Welcome to the International Business from Finland podcast with Mark Wiltshear. Where I take you behind the scenes of my solo enterprise, or toiminimi in Finnish. Welcome, also, to season 2 of the show.
This week, I wanted to take you back a couple of months and give you some insight into how I’ve experienced summer 2020… People listening from outside may find it strange, but a four-week summer holiday is quite normal for workers in Finland and five or even six weeks is not unheard of. While this is undoubtedly nice for individuals, it does have an effect on business during the summer months. Everything sloooooowwwwws down.
Gradually and yet all at once, I found my calendar for June and July becoming more-and-more empty. I decided that if I cannot do any invoiceable work, I will focus on meaningful work that will have benefits at a later date.
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Download MP3 of Summer 2020 – ‘Meaningful’ Work & Support for Small Firms
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Finnish Summer Holidays
One thing to know about Finland, is that the holiday entitlement is very generous compared to other countries. People listening from outside may find it strange, but a four-week summer holiday is quite normal for workers in Finland and five or even six weeks is not unheard of. This is often supplemented with an additional holiday bonus (on top of your salary that you are paid while on holiday.) Originally paid to incentivise workers to return to manual jobs after their vacation, nowadays, it’s used to help you get through the extended break. While this is undoubtedly nice for individuals, it does have an effect on business during the summer months. Everything sloooooowwwwws down.
Although this is the first full year that my toiminimi is supporting me and my family. It is not my first summer working in Finland – I have experienced this slowdown before and I anticipated it this year. I planned to manage the income of my toiminimi (solo enterprise) and stretch it through the summer months. To explain, with this form of company, from the income I need to pay the VAT I have collected, income tax (ennakkovero), entrepreneurs pension insurance (YEL) and various smaller bills. After this everything else is, essentially, mine. Rather than taking everything out each month, I decided to take out a set amount per month as a salary and leave the remainder in the company to get me through summer. What no-one predicted at the start of the year though was the Coronavirus crisis.
I am based in Seinäjoki, Etelä-Pohjanmaa, which has been affected much less than many places around the world. But, my work is not in this area, it reaches outside of Finland to areas that HAVE been more affected. This has meant that COVID-19 hit my turnover in various different ways. I had renewal orders for ongoing, repeat business that was delayed (hopefully, delayed and not cancelled), people I was working with were furloughed (lomautus) until Autumn and project work was pushed-back until after summer.
Focus on Meaningful, Useful Work
Gradually and yet all at once, I found my calendar for June and July becoming more-and-more empty. I decided that if I cannot do any invoiceable work, I will focus on meaningful work that will have benefits at a later date. Although WIISE (the Work Integration for Immigrants Service) has not officially started yet, the WIISE team has started working with a couple of individual immigrant entrepreneurs in Etelä-Pohjanmaa. Mentoring during a company’s pre-launch phase and then acting as an ongoing Advisory group after launch, are two services we plan to offer when our Association launches in Autumn 2020. Using this quieter period to work on a pilot of these is certainly a meaningful use of my time.
I also decided to focus on developing new contacts for both Sales Development and Voiceover work. If you are reading to this after we connected on LinkedIn during summer 2020, then welcome! Thanks also for listening to the show and reading this article.
Financial Support for Micro-Companies in Finland
Once I got to July, though, I realised I would need some help to get through the quiet summer. Fortunately, the Finnish government has a couple of schemes that are aimed at solo entrepreneurs. Firstly, there is Yksinyrittäjän tuki (Solo Entrepreneur Support) a one-off 2000 euros payment, provided via the local municipality and which is available until the end of September 2020.
There is also Yrittäjän väliaikainen työttömyysturva (Temporary unemployment benefits for self-employed persons). If monthly income drops below 1089.67 euros, a solo entrepreneur can also apply for statutory unemployment benefit, which works out at about 33 euros per day. I will try to cover these in more detail in a later episode. While it might still be relevant and useful to other entrepreneurs out there.
So now we are back in August. In Etelä-Pohjanmaa, summer holidays are ending and people are starting to return to the office. Projects are, hopefully, about to restart and work can begin anew and, clearly, this podcast/blog has re-started. I’m hoping to bring you a combination of solo shows and interviews, covering the subjects of Entrepreneurship, International sales, WIISE and also my decision to apply for Finnish Citizenship (now that will be a journey!) If there is a particular subject you’d like me to cover, or a question you want me to try to answer, please reach out and let me know.
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