Meet Susan Combs. A Mizzou Tiger, a half-marathoner, a public speaker, and an active sports enthusiast. She’s also a super hero of sorts as she battles against the labyrinth of pitfalls and particularities that dot the US business landscape. In fact, she is also known as the Insurance Vixen.
Nor is Combs & Company LLC your typical insurance broker. In fact, both Susan and her company buck the stereotypes that are usually associated with insurance brokerages. They specialize in clients from the hospitality and entertainment industries, as well as being aficionados in helping international companies expanding into the United States.
Enter Amcham Finland. And the LaunchpadUSA program, of course.
The Combs & Company approach? If you don’t know insurance, know your broker.
“My passion is to educate new-comers. I show them the lay of the land and find the best insurance solutions for their needs,” Susan explains.
It’s that exact spirit that Susan has carried with her while working with several European companies over the years. She is excited about the 70 companies in the LaunchpadUSA program entering the US market along a path Mike Klyszeiko and Erika Sauer have tracked.
“Insurance is a very important part of a successful entry to the US,” Mike says, “but it’s also very tricky. You need an expert.”
Normally expanding a local insurance contract from Finland, Sweden or Estonia to the United States costs about three times more than it does back home. Combs is able to help incoming international businesses set up local contracts and coverages to save her clients money and time.
“Money and time shouldn’t be wasted on insurance but on taking your company into new, international markets,” she says.
Combs notes that setting up shop in the US means having to go through the process of acquiring a lot of information. It is a big challenge, especially if you try to go it alone.
“Amcham Finland is uniquely positioned to help US-bound companies with analyzing their needs. They can help in finding the right people and partners to work with,” Susan believes.
What about the Nordics? How has working with them gone so far?
“They are incredibly warm and innovative. They put their faith in us and trust that we will assess their risks as if it were our own company,” Susan asserts.
“They have many other strengths, too. They often have solid foundations and have been established for several years. In my experience, the weak points have to do with a lack of understanding the local market and culture.”
Susan is very pleased with Amcham Finland’s strategy in the US.
“I want to be part of building a diverse and professional, business-to-business network and continue to facilitate and provide introductions to more companies and businesses looking to the US market for growth.”
She sees that biggest value of Amcham as being able create a more intimate, tight-knit community for those companies who decide to expand operations into United States.
“When you go to a foreign country, you don’t know what you don’t know,” she says.
“Being an Amcham Finland member can help by providing an experienced knowledge pool and positive environment of professional that can provide insight and guidance on how to succeed from the get-go.”
“Success is to a large extent about learning from each other. We can save each other from making expensive mistakes and can help each other avoid getting into trouble with things that we are not aware of like tax penalties and other regulations,” she says.
To talk with Susan, contact her via her website.