Since Slovenian companies are well aware of the challenges in the international business environment, they get well around it, said Andreja Jaklič from the Centre of International Relations at Ljubljana's Faculty of Social Sciences. "Internationalisation is a difficult and risky process where not everyone makes it."
"Big companies usually only talk to big companies," said Ajda Cuderman, director of the SPIRIT agency, so she praised small Slovenian companies for making it abroad, saying they proved it was possible to succeed with niche products with high added value.
To successfully compete with rivals, a company must stay innovative, stressed Hidria Holding director Iztok Seljak, saying the automotive industry was particularly challenging due to time pressure to innovate. Decarbonisation is another major challenge, but also a new opportunity for innovation.
Damir Opsenica, a director at Iskratel, believes that to make it abroad, a company needs to be successful at home. "If you're not the best in your own country, you'll find it hard to target top positions globally."
Executive sales and marketing Director at Adria Mobil Matjaž Grm highlighted the role of brand name for a company to be recognisable. "One needs to constantly work on the brand name and renounce in advance any compromising regarding quality at the expense of revenue."
The panellists also highlighted the role of human resources to keep abreast with competition, noting the lack of adequate staff in Slovenia.
Opsenica said it was hard for Slovenian companies to compete with foreign companies in hiring the best of staff, with Jaklič saying Slovenia's geographic position enabled young talents to find new opportunities abroad.
Seljak, on the other hand, believes talents are not that hard to attract for the development of promising niche products, but Grm stressed it was not enough to attract only Slovenian talents to make it abroad.
As for global trade tensions, the panellists said Slovenia had little leverage to change the situation, but it could improve the domestic business environment. Jaklič noted the need to reduce administrative burdens and Cuderman argued for best possible coordination among various stakeholders.