Heikki Väänänen | Founder
My latest Forbes article looks at why Finland, a country renowned for its hard-to-break-through culture, less-than-desirable climate, and difficult-to-learn language is one of the best places in the world to do business.
HappyOrNot is an international company servicing thousands of customers all over the world. While we have a global outlook and have scaled on a global scale, we are very proud of our Finnish roots, and strongly believe that the support we have been able to foster in our home nation, and the Finnish culture we have implemented within our team, have enabled us to expand out of the Nordic market.
Finland thrives on innovation and collaboration and is renowned for offering a vibrant and friendly startup ecosystem. It does an incredible job of providing government support options that aim to encourage people to open new businesses, rather than present roadblocks that discourage innovation. Many organizations including Business Finland, Finnish Enterprise Agency, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, and Enterprise Finland all offer free business advice to anyone that requires it. Startup grants are also available to ensure that new business owners are able to make a living during the early stages of operation.
For existing business owners and budding entrepreneurs alike, networking is considered very effective in Finland, owing to the country’s less dense population and its focus on more meaningful and innovative industry events. Both personal and professional networks are often very tightly knit, enabling those doing business in Finland to create significant and long-lasting relationships with potential collaborators and customers, and helping to create a sense of community within every sector.
Furthermore, Finnish culture also plays an enormous role in the way businesses are run. Not only do we hold an ingrained mindset that defines our national psyche and character, called Sisu (strength of will, determination, perseverance, long-term thinking and acting rationally and with integrity in the face of adversity), unlike other countries around the world, working late in the office is not considered something to brag about. Spending every possible hour of the day working causes burnout and allows very little time to focus on personal development and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. As such, regular working hours are 8am – 4pm, with many companies being very flexible and allowing staff to work around a schedule that best suits them.
Whether you are a grad student with a great idea or an employee looking to climb the corporate ladder, Finland has become a global hub for entrepreneurship, generating consistent, positive change in the world and helping its citizens to become pioneers in internationally competitive fields.