Bulgaria Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Bulgarian businessmen treat business negotiations formally, at least at the beginning of establishing relationships, and observe both protocol and a more conservative standard of dress. Although they tend to be more reserved in business negotiations, on the other hand, they are direct, express themselves clearly and explicitly. They have a good sense of humor, which can be a welcome relief when building relationships. Negotiations are often long, which must be expected. Patience and friendly relationships are very important for success.

Addressing

Meetings must be arranged in advance (approx. 2-3 weeks, preferably by phone) and local holidays should be kept in mind. If you arrive at the meeting place without prior agreement, it is very likely that you will not be able to meet the person in question.

In Bulgaria, it is addressed in written form as “Dear Sir/Dear Madam” (Уважаеми господин Novak, yважаема госпожо Novakova). In the oral form, one addresses Mr. Novák, Mrs. Nováková, the first name is used if the partners have known each other for a long time. The younger generation calls each other by their first name, and this sometimes applies to the older generation towards the younger ones.

Business meeting

How to arrange a business meeting and how it goes (office location and meeting time, restaurant; lunch/dinner, business cards, gifts, etc.)?

A business meeting is usually arranged in advance by phone or email and it is usually about 2-3 weeks in advance, but spontaneous meetings in the sense of “let’s meet the day after tomorrow” are not exceptions. Meetings usually take place in the office or in a restaurant. They are arranged between 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. for a morning meeting, a business meeting at a restaurant for lunch is usually at 12:30 p.m. or later. The afternoon meeting is usually between 14:00 and 17:00. Evening meetings are more usual for partners who have known each other for some time and have a friendly relationship. The topics for the meetings are usually given in advance, at least in outline. At the first meeting, partners usually exchange business cards, giving a gift is a suitable way to express interest in cooperation.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Bulgaria. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Timing of negotiations

In case of interest from both parties, it is possible to arrange a meeting basically at any time, with the exception of public holidays and the associated time off. During the summer holidays, the regime is also more relaxed, this is most true in August. There is also a more relaxed regime during Advent and Christmas, Bulgaria is an Orthodox country, so it is important to find out in advance when the actual holidays are.

What surprises a Czech businessman the most during negotiations?

A Czech businessman may be surprised by the level of warmth and even joviality, especially if this is his first experience with Bulgarian partners. Likewise, a certain degree of tardiness and a generally looser approach to commitments and the fulfillment of agreements.

What are Bulgarian traders like?

They come to the meeting prepared, have knowledge of the territory and usually have prepared proposals for individual solution options. They expect interaction and the same approach from the Czech side. Bulgarian partners are usually very good negotiators and often get straight to the point.

Is negotiating with local traders different, made difficult by cultural/religious/ethnic differences?

As a rule, differences do not make dealing with each other difficult, Bulgarians mostly like the Czechia thanks to positive experiences and do not have negative prejudices against Czechs.

How do Bulgarian businessmen manage their time during a business meeting?

It depends on the course of negotiations and the level of mutual relations, if it is an introductory meeting, it will usually be more formal and shorter, once both parties get to know each other, time does not play a key role and negotiations can be extended and interspersed with social conversation.

How do Bulgarian businessmen deal with emotions in business negotiations?

Similar to the previous case, at first they can be more restrained, not showing too much emotion, which later changes with the establishment of a more permanent contact.

Are there any territorial differences in business dealings within a country?

They exist, but they are not so significant as to significantly influence the course of business negotiations.

It is suitable or customary to offer alcohol during business meetings?

In business negotiations, especially at the beginning of establishing contacts, this is not a habit, rather it is a question of a working lunch and social interaction, but with the emergence of closer contacts, even this can change.

How to dress for a work meeting?

For business meetings, it is recommended to dress formally – for men a suit, for women an evening dress.

What should an ideal negotiation team look like (number of members, age and gender composition of the team, team leader)?

It depends on the specific case, if more experts are needed, etc., it is not a problem to adjust the size of the team. Neither age nor gender play a key role in the team or its boss.

It is customary to invite a business partner to your home, or be invited home? If so, what is usual for such a visit, what to expect?

If both parties have known each other for a long time, this is quite normal. You can expect a very friendly reception, rich hospitality, a pleasant environment, and the visit can take a long time. It is appropriate to bring a gift to the host and flowers to his partner.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?

Having an interpreter is not very common. As a rule, you can get by with English, but it may happen that the older generation will have a problem with English and it will not be at a high level. In that case, Russian can also help. If you can speak Bulgarian, your partners will be pleased, they will appreciate it and they will be more open in negotiations. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Bulgaria culture and traditions.

How about language facilities?

Especially the younger generation is usually well-equipped with languages, most often English, then German, French, the older generation may have a problem with foreign languages, which sometimes helps to solve, for example, knowledge of Russian. It is not unusual to come across Bulgarians who will be able to understand and communicate in Czech or Slovak at a good level.

Are there any communication taboos?

Bulgarians are a very proud nation, therefore it is advisable to avoid criticism of local conditions, caution should also be recommended when discussing politics and history in the Balkans (e.g. relations with North Macedonia, Serbia, the Turkish minority, etc.).

What is the best way to communicate (in person, email, phone, etc.)?

Initially, it is possible and common to communicate by e-mail or telephone, but face-to-face meetings are always key.

Recommendation

What would you recommend to entrepreneurs who are going to Bulgaria?

We would recommend doing a thorough research of the market and the given market segments in advance. Arrange legal or tax Czech-Bulgarian consultancy, contact chambers of commerce and relevant associations. We highly recommend visiting a trade fair, which will provide information on the market situation and competition in the given field.

How do economic diplomacy services – trade missions, trade fairs or other tools – help to establish contacts in the country?

In Bulgaria, the support of the embassy is an important element in demonstrating the seriousness of the Czech company. The presence of an ambassador or trade diplomat at the meeting is a suitable form of support and helps to create a prerequisite for further development of cooperation. Our embassy offers this support to Czech companies, but we must always make it clear that such support is exceptional. This applies especially to dealings with state authorities, state-owned or large enterprises. The embassy tries to support Czech companies by personally participating in trade fairs (often also within the framework of economic diplomacy projects PROPED or the project to support economic activities PROPEA ), during negotiations, signing contracts, opening operations, etc. It is also possible to organize company events and presentations at the embassy.

In addition to the embassy in Sofia, the Czech Republic has honorary consulates in Varna and Plovdiv, which can also help in establishing contacts locally.

Public Holidays

Official holidays:

  • January 1 – New Year
  • March 3 – Day of liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke
  • Easter (Orthodox) – the date moves every year in accordance with the Orthodox Church calendar (Friday and Monday)
  • May 1 – Labor Day and International Workers’ Solidarity
  • May 6 – St. John’s Day George’s Day, Day of Heroism and the Bulgarian Army
  • May 24 – Day of St. the brothers Cyril and Methodius, the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture, and Slavic literature
  • September 6 – Unification Day (1885)
  • September 22 – Bulgarian Independence Day (1908)
  • November 1 – Day of National Revivalists (school holiday)
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve
  • December 25 and 26 – Birth of Jesus Christ

All listed holidays are non-working days (with the exception of November 1).

Bulgaria Culture of Business