Checklist for start-up entrepreneurs
1. Skills and expertise
Make sure you have the right skills and expertise. Once you become an entrepreneur, you will need solid professional expertise or work experience in your line of business. You will also need entrepreneurial skills. These can be acquired, for example, on business training courses run by the TE Services.
2. Business idea
Consider your business idea and make sure that it is competitive. Think about what you are selling. Plan your sales. Identify your customers. Make a business plan.
3. Form of business
Find out which form of business best suits your situation:
- Comparing company forms
- Private entrepreneur: Sole trader; personal responsibility.
- General partnership: at least two responsible partners, shared responsibility.
- Limited partnership: at least one general partner and one silent partner; responsibility lies with the general partner, possible liability as a guarantor.
- Limited liability company: at least one shareholder, responsibility limited to invested capital, if any; in addition, possible responsibility as member of Board and liability as a guarantor.
- Cooperative: at least one person; responsibility limited to invested capital. In addition, possible responsibility as member of Board and liability as a guarantor.
4. Permits and obligations
Find out what permits, licences, mandatory notifications or professional qualifications are relevant to your business.
Take into account that some sectors have special obligations, some notifications must be submitted regularly, and some permits and licences must be renewed at certain intervals.
Make sure that you have enough money for the investments made at the establishment and start-up stages as well as working capital. You can use either your own capital or acquire external funding:
The Start-up grant is an allowance granted by the TE Office for a new, full-time entrepreneur.
A loan is suitable for investment and working capital. You may obtain one from Finnvera or from banks, for example.
Other forms of support can be applied for by contacting for example an ELY Centre, Leader groups or Business Finland.
The self-employed person’s pension insurance (YEL) is the basis for social security.
If you are hiring employees, remember the statutory (i.e. mandatory) insurance policies for employers.
Think too about possible voluntary insurance policies.
- The self-employed person's pension insurance
- The employer's statutory insurances
- Voluntary insurance for entrepreneurs
7. Unemployment security
Find out about personal unemployment security. Transfer from a wage earners’ unemployment fund to the unemployment fund for entrepreneurs within three months.
Find out what the tax implications are for the type of company you choose. Find out about the various types of company options and business taxation.
Get help from the tax office if you need to. You can submit notifications and requests to the tax authorities electronically, for example by using the MyTax service for tax returns, withholding tax and VAT declarations.
9. Business premises
Think carefully whether you need business premises and where they should be located. You may lease or buy the premises. Find out too if there are any official inspections required for the premises.
Pay attention to what you are committing to. Conclude agreements in writing and use experts for help if necessary.
Look into the relevant bookkeeping and financial administration issues. Unless you are a professional accountant yourself, use an accountancy firm.
When you are planning to recruit personnel, you should specify the tasks for which you need additional labour.
Remember the obligations of an employer and the laws governing employment, such as the Employment Contracts Act, Working Hours Act, Annual Holidays Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act and Occupational Health Care Act.
Take account the costs to your company that are associated with employees, such as salaries and related costs.
Remember possible pay subsidies about which you can ask, for example, the TE Office or your local employment services organisation.
Identify potential customers and target your marketing at them. Remember to look, for example, at demand, the competition and price levels.
Learn about marketing and sales principles.
14. Money transactions
Open a bank account for your company. If no share capital or membership fees are deposited at the start-up phase, you should register you company before opening the account.
If necessary, acquire for your business a payment terminal or a cash register and design an invoice template.
Find out too about invoicing and payments.
Register your company by submitting a start-up notification either electronically in the Business Information System or on paper, depending on your company form. You company will be registered in the Finnish Patent and Registration Office’s trade register, and you can also register it with the necessary Tax Administration registers.
If you are applying for a start-up grant, do not register the business before you receive a decision on it.
16. Protecting the product idea and knowhow
Protect your company’s products and knowhow from attempts at imitation. You can apply for intellectual property rights, using a trademark, patent or design protection.
You can use the services of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office to help you find out about existing patents, utility models, design rights and trademarks.
You may join trade organisations and network with other entrepreneurs. The trade organisations include entrepreneurship organisations, industrial federations and chambers of commerce.