3 reasons you should be an entrepreneur in Croatia (WATCH)

PUBLISHED: 28/10/2022

Croatia and Romania celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations with a Bilateral Conference held in Bucharest, Romania on October 20, 2022. As part of the event, a number of entrepreneurs, diplomats and non-governmental organizations traveled from Croatia to Bucharest to participate.

Sara Dyson, founder of Expat in Croatia, was part of the Croatian delegation and was asked to speak about why you should open a company in Croatia.

In this speech, Sara shares 3 reasons Croatia is a great place to be an entrepreneur including:

  • Lack of competition
  • Croatia might do things better
  • Quality of life

Watch the full speech on YouTube below or at this link. In case you would rather read the speech, than watch it, click here.

The attendees included:

Below are the press mentions for the event:

This bilateral conference was organized by Lifestyle CheckIN and supported by the Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Romanian Parliament, and the Split Chamber of Commerce. This speech was performed at the Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

bucharest chair
My placeholder in the Bucharest

“3 reasons you should be an entrepreneur in Croatia” by Sara Dyson

Dobar dan. Bună ziua. Good afternoon. My name is Sara Dyson and I’m from a little suburb of Dallas, Texas.

You might be thinking “why is she here?”

Honestly, I am thinking the same thing.

This Texan girl of Irish descent is standing before you in Romania to explain why you should be an entrepreneur in Croatia.

It just doesn’t add up. Nema smisla.

I grew up half a world away and have no Croatian blood, yet I’m here to share why Croatia is a great place to open a business. I am deeply honored by this opportunity to speak on behalf of Croatia – my adopted home.

Despite my lack of heritage, Croatia has become my life’s work, and is an inseparable part of my identity. If removed, I may cease to be.

When I came to Croatia in 2012, I didn’t know anything. There were few resources in English, even in tourism.

I relied on the kindness of Croatians to navigate the system – a system that was completely new in a language I did not know.

This mysterious labyrinth inspired me to launch a blog called “Expat in Croatia” to document my experiences with the Croatian bureaucracy including step-by-step guides for people to follow – all in English.

I remember thinking, “If this helps just one person who comes to Croatia after to me, then it will do its job.”

For 5 years, I wrote the blog in my off time. Croatians, who I met along the way, helped me with research. It was simply a side project that I loved. I never thought about making it into a business.

Then, MUP forced me to, for which I am grateful.

For the Romanians, MUP is like MAI here in Romanian. It also kind of reminds me of the DMV in the United States…if the DMV handled immigration, which is a horrifying thought.

When it came time to apply for permanent residence, MUP made it clear that I needed a Croatian salary.

I had a choice to make. Open a company or leave Croatia.

Leaving Croatia was an over-my-dead-body situation – so I opened that company.

This push from the government forced me to turn my little-blog-that-could into a business.

Four years later – my company employs 8 people, including 4 Croatians and we are about to hire 2 more.

Not only did the blog help one person, my company has helped thousands of people move to Croatia and set up their lives – with as much simplicity as reality will allow.

I can say with confidence that I could not have built my company anywhere other than Croatia.

Here are 3 reasons why.

First, in most countries, it is hard to do something new. Everything has been done, many times over. No matter what, there is a smorgasbord of competition.

But in Croatia, there is opportunity to open a business that doesn’t yet exist.

That means you can set the standard and define the space – becoming the leader that everyone else follows, and maybe even copies.

That’s when you really know you’ve hit the big time.

This doesn’t mean you have to come up with an idea that doesn’t exist yet in the world, merely an idea that doesn’t exist yet in Croatia.

A friend of mine from New York opened up a bagel shop in Split. A bagel shop is certainly not new to the world, but it was definitely new to Split. He took it seriously and did everything he could to make his bagels the tastiest possible – despite the lack of New York water.

And now he has 2 locations and a staff of 7.

Second, when you’re dealing with an unfamiliar system in foreign country in a different language, it can seem impossible – not just to open a business, but to even live. Where do you even start? What if something goes wrong?

But it was my lack of familiarity with the system that gave me an advantage.

I wasn’t jaded or complacent. I had no history or traumatic experiences. I was a blank slate.

I learned as I went along and asked as many questions as I could – many of which had clearly never been asked before.

I approached each procedure from a new angle, leveraging my knowledge from abroad.

It helped me understand the rules, but also the reason behind the rules – when there was one to find.

Being an outsider can have its downsides, but when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy – it is an asset. You have no preconceived notions or prejudice. Everything is a surprise. You can be open minded to the idea that perhaps Croatia does things better than where you came from.

For example, if I wanted to open a company in the United States, it could take weeks or even months. In Croatia, it took 5 days.

Now that I know as much as I do about Croatia’s government, a lot of things make sense to me. I find myself frequently defending the government.

Third, people come to live in Croatia for many reasons.

Some wish to reconnect with their heritage. Some marry Croatians. Some come for work. Some come to escape their homeland.

But, most of us, come because we dipped our toe in the water and fell in love with it – like me.

The reason we stay is the quality of life.

The air and water are clean. It’s astonishingly safe. In many cases, you can walk everywhere – including to work. Chatting over a single coffee for 4 hours is encouraged.

All of life is built around communities, big and small – of varied purposes. Entrepreneurs have their own communities where they can bounce ideas and discuss struggles and solutions.

You are never alone if you don’t want to be.

It’s this environment that fosters creativity as well as strength.

Recently, I had dinner with a big handful of fans of Expat in Croatia. They invited me out to Kaštel Novi, where two of them had purchased homes.

We walked along the riva waterfront as the sun set and got to know each other.

The sea was heaving in the wind with parked sailboats along for the ride. In the distance, we could see the dark mounds of Marjan hill and Čiovo peninsula. Lights glittered on the mountainsides and the streetlamps were just starting to warm up the white stone of Kaštela.

Every few minutes, my hosts would stop and drink in the view. They would speak romantically, with sparkles in their eyes, about how lucky they feel to be here. How simple and rich their lives have become.

I kept hearing the same refrain over and over. “It just doesn’t get better than this”.

I know that look and feeling. It’s a symptom of being head-over-heels in love with Croatia. To see this ooze out of another person is deeply satisfying, especially when they tell you that your work is why they are here.

These people are brand new, but those of us who have been in Croatia for years still feel the same way.

There is something about Croatia that wraps around you like an anaconda and doesn’t let go. And under no circumstances do you want to be released from its grip.

If you’re looking to do something new, I highly encourage you to consider Croatia for your entrepreneurial adventure.

Be original. Be consistent. Be valuable. Be informed. And above all, be patient. Do what you do better than anyone else and NOBODY can stop you.

And, Expat in Croatia will be there for you at every step of the way.

Thank you so much. Hvala puno. It was an honor to be here.

Watch Sara’s other speeches below

  • Zadar Digital Nomad Week – “How I monetized my blog (against the internet’s advice)” – June 2022 – Watch masterclass and AMA here.
  • Work. Place. Culture. Conference in Dubrovnik – “How Croatia made me better at my job” – May 6, 2022 – Watch speech here.
  • Lifestyle Check-In: Women in Business – “The 4 types of entrepreneurs in Croatia” – March 2022 – Watch speech here and the Q&A here.

Watch (or listen) to Sara’s interviews below

  • Nomadtopia Podcast – June 2022 – Listen here.
  • Split Tech City – May 2022 – Watch interview here.
  • Flavor of Croatia – July 2021 – Listen to the podcast here.
  • Going Remotely Webinar – “Applying for the Digital Nomad Permit” – Watch here.
  • Dobro jutro, Hrvatska (Good morning, Croatia) – July 2, 2020 – Watch interview in Croatian or read English translation here.

See all press and upcoming engagements for Expat in Croatia and Sara Dyson here.

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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