Starting a new business in Finland is relatively easy for foreigners, according to the conclusions of the latest survey about immigrants and entrepreneurship conducted by Suomen Yrittäjäat, the organization of the Finnish Entrepreneurs. Those foreigners interested in doing business easily find support from the institutions in the initial stages. The main difficulties, according to the results of the sample, appear in the later stages, while running the company.
The survey-based study was conducted among ninety immigrant entrepreneurs in Helsinki area, Tampere region and southwest Finland in November 2018. Respondents worked in many activity fields, from IT services to the primary sectors. Among them there were people involved in sectors such as consulting, education, tourism and catering, building, sales, retail and arts.
The majority of respondents (60%) had run their business for at least two years, while the other 40% for under a year. And their results were still very limited in terms of turnover: more than half reported less than 30,000 euros. Suomen Yrittäjät considered that low level of business partly due to the youth of the companies. However, among respondents there was also an important proportion of foreign business owners (26%) who reported turnovers over 100,000 euros.
"Worryingly high share of very bad ratings"
The study by Suomen Yrittäjät remarked that, when setting up their companies in Finland, the foreign respondents "did feel they received quite good assistance and support". But, when asked about their experiences of running a business in the country "the share of very bad ratings (from 0 to 3 on a scale of 0 to 10) was worryingly high, almost 30% of respondents".
The steps commonly considered easy by the foreign respondents included registering the business and opening a bank account. On the contrary, dealing with the Finnish tax authority (Vero) and receiving funding "were considered difficult", the survey says.
Reliable information difficult to find
Finding accurate and reliable information was another issue of huge concern for foreign entrepreneurs. For 46% of the respondents, receiving the correct information was found to be "difficult". According to Suomen Yrittäjät, "this indicates that information is difficult to find, or that is dispersed and possibly contradictory".
Other specific difficulties mentioned by foreign entrepreneurs included finding clients and premises, marketing to Finnish clients, dealing with profession an sector-specific-permits, hiring good employees and receiving support as operations expanded.
In addition to the above mentioned, some foreign businessmen also needed support in networking, accounting, understanding Finnish business culture, hiring employees from abroad and expanding into foreign markets. "In other words, there is a need for support in areas that are critical to business operations", Suomen Yrittäjät concluded.
The main difficulties mentioned in the study coincide with those identified Foreigner.fi entrepreneurship experts. In order to get more information on these issues, check our Entrepreneurs Guide.
The language barrier
The study also revealed that Finnish language has become an insurmountable barrier for many foreign entrepreneurs. When they were asked about the languages in which they would like to receive orientation, a broad majority (67%) named English. A quarter of them admitted they could manage with doing business in Finnish. Other respondents wished there were also services in languages such as Russian, Chinese, French and Arabic.
The services most used by foreign entrepreneurs in all the surveyed regions were those provided by the Finnish Enterprise Agencies, the tax authority and the unemployment services (TE offices).
The study also showed that most of the respondents were familiar to the local business and entrepreneurship advisory agencies in their region: NewCo in Helsinki area and Ensimetri in Pirkanmaa (Tampere region), were known by more than 60% of the respondents.