Croatia's Foreign Entrepreneurs: Heike, from Germany to Tisno on Murter

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by Paul Bradbury,

January 17, 2018 – Continuing our look at the foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in Croatia, meet Heike from Germany who – along with husband Chris – have swapped stressful life in Germany for idyllic island Dalmatian living in Tisno on Murter.

1. First and foremost, why Croatia?

Because of the beautiful country: the Adriatic Sea with its thousands of islands, and the lifestyle of the Dalmatian people.

INTRO YOUR BUSINESS, what is it you do?

Our business is nautical education, day charter in the summer, yacht management and sometimes yacht deliveries around the world e.g. a catamaran from Greece to Thailand, one from Cuba to Croatia or another one from France through the Biscaya to Croatia (Sibenik) last year.

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2. Tell us about some of the differences in your expectations of running a business in Croatia and the reality.

We were both self-employed in Germany so we are experienced in being spontaneous, finding solutions and working on goal-oriented solutions. Croatians have a lot of laws and rules which we had to learn first. Some of them are as we know them from Germany, others have been completely new for us, like making a contract, also a private one, with a notary. Apart from that, there are a lot of rules which are not as strong as in Germany, so it is easier to build your own business.

3. What (if any) bureaucratical issues have you encountered and how did you overcome them (i.e. any advice to the would-be entrepreneur?)

We did not have a lot of bureaucratical issues, and If we did have an issue, we always asked “ok, what can we do now?” and most of the time, we found together with the Croatians a quick solution. Our advice: be open for new ways of working and follow the typical way of life in your new hometown, be a little bit more Croatian than a foreigner.

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4. How is your product or business perceived in the Croatian market?

With our offer we don´t have a typical product for Croatians. Most of our customers are coming from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We work together with some apartment houses which are sending us customers for day charters, they use our range for “special offers” for their guests. And every customer who is making the Boat Skipper B with us, is a new customer for rental boats or yacht charter of the Croatian companies

5. What were the opinions of your friends and community, were they supportive of your idea, or…?

Well, a lot of our friends where happy that we got the chance to move and start a business in Croatia but most of them told us, that they wouldn´t have the courage to do the same. They prefer their familiar, stressful but safe lives, while we decided to change the pressure and stress into a higher life quality. We knew that we would have to work hard in Croatia too, but it is another way of living, more relaxed, more sun, more fun. And we work in a business which has grown up from our hobby, so it was guaranteed that we will love our job.

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6. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in business in Croatia?

Doing nothing in winter…

7. If you knew then, what you know now, would you have come?

Yes, for sure!

8. What are 3 things you love about Croatia?

The beautiful sunny coastline, the calm way of living, the friendly and helpful Dalmatian people who are finding every time a solution to solve problems

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9. What are 3 things you would like to see improved in the business climate in Croatia?

⦁ More advice for foreigners who want to start a business, e.g. an employee in “opcina” who will help you with Croatian laws, approvals, permits,… who takes you by the hand with the first steps, who has recommendations for e.g. a bookkeeper for your company and so on.
⦁ A lot of forms and documents for foreigners are only offered in the Croatian language, would be nice to have them bilingual (Croatian/English)

10. How is it working with Croatians in terms of a business mentality?

No Problem for us!

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11. Advice for foreign entrepreneurs thinking of coming to Croatia?

Check the possibilities if your business is really needed in Croatia because the mentality, needs and claims are sometimes different to other countries. If you want to have success, adapt to the typical customs and accept the way of living and working. Keep calm if something is confirmed for one day and 2 days later if it still isn´t done.

Learn more about Heike’s business on her official website www.kornati-charter.com

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