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All Points North #56 - Entrepreneurship in Finland - what you should know before taking the plunge

Look before you leap is the general advice coming from APN's panel on the subject of starting a business in Finland.

Audio: Yle News

Service designer Pamela Spokes and food designer Vahid Mortezaei couldn't have had more different approaches to entrepreneurship. Spokes' entry into the business world was carefully-researched and methodical, while Mortezaei took a leap of faith.

According to 2017 data from the Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen yrittäjät), micro enterprises like Spokes' and Mortezaei's generated 70 billion euros in revenue, so small businesses are an important driver of the economy, but sometimes people just don't know where or how to get started.

Both Spokes and Mortezaei cited taxation and mandatory pension contributions as areas where fledgling entrepreneurs should be especially careful.

Freedom only imagined

The micro entrepreneurs told APN that there were many other lessons to learn on their journeys as business owners. Mortezaei said he chose to start his own food design and catering business because he wanted to have freedom but found that in practice, running a business was entirely different.

"The reality is that there are many limitations. As an entrepreneur you have to take care of many things. Taxation, hiring someone, online marketing, being on social media all the time and marketing your business, networking," he explained.

"Know your customers, know whom you'll sell to and how you're going to reach them. Network as much as you can, because a lot of your connections and contracts come through connections, and get an accountant," was Spokes' advice to newcomers to the world of business ownership.

Teemu Polo, a business development adviser with Newco Helsinki, an organisation that aims to give enterprising people a leg up into business, said people should seek help before they get started.

"There are a lot of people who are super happy and eager to help and share their knowledge so you just need to reach out. And finally to not only listen to advice but to use it as well," he counselled.

Apart from Newco Helsinki, persons interested in taking the plunge into entrepreneurship can contact their local employment offices (TE-toimistot), on the website, and at the Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen yrittäjät), among others.

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The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's podcast presenters were Denise Wall, Mark B. Odom and Zena Iovino. The episode was produced by Priya Ramachandran D'souza and the audio engineer was Juha Särkkinen.

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