One of the northernmost countries in Europe, Finland is internationally renowned for its clean air, excellent educational system, and addictive mobile games. But for all its strengths, Finland is still seen as a small market within Europe and the world, and it is often overlooked as a starting point for companies entering the European market. However, when you take a peek under the forest- and lake-covered surface, you may find Finland to be the gateway to Europe you were looking for.
Those who enter the market – either by establishing their own Finnish business entity or collaborating with an existing Finnish company – will find a land rich with business opportunities, straight-talking customers, and a hunger for innovation.
- European access: As a member of the EU, all Finnish business licenses and regulations are valid throughout the entire European Union, allowing for ease of expansion and collaboration.
- A highly educated population: 92% of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, and 66% go on to complete higher education, the highest rate in the European Union.
- A high rate of English proficiency: Finns rank 9th in the world for English proficiency, according to the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI).
- High digital penetration: 96% of Finns use the internet, and almost all services have moved online, making Finns highly digitally literate and making integration with systems via APIs the norm.
- Faster route to market: Being a small country means regulatory parties are more reachable, granting faster access and decision-making for permits and grants.
Challenges you can face in Finland
There are some challenges to take into consideration when thinking about entering the Finnish market. The first of these is the Finnish language. As Finnish is only spoken in Finland, and has very few similarities with any language apart from Estonian, translating your solution into Finnish will offer your company little to no value in any other market. Some solutions have found commercial success within Finland without being in Finnish, but particularly B2C solutions will face pressure to localise.
Another consideration to expect in Finland are the high cost of labour and high expectations on employers. Salaries in Finland, and other Nordic countries, are higher than elsewhere in Europe, as are other living expenses. Finns and those accustomed to working in Finland demand a good work-life balance (this means you can’t expect your Finnish team to work evenings or weekends!) and other employer-supplied benefits, as well as positive workplace environments. Those high expectations go beyond work places, as Finnish consumers also have high expectations in terms of product innovation, design, quality, and price. The public also tend to be quite judgemental, in that if a consumer tries your product and is less than impressed, you’re not likely to get another chance to make a new impression. The way to avoid this potentially negative situation is to be highly confident in your product and customer experience prior to launching, and to conduct adequate user testing with Finns to establish a strong product-market fit.
Collaboration as a market entry strategy
While establishing a Finnish business entity allows you to capitalise on the grants available from public entities such as Business Finland, you may also decide to enter the market from abroad through partnerships and collaborative projects with Finnish companies. Many Finnish corporates are very open to collaboration with international solution providers within their fields, and these projects give the partner access to a pool of the Finnish company’s resources, possible licenses, and customers. What may start out as a POC or piloting project may result in a lucrative commercial deal within Finland and beyond.
Despite its unforgiving winters and high expectations, Finland is a great choice for companies looking for a small, digitally-enabled test-bed to use as a springboard into the rest of the Nordics and Europe. Whether you decide to establish a business entity yourself or enter the market through collaboration with an existing Finnish company, Finland has a lot to offer new market entrants. If you do decide to go the way of collaboration, Vertical can help to facilitate your projects through our extensive experience in collaborative ways of working.
Want to learn more about how we can help you in entering the Finnish market through collaboration? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!