Talking to a business startup

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Feb 22 2013
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Please meet Ivan Makhortov, a young Russian businessman with international background.  

Half a year ago, he started his own company in the Norwegian-Russian business incubator. Ivan explains why he decided to run a business of his own and whether, to his opinion, there are differences in business behaviour in Russia and Norway.

- I graduated from the Murmansk State Technical University with a degree in general management. I also got a degree from University of Tromso for international fisheries management. I attended additional training programs at the Norwegian Business School (BI) in Oslo (Norway), Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki (Finland), and Bodø Graduate Business School (Norway).

I grew professionally while working at several Russian companies on the market of heavy industry and telecommunications. I also worked at a few Norwegian companies in the sectors of electronics and construction materials.

I think that the management principles are more or less the same in all countries. Russian educational institutions have been applying American and European theories, books, and other information sources for training managers since the reforms started in the 90s. That is why well-educated business people are able to communicate on the same level even though they speak different languages. The main challenges and differences are in the psychology of individuals and business environment itself.

I would not say that the differences are vital and very strong, but they should be taken into consideration for efficient business communication. From my point of view, this type of obstacles can be removed by training, studying of culture and language, patience in trying to understand each other’s point of view, tolerance and mutual respect. This is more than enough. Unfortunately, lack of understanding and education, failure to comprehend differences and national peculiarities can lead to some kind of aggression and negative perception.

Shortly speaking, the Russian business environment is more complicated and unpredictable from many aspects. The solutions which are efficient in a more stable and simple business environment of Norway will not always be suitable for Russian conditions with so big territory, poor logistics, and a transitional economy. I can say – work in Russia is much more demanding and complicated that require more efforts and, in a certain sense, “stronger” management system and approaches. So, if somebody wants to exercise their own (for example, Norwegian) management system in Russia, it is ok and possible but this system should be adapted to the Russian conditions. It is like upgrading your car for the off-road driving.

There are several reasons why I have decided to start a business of my own. I have some ideas which came from my professional experience and which I want to try to implement in practice. I want to plan my time on my own, and I would like to get new experience of independent work. All ideas I have are related to the Russian-Norwegian business cooperation. That is why I am interested in new business contacts and opened for different business opportunities.

The reason why I applied for office place in the Norwegian-Russian business incubator is my educational and work experience related to Norway as well as my business interests. SIVA business incubator is the Norwegian organization and I would like to work and to have as much as possible business contacts from the Norwegian businessmen and organizations.  

One of my projects is aimed at developing of an online international marketplace which should unite businessmen from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and other countries. I and my business partner now have to work on this project purely on our enthusiasm without any financial support from any sources but we hope that after launching of the pilot version, the project will get additional impulse for development.

 Opening business is not a complicated task now. The most challenging issue is to make it efficient and profitable. I had a chance to join some state-run programs of SME support for business beginners. It is a good thing that they exist. Of cause people always want something more, so I hope that the new programs and measures will be available in future. It is hard to say whether they are efficient or not, but the availability of such support is certainly a positive factor. Local officials are more or less open for communication. But of cause you can assess them only by practical results. The officials are limited in a sense by different regulations at municipal, regional and federal levels, so getting the desirable result can be a challenge.