Comparison of doing business in Chicago and in CEE countries

Chapter I — Comparison of doing business in Chicago and in Bosnia

Chicago, IL

The main differences of doing business in Chicago and in the Balkans, with special stress on BiH as non EU member state, are reflected through their smaller and slow growing economies, lack of appropriate legislature and legal protection for businesses, relatively volatile political situation and growing security challenges in the region, which come as a result of geo-political challenges in global context. Going from Bosnia and Herzegovina toward west to Croatia and Slovenia, the situation dramatically improves in almost all aspects. This is mosty due to the fact that Croatia and Slovenia are now EU member states and in the process of thier admission to the Union they had to harmonize their governance and legal systems with the applicable EU directives, but also had to accept & introduce a good number of EU-wide business best practices in order to stay competitive in a common market.

Situation in BiH is more difficult for doing business, as a mix of highly complex governance structure, political instabillity and slow growing economy destimulate foreign invesments and domestic enterpreneurship. On the other side, low costs of labor force, energy, real estate and legal services attract investors who seek for cost efficient production or outsourcing locations and are willing to accept to accept some of the risks associated with the negative factors mentioned above.

When we speak about manufacturing, Bosnia’s main advantage is the ratio between business running costs/geographical proximity to the EU/trade agreements with EU. In respect to services, especially Sofware development, the main advantages would be highly skilled labor force and quality of the provided SW products, with high level of cost competitiveness.

Sarajevo, BiH

Additional problem of BiH and Croatia is the brain drain and emigration of young people to Western Countries due to the lack of jobs or lack of adequately paid jobs in respect to the skills which they need. These migrations gain momentum by each year and both countries will have to do much more to create favourable business environement and prevent further drain of skilled labor force.

Lookin at the remarks above, it is very hard to make a parallel bewtween the Chicago and U.S. in general and Balkan countries. The Economy of Chicago metropolitan area, or the state of Illinois is probably at the level of all three Balkan states combined. This level of economic activity attracts professionals, investors, enterpreneurs and business from all over the world, as the market is just vast, opportunities for collaboration and exchnage are almost indefinite. Chicago has exccellent geographical position to serve the markets and clients in the large part of U.S., being a major hub between the two coast, but also Canada and its maind business hubs.

However, the oppinion is that the major advantage of Chicago, in respect to Balkans and many other regions and cities of the world is the highest possible level of diversity and opportunities which are open for talented and hardworking people. Chicago has created such infrastructure and business ecosystem which can now equally compete with the similar ecosystems in California, Washington or East Coast states. Chicago profits a lot from this diversity which it carefully nurtures, but at the same time offers a lot in return.

Balkan countries have to learn a lesson in this respect as the diversity still exists just as a notion, without it being stimulated and put to work. Hopefully, all three countries will do much more to boost local talent development and attract talent from other places. Only when this happens, these countries will be able to hope that they will be able to achieve similar success as Chicago did.

Chapter II — Comparison of doing business in Chicago and in Croatia

The advantages of doing business in Chicago

Chicago, with its vibrant startup culture, is one of the best places in the country to start a business. However, although it’s a rising hotspot for technology companies, it’s not trying to be like other startup scenes, e.g. Silicon Valley.

The biggest advantages of doing business here are the market, networking and minimal bureaucracy.

Entrepreneurship is the key to success, the Americans are nurturing this spirit and this is an essential part of their culture. Entrepreneurs are the ones who explore opportunities to bring new services and products to the market that change our lives, encourage innovation and economic growth.

What differentiates doing business in Chicago is that customer satisfaction always comes first! And then sales and your product follow.

Caring for customer satisfaction is what makes the business here different, the customers more satisfied, and companies more successful.

From driving in a taxi, ordering drinks / food at the bar or talking to a public customer service — everything is subordinate to the customer’s satisfaction. In US, users expect “premium care” and an unforgettable experience. The user in US has an abundance of choices and that’s why he demands the best. Everything works in that direction.

If you are able to provide unforgettable experience to your customers, in approach, problem solving, consulting … customers will want to buy more, order additional quantities of your product / service, recommend you to other users, and ultimately accept your imperfections and give you the opportunity to correct them.

People buy why you do it, not how you do it or what you do. Customers buy what you stand for. Your identity, your personality.

-Thomas Schranz

Chicago, IL

Other important distinction is that in Chicago startups can much easily get to VCs and investors than startups from CEE region. Even for US startups, fundraising is not easy since there is just a huge amount of quality ideas and teams present, and every investor expects the team to make a certain traction before deciding to invest.

But still, fundraising is much easier here to do than in CEE countries where there is a limited number of funding opportunities.

To sum up, Chicago is a great place to start a business but still has room to improve as a tech center. For starters, it needs to do better at keeping its human capital. A lot of skilled workforce, especially engineering graduates from top universities often leave to work for companies on the East and West coasts.

The advantages of doing business in Croatia

Croatia is a small and complex market, but plays an important role in the economic and political stability of Southeast Europe. It has significant growth potential, as it’s part of the European Union and as local populations strive to achieve the lifestyle of the more developed Western European countries that have higher GDP per capita.

Split, Croatia

Croatia is in an excellent geographic position to serve as a regional hub for U.S. companies. Zagreb, its capital, is only about a four-hour drive away to Vienna, Venice, Budapest, or Belgrade, and only a two-hour drive from the beautiful Adriatic coast. Croatia has excellent roads, sound ICT infrastructure, and a competitive white-collar workforce. The quality of life in Croatia is very high: it is a safe country, with tasty food, well-preserved nature, a mild climate, and abundant historical sites and other tourist attractions.

Unfortunately, Croatia has not fully completed the transition to a market economy. A socialist mindset still prevails in parts of Croatian society. The income of the majority of Croatians still comes from the government budget, social insurance, or public monopolies, not from revenues of truly competitive companies that operate strictly on market-based principles. So, any reforms that address public overspending, corruption, or bureaucratic and judicial inefficiency usually face strong resistance from the privileged majority, and can take a long time to implement.

Fortunately, there is also a growing number of vibrant, innovative entrepreneurs leading small-and-medium-sized, sophisticated, and internationally-competitive companies across many industry sectors in Croatia. These companies have strong potential to grow, and could become the locomotive of the Croatian economy and the catalyst in the transformation of Croatian society. As they tend to buy state-of-the-art, cost-effective equipment and technology, they also represent excellent potential partners for U.S. and other suppliers already present in the European market, adjusted to the EU technical and safety standards and providing after-sales services from locations in or near Croatia.

Chapter III — Comparison of doing business in Chicago and in Slovenia

I arrived in Chicago feeling a little uncomfortable of the unknown. I was so curious what is behind all that. Is this for real? How long people can pretend? Can I enjoy my time and learn here.

Well, now I can because did. But I also learned why. I think the secret is behind their inherited optimism and can — do –spirit which is also a key aspect of the way business operates here.

Since it is an American Holiday called Memorial Day, I was curious about the foundation of American. I learned “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” a well -known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence gives Americans the right to be entitled to happiness. It’s a fact when you are happy you can achieve anything. You can innovate and create! Americans just love profiles of success and happy stories. And that’s the way the Entrepreneurs are then driven by wants and desires shared by millions of Americans.

Memorial weekend, Chicago

In the beginning I was sure there was no way people could be authentic when they were talking in such a friendly, curious way. Is this a fake way to manipulate customers to buy more because they are so nice? Now I know for business owners the customer experience is key and about constantly making entertaining, fun experiences. Consumers will give more money to the businesses they feel emotionally connected to. This I must bring back to my own restaurant and staff.

People of Chicago love to make other people feel good. Their hospitality is reflected in the way they communicate and in all aspects of their life. Entertaining people in their homes, taking time to teach us about new ways to think about our businesses and ensure we enjoy the nightlife.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

So in my country things are different

  • In my country people criticize ideas but they never express a new idea to solve the problem. Here is Chicago they listen to the problem but come up with ideas right on the spot.
  • Our society people focus on the past and say .-“this is the way it is”- by they are not optimistic about tomorrow and do not express a positive way for the future. It is more matter of fact. In Chicago, people paint a picture about tomorrow and it is always with a bright future.
  • In my country networking is not authentic. Maybe there is a jealousy deep down. Here people really want to know what you do, how you do it and want to help. This is a big lesson for me and to carry on the spirit of helping other succeed. It will now become me gateway to my own happiness.

Chicago is a magical city. The architect who visioned the city, Daniel Burnham said, »Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized”.

I feel so lucky to have been part of World Business Chicago and learned so much about myself and my business while I was here. It is now in my heart and I will never forget #mylifeinchicago