Entrepreneurship is not a genre for every man or woman. The world’s shortest route to work from a thought to an action is just too long for some. Others will lose their night’s sleep when they have to live in uncertainty. Some find courage and taking risks only in the dictionary. The rest are horrified by the thought of selling themselves and their own competence. Not everybody is fit to be an entrepreneur. There is nothing wrong with that.
In past decades masters of economic sciences did not become entrepreneurs in Finland. Even I got a vaccination against entrepreneurship as a student in Helsinki School of Economics in the seventies. There were some entrepreneurs among business college graduates, even more among business school graduates. But most, like my father-in-law, had only a primary school education.
My father-in-law grew up in Karelia on the other side of the eastern border. When he grew up, he founded a company on this side of the border. Thanks to hard work, courage and perseverance the company avoided pitfalls, grew and succeeded in hard competitions. Even when the company employed over one hundred people he knew every employee by name. The founder has died but the company is still going on.
My first taste of entrepreneurship took place when I sold spring badges for the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare as a seven year old lad.
– Would auntie buy a spring badge, please, was my confident sales talk.
I hung on to their sleeves like a bur. I sold so many badges that I even got free tickets to the Linnanmäki amusement park as a bonus.
I became an entrepreneur after having considered it for a month. My lengthy job had just ended unexpectedly. My business idea was to do whatever which generated revenue. This was in 1995. The local paper in Kangasala wrote an article about me. It was titled ’As an unemployed person I would earn more’.
I decided to give 100% to it for a year. I discovered that it will take two years before one will see whether it flies or not. Now the flight has continued over two decades as a chain entrepreneur with four companies.
One highlight I experienced already at the very beginning of my entrepreneurship. My press release had attracted a news reporter from YLE to come and interview me in Tampere as I was having a skating school for small children. Getting to the radio was a big boost for a starting entrepreneur.
Another time I took a paper order to a bookshop.
– We did not know that you are so rich, a sales lady said to me without warning.
For a while I was puzzled. Then it flashed to me. The local phone company had published its news magazine. They had a picture of me on the front page standing in front of a huge business building. On the pages inside I was pictured by a conference table with 26 chairs. For some reason the staff in the shop had figured that I own the real estate. I stayed cool and maintained my image.
I never made it to the tax pages in November where well earning people are listed. But I have enjoyed immensely a good mental health and self-realization.
There is a demand for start-ups and having an entrepreneurial mind these days.
Two frogs were playing in the kitchen. They fell into a big bowl with even edges. Efforts to climb up from the bowl did not succeed. One lost hope, gave up and drowned. The other one persevered, swam and swam. Eventually the cream hardened under its webs. So, the persistent frog was finally able to jump out of the dish.
Do you hear the call?
The author, Mikko Loikkanen has a business degree from the Helsinki School of Economics (Aalto University). He has worked in a small leadership role in a big corporation and in a big leadership role in a small company. He has been an entrepreneur since 1995. He has worked in the field of import, business hotel and av&it with his three companies. In recent years he has taught and counselled starting entrepreneurs how to launch their business.