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Business ideas from the USA: What we can learn from America

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From dishwasher to millionaire - belief in this promise is deeply anchored in the USA. And has produced an incomparably lively and experimental start-up scene. It is probably also due to the special mentality of the people that some of the most successful startups in the world emerged in the USA, of all places, whose business models have turned entire industries upside down. Europe, however, is far behind in this regard. So what can we learn from America?

Especially when it comes to the pioneering spirit and willingness to take risks, we can learn a few slices ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Don't let fear of failure paralyze you!

Unlike in Europe, in America the failure of a start-up project is not seen as the ultimate catastrophe. People are far more likely to have the courage to put an idea into practice than is the case in Germany in particular. If something doesn't work, something new is tried out. And then something new again. Until it finally works. If we let this attitude infect us a little and worried a little less, the number of startups in this country could certainly increase quickly.

A look across the Atlantic shows what kind of creative and novel concepts can emerge if you don't allow yourself to be thrown off course by people with concerns and paralyzed by fear of failure. We present some of the most exciting trends from the USA in this article. We also give you tips on how you can get inspiration from American role models for your own start-up.

What is the truth about the founding myth?

The founding stories of many large US companies are downright legendary. A garage with space to do handicrafts - that's all that sandpit friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen supposedly needed to found Microsoft, one of the most successful tech companies in the world, and to build a billion-dollar empire. More recently, it has even been possible to pull off the garage: The Airbnb and UBER examples show that it can also be done without. Apparently, only with a brilliant idea and the ingenious use of the new media, its founders succeeded in developing successful business models around the world that had previously seemed unthinkable and were intended to change the lives of millions of people.

Now these success stories are extraordinary, even by American standards. Naturally, the many stories of failures and defeats receive significantly less attention. But it is still worth taking a look across the pond if you are thinking of starting your own business. On the one hand, the attitude of many American founders can motivate us to approach our start-up ideas as daringly as they do. And on the other hand, we know that many trends from the USA will come to us sooner or later. So why not use the American startup scene as a rich source of business ideas that can also work in Europe in this way or in slightly different ways?

A trend with a future: sharing instead of owning

One example of a downright super trend that began in America and from there reached the European market is the so-called sharing economy. One of their prototypes is the aforementioned startup Airbnb, where hosts around the world share their guest rooms with globetrotters.

The unifying principle of the sharing economy: Instead of using resources alone, more and more households are relying on sharing or renting them. From Lego spaceships to miniskirts, from parking lots to drilling machines - the list of goods that can be used for a limited period of time is getting longer, even here in Germany. In the United States, however, sharing started earlier and is more widespread. In some metropolises on the west coast, you are already so far that you can rent or share a dog. And the sharing economy is not only on the rise in the private sector: Institutions and companies are also increasingly turning to purchasing rights of use instead of products (for example, they pay for an illuminated building and no longer for each individual light bulb).

The Internet plays an important role in the implementation of sharing concepts: neighbors used to lend each other tools. But the internet makes networking with a much larger number of people (and their resources) possible. In addition, online payments can be made conveniently without having to be embarrassed about pushing a banknote. And the evaluation options create trust despite anonymity.

For your own start-up project, you can now ask yourself the following question: To which products or services could the sharing idea be transferred? Maybe on fitness equipment, game consoles, hobby rooms or cherry trees? Just do the following mind game. Think of at least ten different endings for the following sentence: "I'm starting a kind of Airbnb for ..."

The sharing economy is just one example of a trend that originated in the USA and from there has conquered almost the entire world. What other developments are emerging on the American market that have the potential to become a hype here too? Do some research on the Internet, scour American business magazines, and read the latest US founding literature to find inspiration for your own business and identify the trends of tomorrow.

Three more inspiring trends from the USA

Regardless of whether you simply want to be inspired by your research or want to import an American business idea into Europe - to get you started, we have a small selection of American business trends that are currently particularly popular and successful. Perhaps one of them will grow into your own start-up project!


People are no longer buying their clothes in specialist shops, but rather order them over the Internet. The biggest disadvantage: there is no personal advice. This is where the idea of ​​online advice comes in, which is already very popular in the USA. Customers can use video chat to get advice from stylists on choosing the right outfit and the right size. This service is particularly popular with people who are not very fashion-savvy and do not feel like going shopping, but who still value being well dressed.

Providers who regularly supply their customers with trendy and individually tailored outfits go one step further and thus keep the tiresome problem of “What should I wear?” Off their backs once and for all.


The fitness trend is unbroken - in the USA as well as in Germany. It is becoming apparent that the most modern digital technology is being integrated more and more frequently. One example are online courses that allow you to work out from the comfort of your own home when you don't have the time or inclination to go to the gym. In addition, more and more smart fitness devices are gaining acceptance, such as fitness trackers for smartphones or fitness wristbands.

The inventiveness of American founders in the sports and health industries is enormous. If you want to start your own business in this field, you should definitely use the American market as a source of inspiration for your business idea.


In the food sector in particular, many new trends are emerging in the USA, from where they also stir up the European gastronomy scene. Many traditional goodies become big sellers as soon as they are spiced up with new flavors. Popcorn, for example, has been very popular in the USA since customers have been able to choose between flavors such as Thai curry or bitter orange.

Healthy nutrition is and will remain an issue. Cooking box providers have long recognized that many people would like to cook more for themselves, but the effort involved in planning and purchasing prevents them from doing so. The solution: pre-packaged and weighed ingredients including recipe by subscription to the house.
Admittedly, this trend is not entirely new. There are also some cooking box providers in Germany. But very few of them specialize in certain food trends. That can be a suitable niche for your start-up. Make sure, however, that this niche does not become too narrow: the German market is simply much, much smaller than the American one. Therefore, a specialization that works over there can simply not generate enough profit here.

Test and adapt proven ideas

Let's keep in mind: You don't necessarily have to come up with the idea for your company yourself. It can be at least as promising to adopt a trend or a concept from the USA and transfer it to a business model that is suitable for Germany. So if during your market research you come across a young US startup that you are enthusiastic about and whose concept you would like to implement, get down to business. If you don't waste time, you might even be one of the first to pick up on a new trend.

Despite all the enthusiasm, you shouldn't forget that not everything that works in the USA will also be a box-office hit on the European or German market. Sometimes the cultural and social differences are just too big. Check carefully whether and under what conditions a business model from the USA could be implemented in this country before you start implementing it. Talk to your German target group or just try out whether you can achieve a promising response with an advertising campaign via Google Ads. People's problems may be the same here as there - but the solutions that convince and inspire them can differ significantly.

Your success depends on how well your offer meets the needs of your target group. And they are not necessarily identical to those of American customers.

Importing ideas: these are the advantages and disadvantages

If you import the idea for your business formation from the USA, there are several advantages:

  • You already know that the planned business model works. It has already passed its first proof of concept on the American market.
  • This fact in turn increases the willingness of your financiers to get involved in the project. That should make it easier for you to get the necessary start-up capital.
  • You can learn from the experiences of your role model and do not have to repeat all the detours that your American founding colleagues may have had to make.
  • You save time, nerves and money, especially at the beginning, because you don't start from scratch when working on the concept, but can build on the thoughts of others.

But we don't want to hide the fact that "copying" and importing ideas can also have disadvantages:

  • Your founding idea is not really new. It is quite possible that customers prefer the original to the copy.
    The idea is not unique. The risk is high that the original company will expand internationally. Then it will be difficult for you to assert yourself against the competition that is already established on the market.
  • It can also happen that other founders in Germany follow the same strategy as you. This, too, can mean that you are faced with strong competition faster than expected.
  • The authors have probably protected themselves legally against theft of ideas. You should therefore check in good time whether you are violating international patent or trademark rights. Because that can be expensive and even mean the end of your start-up.
  • And finally, it all depends on whether your target audience shares your enthusiasm. Test as early as possible to see whether your import solution really works.

Better than the original?

If you copy a business idea that has been tried and tested in the United States, you can be sure of success. But you may have to live with the fact that your company is reviled as a copycat and that you have not only the original company, but also other imitators to compete.

You can minimize this risk by not just importing a business model, but changing it and adapting it to the market in Germany as well as to your individual situation. An idea may make good business sense - if it doesn't suit you and your skills, interests, and resources, you won't be happy with it. In addition, the more you modify your role model and make it your own idea, the less significant the disadvantages of copying will be.

If you have discovered an exciting idea on the American market that appeals to you, you should think about how you can refine it and adapt it to the cultural peculiarities of the German market on the one hand and to your individual inclinations and skills on the other. Can't you think of anything? Make use of tried and tested methods from the founding literature: On the start-up platform you will find a number of practical tips on how to find business ideas and systematically develop them further.

About the author

Jan Evers has dedicated itself body and soul to modern start-up funding. He is the managing director of the start-up BusinessPilot, which, together with the Federal Ministry of Economics and KfW, set up the start-up platform to make starting up a business in Germany easier and more digital. The start-up platform is publicly funded and is therefore free of charge for everyone.

[Photo Credit: Grumpy Old Man Studios by]