Entrepreneurial Mindset: Meet the Speakers – Berislav Horvat

Total Croatia News

September 9, 2019 – Continuing our look at the speakers for this week’s inaugural Entrepreneurial Mindset conference in Zagreb on September 12. Next up, EY supremo, Berislav Horvat.

It quickly sold out and there is a waiting list of hundreds should tickets become available. Next week’s Entrepreneurial Mindset conference in Zagreb is the first of its kind in Croatia, and it includes a top draw list of speakers, several of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country.  TCN will be covering the event and we continue our series interviewing some of the key speakers. Our latest guest is co-organiser and EY boss, Berislav Horvat. 

Berislav Horvat, Country Managing Partner in EY Croatia and experienced business leader, focused on building a better working world in Croatia. Responsible for launching the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Croatia, the only worldwide entrepreneurial business award held across more than 60 countries.

1. As a Brit, I notice that entrepreneurs are not embraced and supported as much in Croatia as they are in countries with a longer capitalist tradition. How does it feel working in the entrepreneurial world here, and how did you decide to embark on this road less travelled? 

Entrepreneurs in Croatia still don’t have the status in the society they deserve and are often looked upon with skepticism. But things are slowly turning around. Initiatives such as the upcoming Entrepreneurial mindset conference and the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program which we launched five years ago, promote entrepreneurship and contribute to a positive change in perception. We witness success stories of our entrepreneurs all the time, and I notice firsthand that things in Croatia are not so negative. The focus of the public is changing, but it might not be as fast as we would like it to be.

2. How would you compare the perception of an entrepreneur in Croatia to one in Germany or the USA, for example?

Unfortunately, we are well behind developed countries such as Germany and USA, but also behind other countries that are still in transition. Countries that have a long tradition of entrepreneurship have a different perception of success which often comes after a few failures. The idea of failure and the fear of ‘what will neighbors say’ is still something Croatians are burdened with. There is a huge cultural difference between Croatia and developed countries where entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial way of thinking are taught from an early age. I believe it’s important for young entrepreneurs to understand that every attempt is a success, and that a failure is not the end of the entrepreneurial path, but an experience that will contribute to future business success.

3. A conference on the entrepreneurial mindset is very innovative for this part of the world. How did it come about?

It’s true that there aren’t many events dedicated solely to entrepreneurship and to entrepreneurial topics. It rarely happens that so many successful entrepreneurs come together with a simple goal to share ideas and experiences and to motivate others. We joined efforts with the organizer, ‘Poduzetnik’ magazine and Ognjen Bagatin who shares EY’s views and enthusiasm, and created a conference with a focus on an entrepreneurial mindset as the key driver of business success and economic growth. In addition, the conference is a great complement to our EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program and provides us with the opportunity to continue to raise awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship. 

4. What are your hopes for the conference and what do you hope to achieve?

We hope to encourage cooperation among entrepreneurs, provide a platform for sharing experiences and ideas, and the opportunity to work together and join efforts towards expanding businesses and winning large and complex jobs.

5. I assume that this is not just a one-off conference, but part of a longer-term strategy. Can you tell us a little more?

We believe that the conference will be a great success and grow to become a significant forum of entrepreneurs and an important business conference dealing with entrepreneurial topics.

6. As conference program partner, I must congratulate you on such a great list of speakers, the real cream of Croatia’s entrepreneurial class. Was it easy to persuade them?

Entrepreneurs recognize that this initiative is worth contributing to. They are all aware that promoting success, bringing entrepreneurship closer to young people and focusing more on the positive is essential for Croatia’s future.

7. Instilling an entrepreneurial mindset into a society which has grown up with socialism will take some time and effort. What is the roadmap to achieve this?

Society plays a key role in fostering entrepreneurial mindset, innovation and creativity from an early age. Education reform with its change of the old-fashioned approach towards learning, as well as creating a positive perception about entrepreneurship and developing financial literacy are all elements that can contribute to developing entrepreneurial culture and to a new generation of successful entrepreneurs. This requires joint efforts from all stakeholders – entrepreneurs and business community, government representatives, media and the general public – as we need to work together to make Croatia a place where entrepreneurship is truly supported and where the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset are nurtured from an early age.

8. Andrija Colak once told me that the best thing about doing business in Croatia is that if you can succeed here, you can succeed anywhere in the world. Do you agree, and why is it so hard to do business in Croatia?

I believe entrepreneurs encounter barriers and difficulties anywhere in the world. Here it might be a bit more complicated because entrepreneurship in Croatia and Croatia as a country are still young and there are quite a lot of challenges entrepreneurs come across when starting a business. We recently conducted a survey among candidates from five editions of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program and the results show that the biggest challenge facing Croatian entrepreneurs in the initial business phase is the market expansion challenge, followed by the challenge of finding and hiring good quality employees, raising funds and establishing the organizational structure within the company. Surprisingly, slow and overcomplicated administrative procedures that often cause a headache for entrepreneurs are listed as the sixth challenge. Lately, Croatia has been facing a workforce shortage, especially due to the increasing emigration to other EU countries. Results show that 85 percent of entrepreneurs find this to be the greatest challenge for the development of their business in the future. This is followed by high taxes and frequent tax legislation changes, which is considered to be a significant challenge by 54 percent of entrepreneurs.

9. How do you see the entrepreneurial scene in Croatia, and what changes have you noticed in the last five years?

The entrepreneurial scene in Croatia has changed quite a bit in the past five years. In the past, there was hardly any talk about startups, funding and similar entrepreneurial topics. Today the situation is different: the entrepreneurial scene has come to life. Who started which business, who invested how much, which entrepreneurial incubators are active and similar topics are often discussed. We believe the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program also contributed to this change of focus and we salute all future initiatives promoting success.

10. Three things you would like to see to help entrepreneurs in Croatia.

Firstly, the predictability of the business environment. Secondly, the judiciary that ensures business security and promptness of resolving any possible issues. And thirdly, further tax reductions, especially on income, to ensure competitiveness and workforce retention. I believe that there is a consensus that structural reforms need to be carried out, and we only need a stronger political will to drive them. Big changes are difficult to carry out in a short time, but it’s important to get things started because even the smallest change can lead to great results.

More info on the conference can be found at www.poduzetnickimindset.biz and FB Casopis poduzetnik.

To learn more about Berislav Horvat and EY services in Croatia, check out the official website.



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