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Anita Navaratnam
Managing Director, Sygeny Ltd

From the perspective of a foreigner living in Helsinki, here are ten useful tips for setting up a foreign backed company in Finland.

  1. Do your homework to understand what is needed to set up a business in Finland, as your partners outside of Finland would need to understand the different business practices. For example, accounting practices may differ as well as civil laws (in case of death, bankruptcy, etc.).
  2. Participate in startup events and lectures to get an idea of the availability of grants (when/how to apply), general setting up processes, etc., to help you get started.
  3. There are different company structures in Finland and it would be good to check which one would best suit your long term needs.
  4. If you are not a native speaker of Finnish or Swedish, please invest in a translator or a lawyer who help you with the translations and completing the initial forms, as you will come across documents that are in Finnish/Swedish only. Having a native speaker as an employee would also be beneficial in helping with the translations, but not necessary.
  5. There are service providers who do provide their services and products in English. The choices are limited although they’re starting to grow.
  6. Having a network in Finland who can help you will be important in the long run. Do join business communities like Amcham and others to be a part of a growing network, and they can help you to start building your network
  7. For foreign businesses, it’s good to find local partners who you could collaborate with on common projects as this will help build your credibility.
  8. There are a lot of events, talks, seminars, etc., available in Helsinki that are relevant to your industry/business. Some of these events are in Finnish. It would be good to use your existing network to help inform you on the relevant events happening in the city.
  9. Until your business is established, you will need to be very active in building and engaging within your business community. It would be good to plan to host your own events, or co-host events such as breakfast meetings, informal seminars, etc., to both market your company as well as to engage with the existing community.
  10. Once you have set up your company, established your network and community, Helsinki is a very cosy and easy city to live and do business in. If you have the time, do join in with leisure activities and clubs to meet people and learn more about Helsinki and Finland.

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