May 6, 2018 – Continuing our look at the female entrepreneurs of Croatia, meet Elizabeta Planinic, whose grave maintenance business won an award in the USA as one of the top 20 global franchises. And she didn’t stop there…
1. For our international readers who perhaps do not know you, quickly introduce yourself and what you do.
Proud owner of Guardian of Memory, the first service for grave maintenance (www.cuvarsjecanja.com) and a travel agency for corporate travel, www.putujbolje.com(Better Way of Travel), a passionate Macedonian who became Croatian, mother of 2 great guys, best female microentrepreneur of the year, winner of top 20 franchises in USA.
2. How did the business start, and what were the major obstacles and achievements along the way?
After having worked for many years in tourism, I started my own travel agency focusing on the B2B market offering competitive prices and fantastic VIP customer service. Available 24/7/365, we are like VIP personal travel agents to our customers. One might think one can do everything on one’s own these days, but usually they think of us when something goes wrong. All is well when things go according to plan. And they rarely so. That’s where I come in and do the impossible in no time. My clients say we should have called the agency travel ‘The Best’ not ‘Better’.
A few years ago my mother suddenly passed away and she is buried in a small town in Macedonia. I have been living for the majority of my life in Croatia. Feeling the pain I felt I realized this additional pain I felt because I live far away and therefore I cannot visit her grave that I am not alone in this. There are many people in similar situations because they moved away or are unable to visit graves of their loved ones. And that’s how Guardian of Memory was born. That is my passion, my love, my calling, my life.
I won an award in the US for being among top 20 best franchises in the world for that and I plan to spread it around the world.
3. People have told me on many occasions that the perfect combination in life is to live in Croatia and to make your money abroad. Do you agree?
Yes completely. I would not change Croatia for the whole world.
4. Let’s talk about the business climate in Croatia, which does not have the best reputation. Give us some positives and some negatives.
It has problems, mainly in mentality, administration. But if you need inspiration, go visit some other countries J
5. If there are three things which you could change to improve things dramatically, what would they be?
The mentality needs to be changed, and taxes reduced.
6. Your advice to foreign entrepreneurs interested in investing in Croatia? And to young local businessmen who want to try?
I came and stayed so what can I say – do the same 🙂 and if you are young, start the business as soon as you can, now you don’t risk so much. You have almost nothing to lose, you have time and you have so much to gain. Good Luck. Find a mentor but listen to your heart always.
7. How do you think the business climate will look in 10 years in Croatia?
Hopefully better, faster administration, lower taxes, better education, more cultural diversity, better quality of life
8. How has 2013 EU entry changed business in Croatia?
More competition but more opportunities for us all. Some are not ready for both. So some used this opportunity and many didn’t.
9. Being an entrepreneur in Croatia is not easy. What are the additional challenges experienced by female entrepreneurs in your opinion?
Lack of support from partners, family and society and other women are usually the biggest mistakes.
If we choose to be mothers, society tells us we can’t be entrepreneurs and mothers, we need to choose only one role. For example, preschools are open only until 5pm, try to imagine how it is like to be entrepreneur with a sick child. Some of us are lucky to have partners who are willing to take on a helping role, but lots of women struggle. Women need better and more quality support on many levels.
We raised 2 kids without nannies and grandmas. When I started my business they were already bigger and more independent. I love them so much and they are so proud of me and my success. What keeps me going is that look in their eyes when they talk about me to their friends. I think I set a good example for them to follow your heart and chase your dreams. I support and open doors to other women. That is what I can do and I do it.
10. If you knew now what you knew then, would you have decided to go ahead? What was good, what was bad, and what would you do differently next time?
I would have started sooner. The rest we have to learn by mistakes, but I would have found mentors before and tried to make fewer mistakes, and I would definitely have learned earlier all there is to know about numbers, finance and accounting 🙂
Are you a female entrepreneur in Croatia who would like to be featured in this series? Please contact us at [email protected]