Since our independence in 1991, Estonian business life has largely reoriented from the east to the west. Long before joining the EU, Estonia adapted its legislation and business procedures to conditions in Western Europe. Businesses introduced Western accounting systems, gained Western quality certificates and, most importantly, Western business contacts. Focus increased on learning English and other European languages. This massive reorientation during almost 20 years has created a business environment according to Western standards.
In line with a generally liberal view on economics, the start-up and close-down of companies in Estonia is cheap and simple. Compared to its neighbouring Nordic countries, the hiring and laying off of people in Estonia is regarded more as an open market agreement between employer and employee. Trade unions generally intervene only regarding the level of minimum wages.
The business culture of a country is obviously also determined by a number of subtle and less tangible aspects. Estonians are known to be quite formal in their business relations, for example, agreed times are held and payment terms and other contracts are honored. The entrepreneurial and working spirit is considered to be strong, sometimes at the expense of social skills. Business meetings tend to be formal and not personal.