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The Skilled Entrepreneur - Finland - 1
When Estonia got its independence back in 1991, the country had to build the whole administration from scratch. A lot of new civil servants and state authorities were needed. Mr S was 20 years old at that time and he got the opportunity to become a policeman. For 10 years he worked as a policeman. However, the wages were low, and when he saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for truck drivers to work in Finland, he decided to take the opportunity. It was easy to get a work permit as he already had an employment contract.
Mr S worked four years in a transport company in southern Finland, first as a driver and then as an organizer. Then he got an opportunity to buy one third of the company from the owner who was planning his retirement. After five years the owner wanted to retire totally. At that time Mr S had become the virtual leader of the company. He was the one who knew how the things were and what was going on. So it was quite natural that the principal shareholder offered his share to Mr S. The decision was not easy for him. He had to think hard. Originally, he had come to Finland with a wish to have a steady job with a decent salary. To take over the company and all the responsibilities and pressures that come with it, was not really what he had planned. However, he wanted to take the challenge. Hence, Mr S became the principal shareholder of the company.
Since that year 2008, the company has been growing strongly. The number of the trucks has doubled from 15 to 30, and the turnover of the company has almost tripled within three years. The company has now over 40 employees. At the moment, the company strategy is to wait for a while and then start growing again.
Mr S has not come across any prejudice while running the business. He can speak Finnish well after living here for ten years. The ability to speak the language and computer skills are important to running a business. There aren’t any big cultural differences between Finland and Estonia, either. He has only noticed that the decision making of Finnish CEOs takes a bit longer time than in his country of origin. The main success factor of his company has been hard work, he thinks. His company is consciously trying to deliver services that are of high quality. He thinks that as long as the service is good, the customers don’t really care if the entrepreneur is a Finn or an immigrant. There is an accounting company taking care of the accounts, which he feels is important, too.
The advice he wants to give to immigrants starting up a business, is to remember that being an entrepreneur means a full time commitment to the business. You can’t expect to work from nine to five and then forget all about work related things. It is also important to remember to keep the funds of the business separate from your own funds; business-owners tend to ‘borrow’ from their company and find themselves in trouble when company funds run out.