The Finnish start-up scene
Finland has a booming startup scene and the government strongly encourages people to become self-employed and start their own business.
Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, and Oulu are the best places to start an IT, media, tech or bioindustry company. If you are interested in the tourism industry, Lapland is a great option as millions of people visit every year.
How do you set up your own business?
You can set up a business in just a couple of weeks in Finland. Here’s what you need to do.
1) Create a business plan
The first step is to form an innovative and solid business plan. A good business plan will increase your opportunities for investment and help you launch your business.
If you want to apply for a Start-up Permit (for citizens of non-EU/EEA member country without a residency permit), you need to have a good business plan in order to apply.
2) Choose a business type
The next step is to choose the type of company you want to establish. The company type determines how your business is organised, e.g. who is responsible for loans (you or the company) and if you own the company by yourself or with others. Read our guide on business types in Finland for more information.
3) Secure funding
If you need funding, the state and various organisations offer different funding options. Most are loan based but the state does offer a start-up grant (starttiraha) that can help you out during your first year.
4) Register your business
If you can speak Finnish or Swedish, you can complete the registration online, if not, you will have to use a paper form. You will also have to pay a handling fee which varies depending on the business type.
5) Do you need a license?
Finland has a high level of regulation and a lot of companies need to acquire certain permits and licences. The licence and permits depend on the industry. For example, if you are setting up a business in the food industry, you will need to get certain food safety permits, and so on. Contact the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for more information.
6) Employing others
If you want to employ people, you must organise pension insurance cover for them and pay a percentage of their salary as a contribution. You will also need to pay approximately 50% of their gross salary to the state in the form of “employment fees” (työnantajamaksut).
Setting up a business in Finland may seem like a quick process, but there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be submitted in either Finnish or Swedish. It is highly advisable to find a Finnish or Swedish speaking business advisor who can help you out.
There are also national services, such as Business Finland and TE-Palvelut, who can give you advice and help you fill out all the forms. In Helsinki, the city offers business advisors under a department called NewCo.