Monday. 24.02.2020
El tiempo

Three out of four entrepreneurs cannot afford sick leave

Half of the single-person business' owners earn less than 2,000 euros per month before taxes. And 25% work more than 50 hours per week, according to a survey by Suomen Yrittäjät.

Three out of four entrepreneurs cannot afford sick leave

Succeeding in business is not easy anywhere in the world. And Finland is no exception, despite offering some advantages such as a lot of free advice and training for entrepreneurs and legal security.

The organization of Finnish Entrepreneurs Suomen Yrittäjät recently published the results of the survey that conducts every three years among its members who run single-person businesses.

The results show that Finnish private entrepreneurs share almost the same problems as their colleagues in other countries: long working days, low income, high fiscal pressure and difficulties in reconciling their personal and work life, which translate for example into shorter vacations or problems to take sick leaves.

Working while being ill is very common because taking a leave means stop earning money. According to Suomen Yrittäjät, only 26% of participants reported not having worked because of illness in the last year.

Service sector, the most common

The results of the 2019 survey show that the service sector is clearly the most common among single-person businesses, with almost three out of four respondents saying they worked in this field.

Operating as a sole trader is the most common business form, but the share of single-person entrepreneurs running a limited share company has risen in the past three years. Over 50% the single-person business owners surveyed had a degree from a university or a university of applied sciences.


According to Suomen Yrittäjät, single-person business owners’ income level has remained on roughly the same level as in the previous survey three years before: there has been a slight increase, but it is still low. Around half of all respondents said their gross monthly incomes were under €2,000.

Just over half of all respondents set their annual income for the purposes of the YEL entrepreneur’s pension insurance at under €13,000 a year. Only around a third of all respondents said they paid sufficiently high YEL contributions.

Uncertainty is another constant in the life of entrepreneurs, hence a good part of them prefer to save for tomorrow. 37% of respondents said they invested to secure their future after entrepreneurship. Other methods highlighted were savings and voluntary additional pension schemes.

Working while being ill

One in four participants also reported working an average of more than 50 hours a week. And only one in five reported taking four or more weeks of annual holiday. Working while being ill is quite common, according to Suomen Yrittäjät, with only 26% of respondents not having worked because of illness in the past 12 months.

Around a fifth of all respondents stated that they had a child aged under 12 in their families who had been born when the respondent was an entrepreneur. Of this group, 38% had not taken any parental leave. 20% of women had not taken maternity leave and 51% of men had not taken paternity leave.

Around 50% of all parents said that parental leave did not have an effect on their business operations, and only 22% of respondents had completely interrupted their business operations. 32% of women said that their paternal leave had not had an effect on their business operations, while among men the same share was 59%.

Barriers for growth

The appetite for growth among single-person business owners has remained high, with 67% of respondents saying they were seeking growth or aiming to grow as much as possible.

The strongest desire for growth was seen among the entrepreneurs under 35 years old. 90% of them said they were seeking growth. The desire for growth declines as the respondent groups’ age increases.

The sector with the highest growth appetite is retail, where three out of four respondents are seeking growth. The weakest growth appetite is displayed by the building sector (62%), and this has declined from the last survey.

Hiring staff

Single-person business owners say that networking with partners, launching new products or services, and hiring new staff are the most important means of growth.

The following factors emerged as the largest barriers to growth: inability to increase one’s own working time, the expense and risk of hiring employees, and how focused business operations were on the owner.

Roughly a third of respondents said they had hired an employee at some stage of their company operations, and 12% said they had used temps.

If you want to read the full text (in Finnish) of the survey by Suomen Yrittäjät, you can find it HERE