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Home > Life Stories > The Language Entrepreneur - Finland - 1

The Language Entrepreneur - Finland - 1

Mrs M runs a personnel company. Its HR services include staffing and recruiting. The company also provides language services – translation and interpretation. Mrs M is highly educated, but not in the field of human resources. She has a PhD in natural sciences and vocational teacher qualifications.Mrs M came to Finland fifteen years ago to study for her PhD. She had got her Master’s degree in Hungary, where she was born. She had become interested in Finland through having a Finnish roommate, so she decided to apply to study in a Finnish university.  

She didn’t know the language at all when she arrived in Finland but she learned quickly. Only four years after her arrival she was able to take the official exam for authorized translators (from Finnish to Hungarian). She partly financed herself during her studies by acting as a freelance translator. She was also able to translate between English and Hungarian.

After her PhD she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the university for a while. Then her fixed term contract ended and she became unemployed. There was quite a lot of talk about recruitment problems at that time so Mrs M had the idea of bringing together employers who are seeking employees and providing a new work force from Hungary. The business started well and it has been gradually growing. The company started by recruiting staff from Hungary, but now most of the employees are Finns. They also recruit from other countries such as Poland and Slovakia. Since Mrs M had been working as a freelancer translator for a long time it was natural to include those services to the repertoire of the firm. They also started to offer telephone interpretation services to employers who have foreign workers and difficulties in communication with them.

Besides herself and the employees that are working for the agency, the company employs one salesman. Mrs M did not have any contacts in Hungary to help her to recruit her first employees, but as she says “she is quite good at organizing things”. Hence, she travelled back and forth between Finland and Hungary when arranging the things at first but now has the salesperson to assist with this. Like other companies she has had an accounting company helping her with the accounting all the time. She thinks a good accounting company is vital for the success of a start-up company.

At the beginning of her business, Mrs M got a start-up grant for half a year and a little after starting the business she attended a two week long start-up course, which she found very useful. The original idea was just to try and see if the business idea had some potential. Now, after four years, which included the international recession in 2008, it seems that the idea was worth testing. She encourages all those interested in entrepreneurship to start a business of their own, but recommends taking small steps at first in order to see if the business idea is viable. 

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