Short survival guide for new entrepreneurs

When I had just moved to Finland, without a job, I was desperate to find “something” to do, whether one calls it working for an employer or working independently. I was trying both: applying for jobs and thinking of how to make a living by myself.  It took me three months to find what is still my current job, but in the meantime entrepreneurship crossed my mind.

I recently handled a startup case that brought me back to that time. It was a good feeling to know that after all these years and after working with many different cases, I’m able to look back at that situation and give a piece of advice to that “old me” that was thinking of a startup. Here are some recommendations that I hope will be helpful for people considering becoming entrepreneurs or who are having difficulties making it work.

Be ready to fail… and to wait for results

As tough as it sounds, startups involve risk. If you are not willing to take risks, this is not for you. It may take several attempts until you get it right, and it can take time to reap the rewards of being an entrepreneur. This is most likely the reason why a startup was my plan B when I moved to Finland. I wanted to see results immediately!

Stop boiling the ocean

Ideas, ideas, ideas… You can spend the whole day thinking about new things to do. That’s fine. BUT, you also need to focus. If you try to do everything, you most likely won’t manage. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Take time to analyze your options and be realistic. Ask several questions: Is there a real need for your product? Do you have access to the target customers? Is your product different from what’s being offered by the competition? And a critical one, do you have the capabilities to develop the product? Here you need to think from the skills and financial point of view, either with reference to yourself or with the help of another person. If I want to build the next Ferrari, I will need more than just good ideas.

Incorporate the lessons learnt

You also need to incorporate all the lessons you have learnt. If you try something and then drop it suddenly to start something new again, you are not really giving time to grasp what went wrong and what you need to change in order to develop your product and service. Again, focus is important!

Consider all the available help

Fortunately, you are not alone in this journey. Governments are increasingly acknowledging the value and new jobs that entrepreneurs bring to the country, and support for startups is growing. It can be difficult to find where to start, but if you are in the Nordics, I strongly recommend that you take a look at this report prepared by KPMG for Nordic Innovation. It gives a good picture of the startup environment in the Nordics, and even what options there are to get financial help.

Being an entrepreneur is a tough job and I truly admire the passion and courage of people embracing this journey. I do hope these few tips can be of help.


Claudia Salto
is an Assistant Manager at the KPMG Global Strategy Group. She has experience in Operations Planning, Procurement, Change Management and Process Improvement. She has worked for several international companies in industries such as Telecommunications, Retail, Consumer Durables and FMCG. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family and friends and travelling to sunny places that remind her of home.

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