Lara Černetič on how to do business in Australia

You arrived in Australia only recently. What did you do before you came here?

Prior to moving to Australia, I spent the last six years as the Head of the Economic Office of the Republic of Slovenia in Milan, Italy.

The main task of the Office was to provide assistance to Slovenian companies in doing business on the Italian market and to attract foreign investment. In this period the Office successfully assisted many companies to build business connections in Italy, organized various business and promotional events and attracted several foreign investments.

Why did you move to Australia?

My six-year posting to Italy ended in December 2012. For me, this was a period of great personal and professional growth. I've learned that work and life abroad is a source of extensive experience, openness and unforgettable memories.  

This is why I started to seriously think about moving to another country. At the same time an opportunity opened up for my partner and me to go and work in Australia. After some serious consideration we decided to take the challenge. Eight months into our new life in Sydney we see that the decision was definitely the right one.

How do you find Sydney?

I think this city doesn’t need much in the way of explanation. On the global level it is ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I share this view and feel overwhelmed by its attractions over and over again.  

I like Sydney’s multinational character. It hosts people from all over the world which makes me feel that I am not a foreigner but rather one among many. People are very friendly, approachable, tolerant and informal. This makes it easier to make new connections and friends and find business partners.

The natural beauty of Sydney is extraordinary. It has a rich social and cultural life. I have to admit that I've found it very easy to get used to this life and to fall in love with my new environment.

What is your experience with job hunting? What, if anything, frustrates you most?

From the outside Australia is seen as a promised land where there is no shortage of work. The real picture is not quite like that. Admittedly, there is a lot of jobs available but there is also a lot of competition. This is especially true in big cities where there are many applicants for each advertised job.

After many months of job hunting I realised it was necessary to aim somewhat lower and perhaps for a start accept a job below my aspirations. Here local experience is very important and this is something one initially can’t have. 

Just like in Europe, connections and references are very important. This is why I spend a lot of time building my Australian network by regularly attending business meetings and getting to know new business people. As a result I have recently been offered two new jobs. 
I have learned that getting a job doesn’t happen overnight. It is necessary to persevere, to be patient and to believe in oneself. 

In what ways do you find Australia different from Europe?

Australia is far away and this makes it in many respects very different from Europe. At the same time, there are also many similarities, especially in comparison with England.  

Personally I prefer to talk about positive differences. The main advantage of Australian people is that they are very friendly with each other; they always stick together and help each other. And that is probably a recipe for success. People are very positive and laid back, tolerant and often informal.

This laid-back attitude spills over into the business environment which contributes to a better and more stimulating work environment. 

In short, the quality of life here is very high and people live in harmony with each other and their natural environment.

As a business analyst you are familiar with the market in Slovenia. What Slovenian made products could in your opinion be potentially successfully marketed in Australia?

Europe is one of the main trade and investment partners of Australia. A free trade agreement between the European Union and Australia has been in the making for a while now. Its aim will be to make exchange of goods easier and to facilitate economic growth of both partners.   
Purchasing power in Australia is high, about three times higher than in Slovenia (in terms of GDP per capita). Australians are very open to European goods. The proportion of imports from Europe is higher than the proportion of imports from the United States. European suppliers are actually very welcome here.

There is an opportunity here for Slovenian companies. Some are already present on the Australian market but not sufficiently. It is my estimate that this market still offers many opportunities, especially in pharmaceuticals, information technology, renewable energy sources, chemical industry, biotechnology, machinery, etc. 

However, it is easier to make an inroad onto the Australian market by offering a niche product since competition is fierce.  

What would be your general advice to any Slovenian company that wants to market its products outside Slovenia?

The choice of export market can be quite tricky and to appear on a foreign market it is vital to be well prepared. Proper preparation reduces the risk and increases the odds of success!
I would advise to please research thoroughly the following issues:
  • Demand for your products (potential buyers and pricing);
  • Competition (who the competitors are, what their pricing is), and
  • Legal and other aspects of international trading (financing, protection of intellectual property, adaptation of products for the local market, etc.).

It is also very important to have an export plan. A good export plan answers the following questions:
  • Is there demand for your products and services?
  • What specific products and/or services you intend to sell?
  • Which business models you follow on the foreign market?
  • How much money you invest in an individual foreign market?

These days it is possible to get most basic information about your selected market and your competitors over the internet.

Australia is a well organised country and just about any information on its legislation, taxation system, subsidies, how to start a business, etc., is publicly available on different government internet portals. 

Let me list a few specific resources:  

For further assistance, Slovenian companies are welcome to contact me. I am happy to provide consultations on how to enter the Australian market and I hold the position of a Honorary Representative of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia. I am available on my email address:  

Is there anything specific to the Australian market that companies from Slovenia should be aware of when trying to place their products here?

Australia is a young market and has high regard for tradition. It is very important to sell a story. Companies that are able to build one will very likely find it easier to enter the market faster.  

What are your plans for the future? 

Get to know Australia really well, gain new work experience, improve my English and make sure that my family lives a peaceful and happy life.

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