A guide to getting set up in the US

This post is designed for people who are about to set up their business in the US, or are in their first year or so.

I myself did this change nearing six years ago – and have ended up sharing my learnings (and others) each year with entrepreneurs from all around the world. So thought I’d share, here. As frankly it’s a little bit more scalable.

If this resource is helpful, please do bookmark, share, forward on and contribute by tweeting me. The people that are bold and courageous to go to another country and start from scratch, are the ones we should all support.

Recently I spoke at an event for the NZ Consulate, here’s the slides.

Cultural differences

It’s worth exploring the cultural differences between your home country and the US. We tend to think we know the US. But it can gloss over a bunch. For example, New Zealand is as culturally different to the US as Hong Kong is. Which I wouldn’t expect.

A quick google here, will usually put things to the top.


With these links, for services I have used and verified, I’ve used an affiliate link. Which means IF you also use them and they are helpful, I get a remunerated. Which helps me reinvest more in this page etc etc.

  • For transferring money, TransferWise is super helpful. And fast. Saves thousands.
  • For registering you company, BizFilings helps. Stripe Atlas also has a programme (for more tech centric platforms).
  • For payroll, Gusto, JustWorks or Oscar (for individuals).
  • For visa lawyers, GTLaw have done us well.
  • For rental guarantees, haven’t used first hand (we just did a big bond) but Insurent is a service. Whilst you build credit record.

How to build your credit record

  • Start by getting a secured credit card, at a lower limit. Then use that for 6-9 months.
  • If possible you can get two. Also your spouse too if you can.
  • We used a US Bank Secure card. But there are plenty out there now.

Spousal support

This is the one EVERYONE brings up after a couple of drinks. This process isn’t easy on relationships. But you have decided to make the leap together.

It’s particularly challenging, if one is in the business and the other is looking to find a job, or staying at home.

Each of you are having two completely different experiences in this wild new world.

Exasperated by the long hours or exhaustion of getting set up from scratch again.

But this is an exciting new adventure, to grow together, to learn new things. And it’ll be now, during this time, that time together will be the most important. Keep that in mind, it’s a wild journey for both. The same as you are investing in a new country, make sure to invest in your relationships.

To add/updates to this page

A worksheet, or todo list that’s downloadable. Or see if someone has created one already.

Pull out the top reads from the presentation.

Do the top observations.