no time to delve into all the issues in the first year of work; it’s also difficult to deal with the nuances of tax calculations, filing returns, and payroll. What to say about this, if sometimes it is difficult to distinguish spam that came in the mail from a really important document from government agencies - you simply need an assistant to whom you can turn to for advice on various issues.
Step # 4: Finding Non-Standard Workarounds
Not so long ago, I saw in a Facebook feed, as one of the startups complained that the bloody regime did not allow him to get a visa to the United States. It was meant that due to deteriorated relations between our countries in the last year and a half, the process of signing up for an interview became much more complicated, with the result that now the turn for an interview to the consul in Moscow is 11 months.
The fact is that when you move and transfer business in the United States with such obstacles you will face all the time, so you need to be ready for them and act outside the box.
For example, for the same visa interviews have already created specialized bots that monitor the release slots for recording, and instantly submit applications. As a result, instead of many months, you can get an interview in a couple of weeks - it’s easy to find such programs on sites like the Vinsky forum. A couple of extra thousand rubles, and all the difficulties of interstate relations can be perfectly circumvented.
Do not blindly believe articles on the Internet, in which the United States signs as a paradise on earth, where there are no problems and difficulties. There will be many of them on your way, much more than when working in your homeland. You can overcome them with the right mood, the presence of a financial pillow and connections with professionals in various fields. Thank you for your attention, I will be glad to answer questions in the comments.
My other articles on business management and promotion in the USA:
- Personal experience: as an IT specialist, move to work in the USA, relying only on himself
- Reputation, work and emigration: how to use company promotion tools to solve personal problems
- Pros and cons of doing business in the United States: observations after a year of development of their company
- Personal experience: Five difficulties in starting a business in the USA
- How to save money when starting a business in the USA: company registration, office, accounting and promotion
- How to talk for free about your startup in foreign media with a million audience: difficulties and ways to circumvent them
- Promotion of a startup abroad: how to reach hundreds of thousands of English-speaking readers with the help of Medium