Starting a business in Sweden – Been there, done that!
Following on from our guide to starting a business in Norrland, Nicola Foleher offers her experience of starting up in Skellefteå.
My big dream when my family and I moved to Skellefteå from the UK was to become an artist and illustrator.
I pictured myself living in the beautiful rural countryside, surrounded by gently clucking hens, a couple of curious cats and endless forest, and I would have a soul-warming career that felt like utter joy! A bit pie in the sky perhaps but so far I am hitting a lot of those targets! We have the forest, the animals (plus a dog!) and now I have the delicate seedling of a new business that is slowly blossoming.
‘Panic set in’
I had experience of setting up businesses in the UK but here I found the process, on the surface at least, to be very intimidating. I had a very poor understanding of the language (Google translate doesn’t always cut the mustard) and even less idea of how the tax system works. Not feeling like I was in control really made me feel rather anxious and I often felt like throwing in the towel before I even began. It is very easy to feel like you have no roots or security when you don’t understand the bureaucracy and way of life in the place you are setting up home. Panic set in and I put on my procrastination crown!
Eventually I decided to reach out on Facebook in the local expat and friends group. I needed to find out where I could get help and guidance and I was not disappointed! To my surprise I was delighted to discover that there is an abundance of help available!
Verksamt.se is loaded with lots of fantastic information and tutorials from accounting to insurance and I scoured it, reading everything I could. Next, I booked an appointment with Marianne at Nyföretagarcentrum. With regular meetings she guided me through everything! She helped me with my business plan, creating a vision and registering my business. Marianne even helped me fill out all the forms that were in Swedish and explained all about taxes and pricing my products accordingly. Her patience was invaluable.
‘So much help on offer’
Frustratingly, things go a lot slower here than in the UK! Almost a month passed before I received a call from Skatteverket. The chap I spoke with had a couple of questions but was so friendly and helpful that within an hour of our conversation my application was granted. It was a joyous feeling, finally I was beginning to feel like I was bedding myself into society and becoming a part of the gang! The relief was great! My number one tip is to communicate!
‘Be brave and dream big’
Pick up the phone and call someone who has the answers you need – people are really happy to help and I have had many lovely, helpful conversations along the way. Seek out your people. Facebook and Instagram are great ways to connect with other like-minded individuals who perhaps work in the same field or who have their own businesses and can help you out if you get stuck. And finally, be brave and dream big!