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Business in Russia through the eyes of Russians

Igor Lotakov
Country Managing Partner, PwC Russia

“In the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”

Warren Buffett

Russian business, constantly aimed at moving forward, is accustomed to cleaning the windshield from the dirt. However, the habit of regularly checking the rear-view mirror, unfortunately, has not settled down.

Opinion surveys—to extend Buffet’s metaphor—can help provide a clear look in the rear-view mirror and help businesses to clarify the best way to cover the distance, whether there is a threat from the left or from the right.

We asked our colleagues at the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) to poll 2,021 Russian citizens across large cities and small towns to find out what the Russian public thinks about business.

The results are really thought-provoking.

It turned out that thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians are still sceptical about the possibilityof running a successful business in Russia, although their attitudes towards entrepreneurs are absolutely different.

76% of the respondents said their impression of entrepreneurs was “rather positive”, while only 10% hold rather negative views. 45% believed that attitudes towards entrepreneurs were worse 10 to 15 years ago (20% believe that entrepreneurs were held in higher regard, while 25% have seen no change in attitudes).

More Russians now think the Russian entrepreneurs have a significant impact on the country’s development (48%), outvoting the pessimists (24% said the impact is small, while 14% believed there is no impact at all).

At the same time, 49% of respondents believe that the environment for doing business in Russia is less than favourable (compared with 37% who believe it is favourable), with 44% of respondents saying it had deteriorated in recent years (just 37% say it has improved). That said, a nearly similar share of respondents believe that the environment for doing business in Russia in the forthcoming years will improve.

This, however, did not affect the answers to the question whether the respondents would like to run their own business. 54% of them responded negatively. They pin their hopes on their children or grandchildren. Nearly two-thirds want their heirs to become businesspersons.

Our respondents’ answers to questions about relations between government and business provided more than enough food for thought.

41% believe that taxes on business should be reduced, 33% proposed no changes, while only 11% felt taxes should be increased.

The number of those who advocated for stronger government regulation of business is twice the number of supporters of the opposite opinion (52% and 25%, respectively).

Probably it could be partly explained by the desire of Russians to make life easier for small businesses. Three-fourths believe that the government should prioritise supporting small rather than large businesses (only 13% want to give priority to large businesses). More than half (55%) state that small business has been unable to cope with the challenges posed by the pandemic. It’s almost a consensus among the respondents to the question whether small businesses need additional support – 89% gave positive responses.

In 2021, PwC in Russia held its sixth annual Business Book of the Year Award. Once again tens of thousands of people voted online for their favourite works of business literature before our jury of experts selected the winners. Hence, we were eager to learn about what our respondents thought about books on how to do business. It turns out that only 17% of Russians are interested in reading business books, while 81% would “rather not” read business literature.

Are these results disappointing? Not necessarily, as 36% of respondents aged 18 to 30 reported that they are avid readers of business literature.

Do you remember that almost two-thirds of Russians hope that their children or grandchildren could become successful entrepreneurs?

Those wishes just might come true after all if, while looking through the windshield one does not forget to also check the rear-view mirror.

Contact us

Anna Smischenko-Mironova

Anna Smischenko-Mironova

Head of communications, PwC Russia

Tel: +7 (495) 967 6172

Maria Novikova

Maria Novikova

Press center specialist, PwC Russia

Tel: +7 (495) 967 6000

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