The basics of the business environment in Finland
Many of the issues faced by entrepreneurs with foreign background are sometimes so self-evident to native Finns that they cannot even recognize them as problems. And many public servants are reluctant to serve a client in any other language than Finnish.
Entrepreneurs with a foreign background are often unaware of some particular features of Finnish business environment. These features may surprise even if one has previous business-expertise from some other country or one has a business degree.
Before entering into practicing business in Finland in more detail, it is well worth while to take a look into some specific features and practices of the Finnish business environment.
A safe environment for business
Finland is acknowledged to be one of the least corrupted countries in the world. People are also generally well educated, and they are quite aware of their rights.
It is generally recognized, and also expected, that the rule of law is strictly followed by the authorities. This means, for example, that the authorities have a responsibility to advice everyone even if one was a subject of an administrative action or decision. Also, all subjects should be heard before making any administrative decisions. There should not be any arbitrariness from the Finnish administration.
The business environment is therefore quite predictable and a businessman should be able to concentrate in running the actual business operation -provided, of course, that the businessman understands and takes care of its public duties, and understands the present economic climate and conjunctions affecting in the country. This is important as Finland is a country relying heavily on its exports.
The biggest problems for foreign entrepreneurs
The biggest problems people face when setting up or running a business in Finland are likely to be related to language and culture barriers.
Most of the documentation and websites are still often available only in Finnish, and many of the public servants are reluctant to serve a client in any other language than Finnish. Many of the issues a foreign background entrepreneur faces are also sometimes so self-evident to native Finns that they cannot recognize the issue being a problem or even an issue to a foreign background entrepreneur.
There are several public and private organizations which give free advice to anyone who wants to start or run a business in Finland. Often, however, these free services are of general nature and do not usually go deeply into details of one’s business. This is the reason why a foreign background entrepreneur might also want to consider using private business services.
Consult a private expert
If you face any major administrative action or inquiry related to your business and you are a foreign background entrepreneur, you should immediately consult a private expert (preferably a business-lawyer or a public accountant).
It is most economical and most effective to attend to any matter raising up with a Finnish authority immediately at the beginning, and before it evolves to anything bigger and more serious.
Practical points you must keep in mind
- Public servants are not your enemies when conducting business in Finland. All authorities have to follow the rule of law and have a responsibility to advice even if you are a subject of an administrative action. Discrimination is strictly forbidden.
- In Finland all subjects must be heard before making any administrative action or decision.
- If you face any major administrative action or inquiry related to your business (for example a tax-inspection), you should immediately consult a private expert. It is most economical and most effective to attend to any matter raising up with any Finnish authority immediately at the beginning, and before it evolves to anything bigger and more serious.
Where to contact?
If you are facing an inquiry or some action from any authority and you do not feel comfortable dealing with the matter yourself, or you seek any other advice related to your business, please feel free to contact the authors of this article through the email address [email protected]