There are many things to consider when setting up your own business in Finland. However, help and advice is available. 

The business of business

When language student Biamel Kets arrived in Finland 11 years ago, it was just for a brief study exchange but, after six months, she had made the decision to stay for good. She has dreamed of setting up her own business ever since and, with the recent launch of Kebi Language Expertise, that dream has now become a reality. 

While developing her business idea, Biamel carefully analysed her own strengths and talents, before arriving at the conclusion that it was not necessary to re-invent the wheel and come up with a completely new business idea. After she had formally registered her business, Biamel found that there was still a lot of work to be done in terms of security, marketing and other preparation.

”It was challenging at first because Finnish is not my native language. But I was determined to do it all in Finnish,” the tenacious entrepreneur says.

To others contemplating setting up a business, Biamel has one piece of advice to give: ”Go to EnterpriseEspoo.”

”You can discuss your business idea with them and find out what needs to be done. It’s also a good idea to talk to other business-owners. Through EnterpriseEspoo, I’ve got in touch with an accountant and graphic designer, and they also gave me advice on filling out all the necessary forms. Their feedback and encouragement have been a great help. They gave my business idea the green light.”

More than language – immerse yourself in French culture

Kebi Language Expertise offers French language courses, private tuition and cookery courses in French, as well as translation and interpreting services. Little linguists are also catered for, with the first ever language immersion course for children taking place this summer. Biamel’s dream is to set up a French club.

”I have taught French and cookery at the Espoo Adult Education Centre. My students there are really nice and I would really like to continue working with them even though I now have my own business.”

In addition to language tuition, Biamel also facilitates intercultural communication between businesses.

”I work with French SMEs wishing to expand internationally. For example, the Finnish and French business cultures can be very different and I can offer them my expertise in that area. I can also act as a conduit for people wanting to do business with French companies.”

When asked about her wishes for the future, Biamel says:

”I hope that my business becomes a success, and my clients are more than happy with the services I offer.”

Interested in setting up your own business?

There are many things to consider when setting up your own business in Finland. However, you do not need to go it alone. EnterpriseEspoo offers free help and advice for start-ups and established companies alike.

”Every month, we offer our Yrittäjyys vaihtoehtona workshops, where we go through the basics of setting up a business. We also run these events in English and Russian four times year,” Irene Matinpalo from EnterpriseEspoo explains.

Help and advice is also available on a one-on-one basis. Before making an appointment to see an advisor it is good idea to give some thought to your business plan: what you are selling, who you are selling it to and at what cost. There is plenty of useful information available on the EnterpriseEspoo website, including specific guides on setting up a café, restaurant and online shop. Some budding entrepreneurs manage just with the guides and information found online, while others like to have several meetings with their advisor.

”At the appointment, we will go through the administrative side of things and look at what licenses you might need and whether you need to notify the authorities. We also look at the most advantageous business type for you, the registration process and the social security and pension implications. You need to be clear about what it means to run your own business and to become an employer, if you intend to hire staff.”

To set up a successful business, you need to put some groundwork in place, although the initial registration process is usually very simple and straightforward. Tax, social security and pensions issues are usually more complex and understanding them requires a bit of time and effort.

Both native Finns and more recent arrivals use EnterpriseEspoo’s services.

”When we have clients who are not originally from Finland, I always emphasise to them that if they are intending to run a business that is based just in Finland, the market will inevitably be quite small. And you should never underestimate the importance of language skills – you must know Finnish, especially if you are setting up a service sector business.”

Although the immigrants using EnterpriseEspoo’s services are a diverse bunch and generalisations are difficult, Irene has noticed that there is one thing they all have in common:

”Everyone really appreciates our help.”