The Rules of the Game

The Rules of the Game


My top 10 tips on how to do expatriate business 
in the Czech Republic and still stay sane…


  1. You can either run a successful/profitable business, or become a social crusader lecturing the locals on ‘how things ought to be’ – not both. The choice is yours.
  1. Remember that business and local communities are small and closely knit in the Czech Republic, so your reputation will go before you! Speaking Czech goes a long way to changing people’s perception of you.
  1. Never assume that because Czechs look like Western Europeans, they will think the same way: the Slavic mentality is very different, and takes time to understand. This was probably the best advice ever given to me when I first moved here.
  1. Always show respect and courtesy for the person you’re dealing with – don’t show your real feelings unless they are positive. Never, ever, under any circumstances, lose your temper in public. This is especially true when dealing with any form of government/bureaucracy.
  1. Always politely request, never demand. Equally, if in doubt, ask for help or explanation – but never argue openly.
  1. You will be more successful if people can feel good about helping or doing business with you. Remember that most people will in any case assume that they are doing you the favour, even if you are the customer/taxpayer…
  1. When people try to help, always be appreciative, even if the help was not as helpful as it might have been. Don’t take other people’s failures as a personal insult, and remember – no-one is under any obligation to help you at all.
  1. Remember that while the business tempo is slower in Central Europe than it is in Western Europe… it’s still faster than it is in Russia or the Balkans!
  1. Remember that if you once offer or pay a bribe, whether in cash or kind, you will always be expected to do so thereafter. Strings exist to be pulled, however, and there is a social expectation that favours be reciprocated.
  1. When listening to opinions and receiving advice, remember that most expatriates have not been in the Czech Republic long enough to understand how Czechs think, and have their own prejudices anyway. Even fewer speak a reasonable amount of Czech, and fewer still have spent any time outside Prague or business circles.