In recent years ambitious UK businesses looking to develop an international presence have often thought of the BRIC countries as the go -to destination.
Drawn by the prospect of high growth rates and large markets this was understandable. However, this has often been to the neglect of countries on our doorstep that offer a great deal of opportunity to UK businesses.
Since 2010 CloudSense has operated an office in Croatia, a country which formally joined the European Union three years later in 2013. The expansion has been tremendously successful, with the CloudSense office in Zagreb growing to 60 employees in that short amount of time.
On the back of this success we have come up with three key reasons why British businesses should consider Croatia as the perfect venue for European expansion.
Location, location, location
Croatia’s capital city Zagreb is a short two hour flight from London and only an hour ahead of GMT, making operations there comparable to other major European cities such as Munich, Madrid and Rome. The location means it is very easy for individuals to travel between offices (with regular flights from Heathrow and Gatwick) and colleagues across the two offices have minimal time zone issues to deal with.
This lack of time zone difference is crucial for team unity and means we can have a company culture which is consistent as possible, key for a growing business such as ours. There are also positives for customers as the better aligned time zones result in more convenient customer service than provided by those companies with teams based further afield.
Zagreb in Croatia has a high proportion of skilled workers
Ease of business
A common perception exists that doing business in former eastern bloc economies isn’t easy to do. But since joining the EU, there is regulatory consistency and a mechanism for people to do business across borders. This consistency means it is easy to do business in the country and our expansion is testament to this.
What also serves Croatia well is that there is real energy and ambition within the country, with an entire generation wanting to push their country forward. This means there is a strong work ethic and an inclination to challenge things which is key for a technology business like ours. When you combine the dynamism of the workforce with the ease of doing business, expansion to the Croatia becomes even more attractive.
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Croatia has strong foundations for a growing business to build upon, particularly the level of education in the country. There is a good education system in Croatia which means that there is a wealth of talent for employers to choose from.
In addition, a lot of the individuals educated to a degree level are still struggling to find employment, meaning that there is a considerable talent pool to draw upon, with most of our employees having a master of science degree from the University of Zagreb.
As a technology business, we need to have employees with a certain skill level and we were able to find individuals that we could train and fit into our business quickly. There is also minimal language barrier, with the vast majority of individuals educated to degree level under 40 already fluent in English.
Croatia is undoubtedly a great place to do business, but as ever success depends on having the courage of your conviction and ignoring those individuals who warn against overseas expansion. While other countries such as the BRIC and MINT nations are making headlines, UK businesses should carefully consider Croatia as a great place for expansion.