And here we are. New year, new decade, new beginning. While the change of the year is a somewhat familiar phenomenon, standing at the doorstep of a new decade gives rise to longer-term plans and more vigorous decisions. Today we are closer to 2050 than to 1990. This is the moment to think about where we stood 30 years ago, what we have achieved so far, and what our country and business could become by 2050, which is no longer such a wildly distant future.
Distance is certainly not only a relative concept with regard to temporal dimension but obviously also in geographical terms. Foreign markets, which until now have seemed unknown and complex, are shifting closer and closer to us in a figurative sense, and this is happening partially thanks to developments in IT, as well as the expansion of our way of thinking. Estonian entrepreneurs are able to compete in ever larger and more exotic markets, as equals among equals.
PHOTO: Export Adviser of the United Arab Emirates of Enterprise Estonia Jukka Hahlanterä (with his back turned to camera) and Sectoral Manager of Export Advisers of Enterprise Estonia Sven Aulik welcoming guests at the opening ceremony of the Dubai office of Enterprise Estonia in February 2019
The expansion of the way of thinking and a new beginning are also symbolised by the commencement of the growth programmes of the target market at Enterprise Estonia. This time the focus is on the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East region at large. Although Estonian enterprises have already had several success stories there, a well thought out and collaboration-oriented programme has not been implemented yet.
Focusing on the United Arab Emirates as a new growth area is only natural, given the fact that Dubai Expo 2020 that is categorised as the World Expo will take place there this year. A lot has changed in organisational terms compared to the previous major exhibitions. As an important change, this year’s Expo focuses more on business development, community projects, and environmental sustainability. Thanks to the greater interest of entrepreneurs, the arrangements of Estonia’s participation at Expo have also changed. While until now Estonia’s participation at the World Expo depended largely on the state, the organisational management will be in the hands of a consortium of enterprises this time. The year has started with the great news that the financial contribution of the entrepreneurs to participating in the Expo has been achieved.
Based on the feedback of entrepreneurs, the growth programmes are designed to collect valuable preliminary information about a potential new export market. Furthermore, expert observations and advice, as well as mediating direct contacts in the target market are highly appreciated. Enterprise Estonia’s capability to bring distant and foreign markets closer to Estonian entrepreneurs is better than ever, as illustrated by the success stories of other growth programmes. Therefore, during the new Expo year, expectations for the growth programme of the United Arab Emirates are higher, but it is evident that without preparation, success in the new market is virtually impossible.
However, it is not enough to have encyclopaedic knowledge of local business culture and even a great product or service for a breakthrough if proper marketing is missing. Branding is the ability to tell your story in an engaging manner, especially in front of such a huge audience, where tens of thousands of enterprises from every corner of the world are struggling for attention.
Without a doubt differentiation contributes to achieving strong competitive advantage in marketing, however, presenting joint and clear messages with Estonian entrepreneurs will help us to stand out and attract attention. Estonia has a marvellous story to tell about innovation, sustainable way of thinking, and high work ethics. The role of Enterprise Estonia and the Expo team is to assist in agreeing on such messages together. On 18 February, the e-Estonia Briefing Centre provides our enterprises with the knowledge of how to tell the story of e-Estonia, as it is rather vital to start preparing the stories already now.