The USA is the largest economy in the world, accounting for almost a quarter of GDP globally. It has strong trade links with Canada, Mexico and China. The USA is also the world’s most heavily invested-into country, receiving US$2.58 trillion in foreign investment in 2010. As well as having a huge economy, the USA is widely recognised as being very supportive of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Ethnic groups: White (includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish) 72 percent, mixed race
2.9 percent, black 12.6 percent, Asian 4.8 percent, other 7.7 percent
Language: English, although a wide variety of European and Hispanic languages spoken.
Capital: Washington DC
Currency: US Dollar
National Holidays: New Year's Day (Jan1), Martin Luther King Day (Jan17), Washingtons Birthday (Feb 21), Memorial Day (May 30), Independence Day (Jul 4), Labor Day (Sep 5), Columbus Day (Oct 10), Veterans Day (Nov 11), Thanksgiving (4th Thurs of Nov), Christmas Day (Dec 25)
Business hours: Office/Government: varies by State but generally 8am to 5pm; Retail: again, depends on the State. Some States still do no permit widespread Sunday opening. Some smaller stores open 24 hours.
American Ambassador Louis Susman
told inspiresme.co.uk: “President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron said it best in their joint op-ed on the eve of the recent State Visit. ‘Governments do not create jobs: bold people and innovative businesses do… The US and the UK have proud traditions of out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world - and of doing it together…and we want to encourage more of this exchange of capital, goods and ideas.’ “
People tend to be more to the point in the USA than in Britain, which can be seen as aggressive although it will not be intended to seem so – people often like to be direct so as not to waste time. In the USA conversation is often very open so personal subjects may be discussed.
Governments do not create jobs: bold people and innovative businesses do…
Punctuality is incredibly important in the USA – appointments are expected to occur right on time. Meetings should never be interrupted so always turn your mobile phone off.
Americans have a very scientific approach to business so expect everything to be analysed, quantified and assessed. Business structures may vary – some companies will be more hierarchical than others.
The CEO of a company is hugely important and in charge of the day-to-day running of a company. The CEO will take full responsibility for the results of a company, whether they are good or bad. Americans tend to like accountability – they like to know where they stand in a business, what their responsibilities are and who they are required to report to.
The management style in America is quite individualistic, and managers are always held responsible for their decisions. As managers hold ultimate responsibility decisions ultimately lie with them and they are more likely to disregard the opinions of others than managers in some countries.
Women are treated very equally in American companies, and it is more common to find women in senior roles than it is in many other countries.
Meetings in the USA have often been described as aggressive or confrontational – however, this is seen as a positive approach in America, although many cultures are not used to this style. Presentations often occur by one or more participants during a meeting. Presentations should be well researched and well-delivered.
Gift giving is not common in business in the USA and is usually discouraged.
Teamwork is very common in the USA. Everyone is expected to be fully committed to meeting goals and to be dedicated. People are expected to be able to transition between projects and teams with great ease.
The dress code varies hugely across America. For traditional companies it will usually be a suit and tie although many large companies are much less formal. Although a vague rule is that dress codes become less formal as you travel further west, it would be wise to check before leaving.