- Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises operating online and physically across Eastern European countries, provide their best advice about starting up
- Many entrepreneurs in our survey focused on making their product or service perfect without giving the proper attention to other parts of the business
- Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic rank in the top ten countries in the world for having the best-skilled developers by SkillValue in 2019. Other Eastern European countries also rank highly
After researching and speaking with 30 Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating online and physically across Eastern European countries, we put together this list of the best advice they provided about starting up.
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Learn the local language
Most Western European Languages may have become global languages, i.e. English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. And with this, some aspects of culture and business customs have also become international. Central and Eastern European languages have not. They have mostly remained isolated and preserved their language, culture, traditions, and business customs within their respective countries. As an Entrepreneur, it is best to master the local language and use it for your benefit, to network and market your business.
Calculate resources, investment, and technology
Although this seems like common knowledge, many entrepreneurs fail to do this, which often results in severe damage to set up a successful business. Take your time to especially evaluate investments, cash liquidity, resources, policies, B2C and B2B transactions, and the risks of operating in Eastern Europe. Many foreign startups and entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe often think that business and government policies are similar to the Western European Union (EU) countries. Don’t make the same mistake. Many Eastern European countries are not in the EU and have distinct policies that you must take the time to understand.
Focus on the business more than the product or service
Even the most useful products fail if the business does not make it profitable and sustainable. Many entrepreneurs in our survey focused on making their product or service perfect without giving the proper attention to other parts of the business, such as resources, investments, people, technology, and marketing. This ultimately made it much more difficult for them to make a profit and meant they had to retrace their steps when starting up.
Respect hierarchy and business partners
Most Eastern European countries want you to have a local business partner. They value your experience and seniority in global matters and want you to respect theirs in local matters. It’s common for businesses to have traditional hierarchies and environments, not flat structures like businesses often do in Western Europe or the USA.
Strengthen expat network
Eastern Europe has a vast expat network and countries have large numbers of skilled workers. Use this to your advantage to hire skilled workers or reach new countries and markets where expats have strong knowledge and partners. Many expats and workers, in particular, the younger generation and millennials, desire international exposure. If your business offers global opportunities for staff, this will appeal to and draw expats and workers to your business.
Hire local tech talent
The technological talent in Eastern European countries is fantastic and stands up there amongst the world’s best. Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic rank in the top ten countries in the world for having the best-skilled developers by SkillValue in 2019. Other Eastern European countries also rank highly. Furthermore, it’s cheap to hire workers in this region than other parts of the developed world.
While the local tech talent is a bargain, entrepreneurs need a global ambition and the right management to achieve that ambition. Many Eastern Europen countries have excellent international transportation, and between 76% to 88% of their countries have Internet coverage. This gives startups the perfect opportunity to sell their goods and services globally.
Scale your business wisely
Startups rarely achieve their exact desired results and often underperform or overperform. Scaling the business by improving its processes can mean your startup makes more revenue and profit faster. Still, entrepreneurs often don’t do this properly. Ensure you have a plan to scale wisely without risking your operational sustainability.
Have an exit strategy
All great entrepreneurs and investors know when to quit their startup or ideas. You should know when to relocate, sell, restart the business, or go into administration. Create a strategy to exit before operations get to a point where you can’t leave with money, shares, or assets. Investopedia provides a useful guide on the basics of a business exit strategy.
Take advantage of any government support scheme
Eastern European governments have been very forthcoming in fostering local businesses with global potential to improve their countries economic environments. Many countries have financial and non-financial government schemes, which before the pandemic were suitable for businesses. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many Eastern European countries have offered compensation schemes and furlough to people and companies that are not as favourable as those in Western European nations.