Last year, foreign trade accounted for 40 % of Finland’s GDP. We are a small country with an open economy. We have benefitted greatly from the opening of world trade. Three factors speak in favour of that trend continuing further.
One, Finland is stable. We are the only AAA-rated Eurozone country with a stable outlook and we are the least Failed State in the world with the third most competitive economy. Two, the Finnish educational miracle ensures us the skilled workforce that we have. Three, it is our geographical location that makes us a gateway to Russia and Asia from Europe.
Let us also not forget that the state leadership in Finland is strongly supportive of the cause of internationalization of businesses. In short, our companies have the talent and the environment to succeed globally.
I am often asked as Minister for Foreign Trade what my best tips are for companies wishing to go international. Here are my big five.
First, show your enthusiasm and that you believe in what you do. I have done 50 trade promotion trips with 364 companies in the last two years. I often see that the companies able to both communicate their personal dedication and provide an appealing narrative get the deals.
Secondly, finding a proper local partner is essential. You need people who know the local business environment and have the contacts for your company to start. Also, contact the local Team Finland representative in one of 72 countries and regions. You will find them all on www.team.finland.fi.
Thirdly, do not just go to a distant foreign market because it is hot right now. Go, if your market research shows that you can make a profit there better than anywhere else.
Fourthly, focus on marketing and selling the product you believe in; adopt your message to local settings. Offer a holistic experience.
And lastly, tell people you come from Finland – trust me, it helps.
About the writer: Alexander Stubb is the Prime Minister of Finland and leader of the National Coalition Party
This article is from the August 2013 issue of Nordic Business Report. Read the full magazine here »