Are you a business located outside of the United States but you want to tap into the world’s 2nd-largest economy (over $20 trillion as of 2018 estimates)? If so, there are a number of tools that you need to do business in the United States. In this article, we’ll cover the 3 most important tools for doing business in the US.
While it is beyond the scope of this article to elaborate on the various methods that can be used to formally establish a business in the United States, you can consult this article on starting a US business for the particulars involved.
Virtual Phone Numbers
It may seem like online communication dominates how we interact with business but the truth is that there is no replacement for telephone communication. In fact, a large majority of customers in the United States prefer to handle transactions over the phone, especially when their information needs to be shared. Therefore, having a phone number for customers to reach your business is the first step.
However, when US-based customers and clients try to reach your business, they may not be able to complete the call. This is because not every consumer in the United States has the ability to dial long-distance to countries; or they may not feel that your business has made the effort to blend into the United States’ particular country code (+1) and various area codes (three digits preceding seven more digits, XXX-XXXX).
That’s where virtual phone numbers come in. By subscribing to a virtual phone number service provider, like Global Call Forwarding, you can use your preexisting phone numbers as the destination phone number, where calls from US virtual phone numbers will be forwarded instantly to your business (regardless of where your company is based). Virtual phone numbers are identical in function and look to “normal” US telephone numbers, so customers inherently trust the authenticity of your business. Furthermore, virtual phone numbers come in a variety of types, including US toll free numbers. By using these numbers, US-based customers can reach your business without being charged. Your customers will automatically feel a sense of security in the familiarity of your number resembling 800-numbers that make up the toll-free format of the North American Numbering System.
Online Collaboration Tools
Your virtual office should present a well-established business model to customers and clients, but it is what happens behind the scenes that can ensure your foreign business operates at its most efficient in the United States. This can include the hiring of subcontractors based in the United States, remote employees, and your domestic staff. Therefore, online collaboration tools (like Slack, Trello, and so forth) offer a way for you to create a virtual office that handles all of the traditional tasks and management of a “normal” office environment but allows for the versatility and efficiency of online technology. Having the ability to chat with employees can make sure that directions aren’t lost and that everything is handled in the same manner as a traditional office environment.
If you plan to work from abroad, you’ll need to be able to access your files instantly, no matter which country you work from. The same goes for your employees as well as remote and dedicated staff members that may need to move projects closer to completion. That’s why having a dedicated cloud storage service can help you do business in the United States.
Online cloud storage services can be thought of as an accessible form of an online filing cabinet. You can restrict access based on a user’s access privileges, such as providing US-based clients with documents they can access (i.e. terms of service, rules and regulations, etc.) vs. staff members that have complete access to mission-critical files. This can be crucial when dealing with remote employees, as you may have to some types of version-control documents to accommodate subcontractors and freelancers, as well as clients that play a direct role in your business.
Choosing an appropriate cloud storage service can be daunting, considering that Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud, and Dropbox all compete to handle your files. While many are free for several gigabytes of hosted data, enterprise solutions are available to boost the storage space and functionality. For instance, Dropbox allows you to be instantly notified when files have been changed, use “selective sync” to save space, instantly share screenshots, and so forth. Make sure to browse and compare all services to find the one that fits your organization’s needs.
by Tom Senkus
Author’s Bio: Tom Senkus is a US-based freelance writer and entrepreneur that conducts a variety of his business through a virtual office. For information and his list of services, visit tomsenkuswriter.com