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

The Skilled Entrepreneur - Finland - 2

In the year 2000 Mrs M had a good job in her home country, Estonia. She worked in middle management in a factory. The salary was quite good, but she was a hardworking woman, so she also wanted to earn some extra money. Therefore she came to pick strawberries in the summer at a farm in Finland. During that trip she met a nice guy whom she started to date. They fell in love.

Mrs M wanted to move to Finland but that was not so easy at that time. Only when she had got the agreement of a steady job could she get a work permit and was able to move to Finland to join her boyfriend. The job was hard physical labour – something quite different to her previous job. Mrs M could hardly speak any Finnish and there were no language courses available for Estonians at that time, either. The shock due to the collapse in her social status when moving to a new country was hard. But as her language skills improved, she was able to get better jobs, meet more people and improve her language skills.

After six years she decided to start a business of her own. In fact, she had already experience of one start up. That is, she had helped her husband to start a business some time before. She says that starting a business of her own was not just a romantic dream of hers; it was something that she had always known that she will do some day. She started the planning by looking around what kind of services the local craft shops offered. A craft shop was a thing that she wanted to start. She had obtained the vocational education to help her with that from Estonia and she had been sewing and doing needlework all her life. Before starting the business she offered some of her works for sale in a local community centre just to try out if they would sell. And they did. After her ‘market research’ she decided to offer cloth repairs, needlework and handicrafts. The company is now four years old, and based on demand the focus is moving more to cloth repairs. Quite recently, she has also made a contract to import special kinds of threads exclusively to Finland.

In the beginning, it was quite hard to get the first customers. People were a bit suspicious and shy of entering her shop. But when the first customers came in and were pleased with her work, word started to spread. Word of mouth was an effective way to gain trust within the small town where she lived. In her opinion, the ‘success factors’ for her were a) her vocational education, b) the skills she had gained from starting up and assisting in her husband’s firm and c) strong belief that she would succeed.

Mrs M would like to grow her business, but the lack of competent employees has been an obstacle for that. She has had several trainees, but she thinks that their attitude has not been right. She would wish her employees to be as entrepreneurial and enthusiastic as she is but employees with that kind of attitude are hard to find. She thinks that there is a different work culture in Estonia and in Finland. Finns seem not to be as hungry for work and earnings as the Estonians which might be due to higher standard of living in Finland. The cost of labour is high and it is not so easy to let an employee go, if he/she turns out to be unsuitable. Hence, until now she has been mostly working alone.

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.