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How to Start a Business Aimed at a European Market

Although it may sound a bit confusing at first, the one thing you need to keep in mind is that you probably aren't going to start a business in Europe - unless, however, you have a business here that you are trying to expand into the European market, but that isn't what you are looking to accomplish at the moment.

You want to start a business here in the United States with your key market/audience being in Europe. There is a very real difference so, for the time being, let's focus on starting a U.S. business aimed at a European audience. Here's some of what you need to know.

If You Are a Startup

As a startup, the first thing you need to do is find a name that is free in your state and also one that will garner attention. You may ask what's in a name? The short answer (as well as the long one!) is everything! Your name will be your brand, and if you want to become nothing less than a household word, that name is going to be all important. There are services like those offered on that conduct a business name search in your state so that you know there will be no conflict of interests and no legal battles down the road. Finding a name that is free and clear and your intellectual property may be trickier than you think, so do get help because this is where help is needed!

Registering in Your State

Again, remember that you probably aren't going to register to do business as a business entity in a European country. Your 'home base' will be in your state, or states where you choose to register, but your market will be abroad. Don't worry about anything other than foreign trade markets, and a good business attorney can help you weed through the bureaucratic red tape. For the most part, you will probably be selling your products or services online, so the hoops you would otherwise be required to jump through will be limited. If you find that the market for your products is bigger than you had anticipated, you can always open a branch in one or more EU countries at some later date. For now, keep it manageable here in your home state.

Choose Your European Markets Carefully

If you are new to the world of business, the one thing you may want to learn as much as possible about is what is referred to as the "USP". This is the Unique Selling Proposition and it simply boils down to whether or not there is a market for your product line in any given market. What makes your products unique, and will there actually be a market for them abroad? Bear in mind that some countries are cultural polar opposites to our markets here in the States, so choose your European markets carefully. Target those where you feel you have the greatest USP advantage.

Your key takeaway is that you are NOT starting a European business, but rather a business registered in the United States. Therefore, all your registrations and licenses will be specific to your state and your industry. Keep it simple in the beginning until you get a better sense of European audiences. In other words, register here and do business there. How much simpler can it get?

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