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Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; it is a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and has taken a seat at the UN Security Council three times. It is also notable for its biodiversity, its achievements in sports and science, and its historical influence on Slavic cultures through its Medieval literary schools and the Cyrillic script.

Cristian: Yanislav from SOFIA OFFICES is going to explain how to open a business in Bulgaria. Not everybody knows but Bulgaria has a 10% tax on income, which makes it a real bargain if you want to start a business with low taxes. So Yanislav, what are the main advantages if you want to open a business in Bulgaria?
Yanislav: The tax climate is definitely an advantage. The tax on profit is 10% flat, the dividend tax is 5% and the VAT (when applicable) is 20%. Of course Bulgaria is part of the EU which favors certain employment, residence and trade matters, but the main advantage is the fast developing business atmosphere due to the vast amount of foreign capitals and businesses moved/created in the country in the past 10 years.

Cristian: In a previous interview I found out that is very easy to open a business in Estonia. I wonder how difficult is to open a business in Bulgaria?
Yanislav: Depending on the type of the business. If the activity of the company is not related to any licenses or permits, the incorporation procedure itself takes about 5 days.

Cristian: Do you need to travel to Bulgaria to open a business or can it be done remotely?
Yanislav: A company can be incorporated remotely but this takes some extra time sometimes because of the remote opening of an initial share capital company bank account.

Cristian: Do you need to have an office in Bulgaria? And what about opening a bank account?
Yanislav: It is mandatory by the law for a company to have a registered address. This does not necessarily means that it must be a real office space. For instance we offer virtual office services in this regards which by now is the best solution for new businesses or as first step for foreign companies moving to Bulgaria before settling their own office, employees, equipment etc. Regarding the bank accounts – at the moment this is a bit of a peculiar matter at the moment. Banks are getting more and more “distrustful” and strict and you have to have a good reference from another bank or from the lawyer taking care of the company.

Cristian: Can you have access to the bank accounts online? In Romania for example you have to come in person each 2 years and update your personal details.
Yanislav: All of the banks in Bulgaria offer internet banking. Not all of the banks require personal presence after the company current accounts are set in order to update details. Even if such actions are required they can be settled if the respective attorney has a good cooperation with the respective bank. For instance one of the main priorities for us at the moment is the bank collaboration, because after all this is probably the most important part of the business structure.

Cristian: And what types of businesses are most suitable for such an arrangement?
Yanislav: All kinds of businesses can be suitable. Difficulties have companies that deal with crypto currencies, online gambling, binary options etc.

Cristian: What are the legal requirements when running a business in Bulgaria? How often do you need to fill papers, pay taxes and so on?
Yanislav: Mainly the incorporator must not be an insolvent person or currently not in a process of insolvency. As it concerns the second part of the question these are more accountancy relevant matters, but generally every company must prepare its annual financial statement at the end of the calendar year, pay its taxes and submit financial report for the respective year. VAT registered companies file monthly reports as well.

Cristian: Are there complications that can appear? How can you make sure you have your papers in order if you are not in Bulgaria? Anything that you could read in English?
Yanislav: This is up to the communication and collaboration between the business owner and the accountancy and law firm. In this regards is better the accountancy and the law firm supporting the respective company to work with English as well because all official government/administrative documents (and correspondence) are in Bulgarian.

Cristian: Can you sell to Europe from Bulgaria? Do you get a VAT ID?
Yanislav: The company incorporated in Bulgaria is a EU legal entity so there are no obstacles to get VAT and trade in the EU.

Cristian: So what would be the minimum income you should get to be able to pay all the costs?
Yanislav: The minimum profit the company must have is to cover its maintenance costs. Address registration (virtual office, rented space, etc.) and accountancy costs because even with zero balance at the end of the year a financial report must still be submitted.

Cristian: Is there a way to put the company on a temporary hold and re-use it later?
Yanislav: Company cannot be put “on hold”. It can cease activity and file zero balances for some time and then restart the activity.

Cristian: When can you take dividends and what is the procedure? Where do you pay the taxes?
Yanislav: Dividends can be obtained by the shareholders at the end of the financial year. They take a decision for distribution of the profit (or part of it) and the company pays 5% to the government upon this distribution.

Cristian: Can you have employees abroad? And where are the taxes paid?
Yanislav: Yes, a company in Bulgaria can have employees abroad but this is a very broad question. There are many options and respective taxes and expenses depending on the particular case (structure of the company, position on which the relevant employee is hired, jurisdictions of the sending and receiving country, nationality of the employee, education degree, etc.)

Cristian: Can you purchase a ready made company? Are there any benefits?
Yanislav: At the moment is way easier to incorporate a new company than to purchase a readymade one. There are no benefits and also is more expensive. Purchasing of a readymade company happens only when one entity buys a working business for some purpose.

Cristian: What about the postal correspondence?
Yanislav: We provide such service as part of our virtual office services.

Cristian: Any advices when doing business in Bulgaria?
Yanislav: Find a good law firm and advise with them!

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Cristian: Hi Gil and welcome aboard. Today we are going to talk about Discosloth. Discosloth revamps the way businesses use PPC and SEO. So what exactly does Discosloth do and what is special about it?
Gil: Hi Cristian, great to be here. Discosloth specializes in search marketing – specifically helping people get higher visibility on search engines like Google and Bing. When we started, we saw that the PPC (pay-per-click) industry wasn’t very transparent about the way it works. We’re trying to improve that transparency by both releasing detailed information about our strategies, and establish a subscription-based model so that companies know upfront how much they’ll need to pay.

Cristian: I have a lot of questions about what a small business could or should do to promote its products online. But what I noticed most importantly in the last 5 years and we should probably start with is the following statement: 10 years ago it was enough to have a product and make a site for it. Now you have the product you make the site and nobody visits your site. Is this true?
Gil: That’s totally true. And this is because of the way search or social companies have intentionally siloed their platforms. It’s pay-to-play now: their business model involves making money from directing traffic, so it’s not going to be easy to get free, organic, viral users.

Cristian: What have changed in the last years? I still have customers that ask me to do a little SEO on their site to be “on the first page of Google” and while I know that’s no longer the case, what would be a correct answer?
Gil: Google’s algorithms have gotten exponentially smarter over the past few years, and that’s actually a good thing for consumers. The search algorithms are now semantic. They’re intent-based rather than keyword-based, so it’s very hard to game. You used to be able to rank on the top position just by cramming your page with keywords. Now, that would bury you in the rankings.

There is the misconception out there that SEO is a push-button approach, where you pay someone to flick a switch on their site and they’ll magically start getting orders. Obviously it doesn’t work this way, so I think the best way to educate your customers is to show case studies and emphasize that the best growth comes from quality over quantity…not just generating a whole lot of shady backlinks.

Cristian: I think everybody at some point went through a phase where content was king. They published content each day hoping for the best. I think now it got more complicated as we have sites pushing up content like crazy and a regular business can’t keep up. How does this work?
Gil: For a while, yes, content was king. But the problem is that people started producing content for content’s sake, rather than really good, quality content that answers their reader’s questions. And when you have literally millions of competitors producing weekly or daily content, you’re just not going to stand a chance. Someone always has a bigger content budget than you, or more writers on staff, or a bigger social audience to amplify that content. That’s why we encourage our customers to have a long-term strategy in place for their search marketing.

Cristian: All these questions, and I haven’t yet asked you who is your typical customer. Who comes to you and what does a success story look like?
Gil: We focus on medium-sized businesses who have an online presence which can be improved by search marketing. Our specific niches are usually in healthcare, travel, and ecommerce, but it’s really just anyone who we think can get increased ROI from improving their online presence. Success to me is helping a client get more money coming in than going out. Once you’ve got that, it’s very easy to scale.

Cristian: How did you start Discosloth? I think there is a lot of competition in your area.
Gil: There is a whole lot of competition, and that was actually one of the things that I was unsure about when we were starting. But we quickly found out that most people offering AdWords and Bing PPC aren’t specialists…they’re usually generalists, either digital agencies or solo creatives. And so we doubled down to focus on one specific thing and do it well: search marketing! It’s a specialization that has paid off with time.

Cristian: One thing I noticed is that Google’s or Bing’s advertising interfaces got incredibly complex. Same for Analytics. How can you make something about understanding how things work?
Gil: You’re right, the interfaces have gotten a lot more complicated. But that’s because they’re continually adding new features and techniques. We realized this and found that most of our clients didn’t have a strong grasp on the way PPC worked. So we spent a long time – a year, actually – creating a free guide for pay-per-click advertising to help them understand the ins and outs of digital ads. A shameless plug here (it’s really for Anya, since she wrote the majority of the guide) but Rand Fishkin of Moz fame read it and said “if you need a resource for those learning PPC, this is the one”. To us, that was some incredible praise from someone we really respect in the internet industry, and we hope it’s useful to people trying to discover more about PPC.

Cristian: Let’s have an answer to a very common question. You have an online shop selling appliances. How can you get ahead of the other sites having the same products as yours?
Gil: That’s a loaded question! I would say the first and most important thing is to make sure your site is perfect: not just a crappy template or a site hacked together by a nephew. But after that, the answer is just to be persistent and keep on keeping on. A long-term strategy will almost always pay off, after others give up.

Cristian: Do affiliates still work?
Gil: Does affiliate marketing still work, as a general concept? Yes. Can the average person hack their way into tens of thousands of dollars of revenue with affiliates? Not anymore. That was a fad that worked insanely well for a few years, but the space got crowded and search engines started penalizing low-quality inbound marketing and doorway content. It doesn’t work anymore, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of gurus selling guides to instant affiliate riches.

Cristian:What would be an expected outcome using your services?
Gil: To see a good outcome using digital marketing, you’ve got to be in it for the long run and prepare for a lot of testing, incremental changes, and budgets. We’ve taken clients from a negative ROI all the way to a 150% ROI, but it takes months to do so. There’s no magic switch. But it’s definitely possible.

Cristian: What are the biggest mistakes businesses do when advertising online?
Gil: Not having a defined brand and not knowing who their customers actually are. We’ve had a lot of clients approach us with a preconceived notion of who buys their products, and even what they themselves are offering. You can’t sell a $25 bag of single-origin coffee to a grandma, just like you can’t sell a dump truck to a hipster.

Cristian: Does Facebook work?
Gil: Depends on your vertical. Definitely not for free, so you’ll need to pay to boost posts. If you’re selling impulse, low-margin purchases like t-shirts or gadgets, it works pretty well. But if you’re selling high-cost products that require research, it’s not going to be your best bet. That’s where a Google search campaign comes in.

Cristian: What would be your most important advice for companies looking to increase their online revenues?
Gil: I really think that companies need to focus on their long-term approach. All too often, companies turn to online advertising to patch holes in their business model. If you’ve got a successful business, it can be made even more profitable by a digital strategy…sometimes by an exponential amount. But if your business isn’t doing well, and you’re trying to go digital as a last-ditch effort to save your income…that’s not going to work out too favorably for you. Digital marketing, whether it’s SEO or PPC, produces some incredibly profitable results for the right people. That’s what we like to help clients achieve!

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Depression. Stress. Anxiety. Restless nights. Irritability. These, and much more, are common things that many entrepreneurs may deal with on a daily basis. The business world can be cruel and heartless, taking the best of you and leaving you with nothing left to give those you love.

Been there, done that. Here is an infographic from www.savvysme.com.au that shows a glimpse of what’s happening during entrepreneurship. Sometimes we can’t see the forest because of the trees.

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I have something that really bothers me lately. What kind of employees do you really want in your small business?

Usually if we are talking about a bigger business, it’s better to have more types, even if you consider them individually they are not the very optimum. I mean yeah, you want the best sales people, but you might just want one that can’t sell well in general, but has the luck or ability to sign just one huge contract a year. Or yes, you want the best programmers in the World, but you might want lighter ones to deal with your site.

Anyway, there are several types of employees you might want to have. I’m listing below the ones that comes first to my mind:

  • the rookie. Good for tasks that are very repetitive or just plain operational
  • the YUPPIE. Usually the best if you have an interesting business with great growth potential. They just want to grow together with you. They leave you the moment they have a better opportunity
  • the seasoned professional. Good experience, but sometimes they might lack fresh new ideas
  • the working mom or career woman. One of the best choices when it comes to pick up a CEO. Yes, you heard me right, if you have something to be done, then you can be sure it’s done.
  • the lucky bastard. They don’t do much, nor are very skilled, but they seem to get it right each time it’s actually important. They might bring you more money, contracts or anything else than the most skillful dedicated sales person
  • the Evangelist. Usually it’s in your company from the very beginning. You can count on him, he will be day in day out at the office and he knows stuff. He will spread only the very best words about the company and good for forming new teams as well.
  • the opportunist. Heading to a better paid job already…
  • the rich boy. He doesn’t really need to work, but still does it. They are not in for the money, so they must do it for fun. So they like it, and do it well
  • moonlight entrepreneur. Works for you by day, has a second business to run at home in the evening. Interesting, usually they think just like you the entrepreneur. If they become successful, they head towards their own business

Which one would you hire?

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