[caption id="attachment_1772" align="alignright" width="300"]Statue Of Liberty Against A Golden Sky Statue Of Liberty Against A Golden Sky[/caption] There is nothing uniquely American about the concept of family business.  Families have operated businesses in every nation of the world, and some cultures are well known for fostering and depending on family businesses. So, what should an immigrant family know before it opens up business in the United States?   First, be aware of the plethora of laws to which your business will be subject.

Some of these include business licensing laws at the state and local level; commercial codes; product safety requirements; employment laws at the federal, state and local level that govern the wages of your employees, the hours they may work without being paid overtime, and workplace standards for respecting race, religion, gender, national origin and sexual orientation; and landlord-tenant laws.

Second, be prepared to align your business practices not only with your family’s culture and values, but also with the expectations of your customers or clients.

Setting high standards of service and integrity makes sense in any business.

Third, be prepared to recognize the differences in working with Americans.

Compared to customers and clients in other cultures, Americans can be demanding (and, if things go wrong, litigious).

Fourth, recognize that you will need knowledgeable advisors in order to navigate the American business landscape.

A good lawyer can help you recognize the laws that apply to you, a good accountant can help you with your federal, state and local taxes, and you may even wish to engage a business or marketing consultant who can help you avoid early mistakes in diagnosing your industry vertical and your business plan.

Certain business activities are more highly regulated compared to others.  Some require special licenses or permits.  The keys are to know the business landscape in advance and give yourself the absolute best opportunity for success.   Keith Baldwin is a business transactions and securities lawyer with a thirty-eight year history of serving clients’ legal needs. Keith focuses his practice on business relationships, including mergers and acquisitions, agreements among owner-entrepreneurs, and best practices for corporate governance. Keith can be reached via email at keithbaldwin@dwt.com or directly at 425.646.6133.