“Why Hungary?” It’s a question that Hungary-loving expats will grow used during their lives here, with the various responses ranging from the country’s rich culture to the joy of sipping fröccs on the banks of the Danube to conclude a work day. And yet, establishing a business in Hungary ensures this question is met with even more curiosity.
Since so many young Hungarians look for opportunities beyond the country’s borders, locals are intrigued when a young foreign entrepreneur decides to come to Hungary and run a business from the country. “Is it because of the taxes?” might be a common line of questioning and certainly taxation could be a valid reason to set up a Hungarian company, since the corporate tax rate of 9% is the lowest in the EU. Even so, there were ample other motivations for us to lay the foundations for clovio Kft back in 2013.
Plagued Media Landscape
In just the past few years since founding our young media company, the media landscape in Hungary has undergone significant changes. A number of respected private media outlets disappeared, and Freedom House considers Hungary to be a country with partly free press freedom. Hungarians are highly aware of the importance of independent media, while the country houses a rich literary culture. Many Hungarians read and write in their spare time, which means that there are passionate and skilled writers to be found.
When it comes to staffing a media company, therefore, there are plenty of great candidates to choose from. The difficulty and particularity of the Hungarian language does make it a challenge to achieve a native level of English writing, but this has proven to be manageable with the right help and guidance.
‘Jól beszélsz magyarul!’
In the capital you won’t have any trouble getting help in English, though outside of Budapest you should get the help of a translator… unless you’re lucky enough to be able to resort to Italian, Russian, German, or one of the other languages of the seven countries neighboring Hungary.
It’s no secret that Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to wrap your head around. Learning the language with the aim of using it professionally is best considered a long-term goal, though in the meantime you’ll benefit from being able to use some colloquial speech on one of your many visits to government offices. Being able to say a small sentence or slang phrase like “Tök jó!” may not be the most meaningful, but it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of the Magyars who will think it’s cuki (cute) and appreciate the effort.
Patiently Collecting Stamps
While Hungarians may come across as grumpy, they certainly know how to appreciate a friendly smile. This smile and a good amount of patience will be two indispensable traits as you queue at the tax office to collect stamps or try not to doze off in the heat at the bank. Bureaucracy is definitely still a thing in Hungary, with a lot of procedures and no real, clear way of knowing how to proceed with them. You’ll quickly find out that signing with a pen that isn’t blue might as well be considered a crime for the drama it could cause, and you’ll soon get to a point where you might ponder the idea of carrying your company stamp around your neck at all times.
As your patience is tested by this overreliance on bureaucracy, you might inevitably get the idea that time has stood still in many places: many things in Hungary are what they are because that the way they’ve always been. Hungarians are progressive, though, and want to strive for the betterment of the collective good and their nation, of which they’re very proud for all the right reasons. You’ll find that they’re loyal and thankful people and honor the opportunities that they’re given. Combined with their talkativeness and quirkiness, Hungarians are fun and pleasant colleagues to collaborate with.
The international media’s reports on the present issues in Hungary and especially Hungarians’ own thoughts on starting a business in the country aren’t exactly motivating. And yet, a couple of years into our Hungarian business adventure we at clovio are glad to be a Hungarian Kft. We’re happy to help out those thinking about setting up a company in the country, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if that’s you.