The Slovenia Times

Slovenian entrepreneurship at a Crossroad


1. How will the first generation of entrepreneurs say their goodbyes?

In the past few months, I have visited more than 250 exceptionally talented entrepreneurs. Even though they are full of optimism and in spite of the record results that they have achieved this year, many of them are in doubt about the transfer of management and/or ownership to the next generation. Nearly 30 years have passed since the entrepreneurial renaissance occurred in Slovenia. The first generation of entrepreneurs is on the brink of retiring.

While some have tackled this challenge responsibly and systematically, e.g. with a family constitution, others have not. This is why I am not surprised by information that the demand for selling family companies is higher than ever. On the other hand, there is also the information that there are very few family companies being sold. After all, family entrepreneurs in Slovenia are even more attached to their businesses than they are abroad.

The upcoming years will play a vital role. The Slovenian Business Club (SBC), which brings together entrepreneurs with the largest set of different succession models, will have an especially responsible mission to familiarise family businesses with best practice and recipes.

2. What degree of uncertainty can we expect in export markets?

Slovenian entrepreneurs are no longer just ordinary suppliers in the chain. Many of them have become developmental suppliers. Companies that manage world-renowned brands are competing for their products and services. What is more, the Akrapovič company has developed the best-known Slovenian brand - Akrapovič. Also, Postojna cave has become a global tourist sensation under the leadership of an entrepreneur. And when it comes to the gaming industry, the "Made in Slovenia" brand has become nearly as prominent as "Made in Germany" is in the global economy, in general.

Slovenia is small. Nevertheless, many Slovenian companies and entrepreneurs are world champions in niches. This, of course, means that they depend highly on fluctuating world markets. The cooling of the economy and the uncertainty pertaining to global hotspots and technological leaps can either launch them even further into the stratosphere of entrepreneurial success or it can send them spiralling down the drain. Slovenian entrepreneurs, thus, share their fates with many others in this fierce global competition.

What will the attitude of the government toward entrepreneurs be like?

2019 will be a breaking year, also in connection with the attitude of Slovenian politics towards entrepreneurship. The Minister of Finance, Andrej Bertoncelj, announced a tax restructure with which he also plans to implement income tax exemptions.

This is not just a favourable prediction but also a necessary measure. Slovenia needs comprehensive tax reform, in line with the Austrian recipe from 2016, i.e. a significant income tax exemption. It also needs structural reform in order to be able to pursue three important objectives:

  • To continue with economic growth higher than elsewhere in the EU,
  • To achieve a developmental breakthrough, and
  • To start catching up with the most developed EU member states.

In 2019, SBC will dedicate the greater part of their attention to improving the entrepreneurial environment. It all depends on the government and politics, and on how much they will listen to us. However, it is difficult to imagine a state-building policy that will not take into account the propositions of an association whose members achieve an added value per employee that is 25% higher than the state average. In the last five years, they have increased sales by 60% and provided nearly 50% more jobs than in 2012.


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