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kv Blogs
23 June 2015

Why the English should be more American in their approach

Britain is a country famous for its history, The Queen, cricket and high tea, to name a few. I thoroughly enjoy my trips there and recently opened an office in London which gives me an excuse to spend more time in England’s vibrant and historic capital. However, this increased exposure has caused me to notice the stark contrast between how the Brits and their US counterparts operate in business.

The English are incredibly polite which is all well and good until you are running out of time to seal the deal and you just want to get to the point. I have experienced social and business situations in England where people will skirt around the issue just to avoid damaging people’s feelings. Conversely, the American’s are as direct as they come. This is a valuable attribute in business because it saves time; an asset that is becoming increasingly scarce. I like to know where I stand with my clients and customers because it allows a more productive relationship, which pays off for all parties.

I also think that the British need to be more emotional. The stereotypical stiff upper lip and traditional formalities are rather outdated. The growth of both the UK and US economies need to be boosted by entrepreneurial activity and by operating in an old-fashioned manner will hinder the development of potential young business people.

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Overall I feel that Americans are much more entrepreneurial by nature. The USA is so big, but it’s a consolidated market. It’s easier to launch an idea and get users, whereas Europe is so fragmented; it’s harder from the start. It has taken the British government a while to realise that enforcing policies to encourage entrepreneurship will help the progression of the entire economy. David Cameron last year introduced some positive policies that extend small business rate relief including a 230% increase in research and development tax credit for SMEs and a £45m package to boost exports, however, this has been a long time coming but I am pleased that the UK is moving in the right direction.

America really is “the land of opportunity”. Everywhere you go I hear of people wanting to succeed and there really is a positive attitude around being able to achieve your goals. American’s use far more motivational language and their optimistic outlook often means you get a better reaction to new ideas and people are far more open to change. These factors really lend themselves to producing an ideal environment for entrepreneurs to succeed. Compared to England this is particularly relevant to creative industries such as music and entertainment, it is far easier to get traction on the commerce side.

Then there is the holiday allowance. British people receive twice as much holiday than Americans. It frustrates me that offices in the UK seem to shut down for the whole of August and over the Christmas holiday period. I do think the US holiday allowance is slightly too low, but time is incredibly valuable and the disparity in annual leave obviously puts Britain at an immediate disadvantage; individuals are missing out on time to make money. Evidence shows that US economy is experiencing an exceptional period of evolution compared to the UK. The economy is growing at its fastest pace in a decade with GDP at 5%, so the UK can’t afford to waste time.

Last year The Spectator reported that if Britain were to somehow leave the EU and join the US it’d be the 2nd-poorest state in the union – poorer than Missouri, Kansas and Alabama. Poorer than any state except for Mississippi, and if you take out the south east the UK would be poorer than that too suggesting that the Brits desperately need to take a leaf out the American business book.

When it comes to SMEs the UK are particularly lagging behind the USA when it comes to access to capital.

  • The UK lags over 20 index points – out of 100 – behind the US in entrepreneurial aspirations.
  • In Europe 80% of SME funding comes from banks compared to 18% in the USA.
  • Of the largest 100 companies in the world created since 1975, 26 are from California and there is only 1 from Europe.

I do not mean to say that the Americans do not have their own flaws when it comes to business. However, I do believe that their behaviour and attitudes are ideal for proactive commercial activity and facilitating the establishment of small companies, which in turn boost the economy. As the business world continues to evolve on a global scale, the way people approach business will have to become more uniform to avoid conflict and ensure consistency. The American style may well be the best approach.