Starting a business in Finland
Entrepreneur’s residence permit
If you want to work as an entrepreneur in Finland and you are a citizen of a country that is not an EU member state or one of the Nordic countries, you will need a residence permit. Read more about residence permits on InfoFinland page Non-EU citizens.
Develop a business idea
If you want to establish a business, consider carefully whether your business idea is a good one. Consider too, whether you have sufficient professional skill and experience. It is important to be very familiar with the laws governing your field of business and entrepreneurship in general. It is also important to know your customers and sales methods.
Don’t forget that there are also risks involved in entrepreneurship. Adequate financing and careful planning are essential.
Make a business plan
In a business plan, you analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your skills as well as the properties of the product, goods or service you will offer. Consider who your customers are and what kinds of wishes they have. Also consider who your competitors are and what kind of products and operating methods they have.
The most important part of a business plan is the operation plan of your company. Consider carefully how, where and on what kind of premises your company will operate. Consider the production equipment or labour you will need. What kind of advertising media will you use to promote sales? You must also find out whether insurance covers the operational risks.
Also consider how you will organise bookkeeping and plan finances. How will you monitor the realisation of your plans? Write down all these things in your business plan.
Help in making a business plan
More detailed advice on producing a business plan can be obtained from the various business advice centres. You can also download entrepreneur guides in at least Finnish and English from their websites. You can also find a business plan template and other document templates there.
Ask for advice from Business advice
Free business advice is available to everyone in Finland. Advice is offered, for example, by:
- Finnish Enterprise Agency (Uusyrityskeskus)
- Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY centres) (Elinkeino-, liikenne- ja ympäristökeskus, ELY-keskus)
- Employment and Economic Development Offices (TE Offices) (Työ- ja elinkeinotoimistot, TE-toimistot)
- Enterprise Finland (Yritys-Suomi) (through its website and by phone)
If you have a good business idea, contact your nearest business development agency. There, experts will help you develop your business idea, do market research, calculate profitability and survey financing. You can also get support for considering whether to start a company.
Business advice is given in Finnish and Swedish and, at least in larger towns, also in English. Sometimes, it may even be possible to get business advice in other languages.
Courses for entrepreneurs
Different establishments organise courses and information events for entrepreneurs, and these are very useful for people who are starting a business. The subjects covered in the courses include, for example, how to make a business plan, launching business activities, bookkeeping, company taxation, legal matters, marketing, sales and customer service.
Financing of the company must be carefully planned before you start a company. It is important for there to be sufficient capital at the outset. Company financing may also be partly in the form of donations or loans. When you apply for financing, you must have a sound business plan ready.
Banks and Finnvera grant loans to entrepreneurs who start a company. Finnvera is a financing company owned by the state of Finland. It grants loans to new companies and to companies that are already running. If your company has the preconditions for profitable operations but you do not have enough capital or securities to get a loan from a bank, ask whether Finnvera could give you a loan or sponsor your loan.
Start-up grant (starttiraha)
When you become an entrepreneur, you can receive a start-up grant to ensure your own livelihood during the beginning of your business operation.
Apply for a start-up grant to your local Employment and Economic Office. If you are a client of municipal employment services, you can apply for a start-up grant from your municipality’s employment services. You can receive a start-up grant for six months at a time, for a maximum of 12 months. The amount of the start-up grant is approximately EUR 750 per month and tax must be paid on it.
The conditions for receiving the start-up grant are:
- becoming a full-time entrepreneur
- you have sufficient competence in entrepreneurship and in the field of business in question (e.g. education, work experience)
- the TE Office or municipality sees potential for profitable business operations
- the financing of your company and any required operational permits are in order
- you need a start-up grant for your own livelihood
- you live in Finland and are starting a business in Finland.
You are not eligible for the start-up grant if:
- you are a full-time entrepreneur before the start-up grant has been granted to you
- you have other sources of income (for example salary or student financial aid)
- you have tax debt or a non-payment record
- you will receive sufficient livelihood from your business from the very beginning.
If you are going to apply for a start-up grant, contact the TE Office or the municipal employment services as soon as possible. More information is available on the Job Market Finland website and from the telephone service of Enterprise Finland.
Ministry of Economic Affairs and EmploymentInformation about start-up grantLink redirects to another website
Select your company form
When establishing a business, the company form, name of the company and choice of field of activity have to be chosen. When choosing the company form, you must consider, for example, the number of founders, capital requirement, division of responsibility and decision-making, financing and taxation.
The various company forms in Finland are proprietorship (toiminimi), partnership (avoin yhtiö), limited partnership (kommandiittiyhtiö), limited company (osakeyhtiö) and cooperative association (osuuskunta).
When you are considering the choice of company form, you are strongly advised to contact an establishment offering Business advice.
Read more on the InfoFinland page Company forms.
Light entrepreneurship refers to a situation where you sell services yourself (for example, cleaning, translation or renovation work) and work for customers like an entrepreneur, but you do not start your own business. In this case, you invoice customers through an invoicing service company. The invoicing service company sends invoices for your work to your customers and handles the payment of taxes on your behalf. However, you must take out self-employed person’s pension insurance if your income from business activities is at least EUR 8,575.45 per year (2023).
Light entrepreneurship can be a good option for you if you want to try out entrepreneurship before starting your own business, or if you want to work as an entrepreneur alongside another job or studies.
Make sure whether you are an entrepreneur or employee
Sometimes an employer will want you to work for it as an entrepreneur and not as an employee. In this case, you should make sure whether you are indeed an entrepreneur. A simple assignment agreement does not make you an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs decide themselves how, where and when they work. They are paid a remuneration for the work performed, the amount of which they have negotiated in advance with the person commissioning the work. Entrepreneurs are not entitled to overtime pay, paid annual holidays or sick leave. Entrepreneurs must take care of their own social security and their own pension and insurance contributions.
If you cannot decide for yourself, for example, how and when you work, it is possible that you are an employee and not an entrepreneur according to law. In that case, your employer must give you the status and benefits of an employee, such as paid annual leave and sick leave. If you are unsure whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, ask the occupational safety and health authority for help in clarifying your situation. An employer cannot force you to become an entrepreneur.