While the fact that having the access to the markets outside the CIS space is a big Opportunity for a Ukrainian entrepreneur, this, in the same time, brings several challenges with it.
Being a Ukrainian entrepreneur is totally different from being a Ukrainian Expat. The entrepreneur outside the CIS space has to face new regulations and laws, and all the ways of understanding what people mean when they say "yes", "maybe" or “we have a deal” in the different cultures.
What are the biggest challenges an entrepreneur meets outside the CIS space?
1. Establishing Trustful Relationships is the first biggest challenge. Trust is established differently outside the CIS space, and you have to be able to "read" whether the possible future partner focuses Long term or Short term. Failing to "read" this correctly will lead to either missing an opportunity to open a gate in the new market (most likely), or to get a bad deal.
Read: In an Interconnected World: will the Cultures converge?
2. Seeing things in the long run is the 2nd challenge. For Eastern Europeans, including the Ukrainians, seeing things in the long run is very hard. This will have the consequence that the entrepreneur will be rushing through the process of getting a deal and might miss some important trust creating milestones which might lead to ending up alone and thus having to retreat from the market after one or two years. In a continuously changing environment (like any country from the EE or Balkans) rushing through the processes (because the future doesn't hold any promise) is a normal practice. However in the more stable countries such a thing might lead to the end of your presence in that market without the possibility to reenter it in the near future.
By combining the first two challenges, a missed opportunity takes shape. That is: failing to invest and develop some relationships just because at that point they don’t look like they will give anything back in the short run. “Time is money” is a biased superficial view that strangles the huge potential of the Human relationships, especially across cultures.
3. Not valuing some of the services the way the Western Europeans value them is the 3rd challenge. The fact that a French or German person would use some services (Coaching for example) doesn't mean that they don't know how to read a book about the subject or are not in control of themselves. It simply means that they see the value in that service and they see the value in getting the most out of it in the most efficient possible way with the appropriate investment. In EE there is the tendency to save money on such services by trying to figure it out on your own with bits and pieces gathered from free tips. As brave as this might be, this translates into wasting time. If the entrepreneur has the next decade to keep trying to enter an unknown market, than he or she can experiment and figure it out on their own, and find the answer to why some services exist. The downside of this is that along with time, they waste energy and there will be less chances that they’ll try to enter that market again, once they’ve failed.
4. Lack of understanding that the markets outside CIS are different among each other is the 4th challenge. This will lead to applying the same sales and negotiation techniques in any non-“rus” market. One of the most common mistakes are that the entrepreneurs think that the Western Europeans are all the same, and the Asians are all the same, while different from the Ukrainians (a Japanese-Chinese interaction will amaze a non-believer).
Read: Personality vs Culture
5. “Learning to tie the shoe laces, before trying to run the marathon”. Realizing that if things are not under control at home, they will be even harder outside, will be the 5th challenge. There are entrepreneurs that think that outside of Ukraine things will be easier because people are different. The truth is that everywhere things are different and nowhere else human interactions will be easier and more comfortable than they are at home. Expanding the business outside of Ukraine without having it under control at home is a big waste of energy, time and ultimately money.
There are, of course, big advantages of the Ukrainian mentality and those will help Ukrainians to develop their businesses much faster than it usually takes for a business in the Western Countries to develop, but these advantages are, of course, in the wisdom of each entrepreneur to be used in the proper way.