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Home > Life Stories > The Knowledge Entrepreneur - Finland - 3

The Knowledge Entrepreneur - Finland - 3

Mr B came to Finland with his Finnish wife over 20 years ago. The couple had met in Germany. After getting married the newlyweds first lived in Germany for some years then Mr B found a job in Finland and they decided to move there. Mr B is 61 years old and has been working in the maritime and construction industries all his life. He has a technical and commercial education. Hence, his expertise is technical marketing. Mr B first came to Finland as an employee, and worked for several companies for little over ten years, living also partly in Belgium, France and the UK.

In his fifties he decided to try out what it would be like to be his own boss. He started a business, which offered consulting for other companies in technical marketing, and through that company he also acted as CEO of other companies, e.g. when large companies wanted to start a new business in Finland they hired him and his company to run it. His company was mainly handling external trade to and from Germany. The client companies came mostly from Russia, Finland, Germany and other European countries. Mr B had the language and cultural skills to deal with the German companies as well as the ability to understand technical details and translate them into commercial layman’s terms. These skills he had gained both through his education and during his career.

The company grew as he gained more trust among customers. Trust was essential for his business. Of course, as he says, there were trust issues in the beginning because he was a foreigner. The clients were not sure, if he was to be trusted, if he could really understand them. However, in those projects there were often Finnish public financing bodies involved, which helped in this trust building. Networking in different local associations, such as the Rotary Club, was a big help in the start-up. There he made friends in local business life who were willing to help him if needed. For example in the start-up process, the help of a local lawyer’s office was invaluable. Networking was also an essential part of his business activities, since he was mostly dealing with Russian and German companies, both countries where personal contacts are regarded very important in business life.

Mr B thinks that either the cultural differences between different countries have become a bit smaller over the years or at least the understanding or awareness of these differences has increased. But still, the further you travel, the more cultural barriers there are to overcome in doing business in a new country. Even such a small things like gestures, rhythm of the speech or the negotiation styles are different in different cultures, and must be acknowledged.

Now Mr B is little bit over 60, and one year ago he changed the form of enterprise from limited company to sole proprietorship. He has reduced the number of assignments and works now mostly part time from his home. This is now an arrangement that suits his life situation best. He is gradually moving towards retirement and wants to increase the time spent with his family and hobbies. As he says, he has worked like a fool all his life, and running a small business now on side of other activities is the most appropriate arrangement for him. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
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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.