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Home > Life Stories > The Knowledge Entrepreneur - Finland - 2

The Knowledge Entrepreneur - Finland - 2

Mrs N was born in Indonesia 30 years ago. She has now been living in Finland for six years. She is married to a Finn and therefore moved to the country. She has had her own business for five years. She is importing garden furniture and other interior decoration supplies from her home country to Finland and selling them in a web shop and a bricks-and-mortar store. She has also started to import some food from Indonesia, but this is still a very small-scale business.

As a young girl Mrs N was very determined to get out of her small country village and to study for a good occupation. She moved to town and got a degree in management. After graduation she worked for a couple of months in a bank and for five years as an export assistant exporting goods from Indonesia to Europe. This gave her very important experience in import and export trades and regulations.

Her brother has a company in Indonesia which takes care of buying the furniture from the producers. This is important, since otherwise it would be difficult to trust the suppliers and check the quality of the products. Mrs N learned in the early stages of her business that the seasons of the year in Finland are very different to the seasons in Indonesia, and the coldness of winter sets some very high quality standards for the garden furniture. The seasons of the year have also a strong influence on customer demand. All garden furniture is sold in spring and summer and there is hardly any business in the autumn and winter. This fact she learned the hard way during her first year in business. Dealing with your own family makes it easier to communicate these cultural and environmental differences.

The start in Finland was difficult. Her visa was valid only for maximum of three months. After that she needed a residence permit, which could be applied for only from the Finnish embassy in her home country. In Mrs N’s case this meant that she initially came to Finland for three months and got married then returned to Indonesia and applied for a residence permit. In Finland she started a language course and worked in an international wood industry company as an interpreter (Indonesian-English) for their Indonesian projects.

Then she got the information about a business start-up course for foreigners and joined that. The course was very useful. There she wrote her business plan and got comments on it, and perhaps most important of all, she got a mentor for her start-up project. From him she got a lot of good advice both about the business idea and about the regulations and administrative duties in Finland.

She thinks that her education was very helpful in starting up a business as well as the positive attitude which she has. She also thinks that having her husband’s Finnish surname herself and in the name of the company has helped her and her company to gain trust. She warns other start up entrepreneurs about listening to and believing hearsay and rumours and says it is important to look for reliable sources of information. Entrepreneurs should also take into account that Finland is a really small market and that nature and seasons have a big effect on consumer behavior around the year.  

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.