How to transport a startup in the USA without unnecessary problems: four practical tips
Founder of a content marketing agency in global markets Smile bright media Alexander Lashkov shares unobvious advice on the transfer of business to America.
Today I will give some unobtrusive advice that will help to avoid many difficulties even at the stage of preparing the move, Alexander writes for Vc.ru.
Perhaps the most important point associated with moving to the United States. America is a country where everything revolves around money, prices are far from small, and you will pay at every turn. This applies to both ordinary life and the transfer of business.
What is interesting is that far from all publications on relocation receive sufficient 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).
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 $ 5000 to $ 10000. 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, accelerated consideration of an application for a visa O1 cost me more than a thousand dollars.
- The opening of the company. Despite the widespread belief that this can be done in a couple of hundred bucks from Russia, you are unlikely to spend less than $ 700- $ 1000, and you still have to sweat with document collection and search for working online services. Recommend Clerky, but it is necessary to understand that they break 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 is here 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 return (filing fee - $ 125).
As you can see, even without the cost of advertising and the development of the product itself, it will simply take $ 20000 to transfer business in the United States in the first year. 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.
Reinforce your visa position in advance.
I often come across the opinion that to move to America is “the main desire”. On the one hand, this is the case - those who need it move, but it’s clearly not worth simplifying everything to this phrase. One desire here will be not enough, you need to somehow convince the US state that you need to issue some kind of visa, different from a tourist one. And the options in recent years are becoming less and less.
Moving on an investor visa is huge for an ordinary person to use a L1 visa, you must have a business that has worked outside the US for several years (there are a number of other restrictions); 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.
Reach professionals to help with relocation and business
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, in our agency, we helped with the creation and publication of professional content to several professionals and business founders, who later used these materials as evidence of their extraordinaryness for the US migration service, 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.
Act outside the box
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 more complicated, as a result of which it is now the turn for an interview for a tour visa — it is most likely that you first need it — 300 to the consul in Moscow days
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.
Transferring business to the United States opens up tremendous opportunities - this is the largest market in the world, a country with a developed venture capital ecosystem, the society has an excellent image of an entrepreneur - they love such people, try not to put extra sticks in their wheels, build their business is prestigious. All this is not in the countries of the former USSR, so the desire of many entrepreneurs to move to America is obvious and logical.
However, one should not blindly believe articles on the Internet, where this country signs as a paradise on earth, where there are no problems and difficulties. There will be a lot of them on your way, much more than when working in your homeland.
You can overcome them with the right mood, having a financial cushion and connections with professionals who can help in various issues - from visa processing to promotion of the project and you as its founder.
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