Knowing the language (and the culture) is a key to success when starting a business in Finland. However, the good news is that Finns are amongst the best English speakers in Europe, so even if you do not happen to be into Finnish, it is easy to partner with local companies or outsource sales, marketing and customer support.
Also, if you are interested in doing business in a certain area, you can always turn to the local development company for advice. These companies assist you in setting foot in the area and offer a broad range of services from evaluating your idea to finding suitable business partners for you. In my case, that was Imatra Region Development Company (KEHY), and when I met a KEHY business expert with my very first business idea, I was rather grateful to get a realistic, neutral opinion from somebody with deep understanding of the area.
After three years as a manager for an Imatra-based startup, I founded my first business with three former colleagues. Eventually we developed the online translation agency Kielimuuli and went through the typical stages of a startup.
Since May 2017 I have been working as a business expert for KEHY myself, my focus being on international issues and startup companies. I am glad I can share my knowledge with other beginning and experienced entrepreneurs. Finland offers different tools for new entrepreneurs, such as starttiraha (“start-up grant”), which provides for the livelihood of an entrepreneur starting a business. Also various institutions offer funding, e.g. Tekes for research and development work. We at KEHY know what kind of support is available for each company in our area and how to apply for it. And here's what's best for entrepreneurs: we offer our services free of charge.
In addition to various business-related advantages such as logistics (Imatra is located near the Russian border), world-class opportunities in R&D & Education (Lappeenranta University of Technology, two universities of applied sciences and specialized vocational colleges offer specific education for all fields and levels) and a growing network of energy technology and environmental engineering companies in the area, Imatra is also a beautiful place to live in. As you can see in the picture above, the city is situated in a breathtaking landscape with magical forests, clean rivers and lakes rich in fish. With its various kinds of cultural and sports events and the numerous wellness businesses, it is fair to say the area offers recreation possibilities and spare-time activities for everybody.
Finland is full of such opportunities and worth a closer look – not only in business terms
Sven Langbein moved from Germany to Finland six years ago, is fluent in five languages and has founded two successful companies since then. Today he works as a business expert for Imatra Region Development Company (KEHY). In his spare time, he is usually on the road with his band Dark Ride Brothers, who just returned from their first tour of Germany.