Starting a Business in Sweden – Tips for Non-Swedish Entrepreneurs

Do you think about starting your own business in Sweden? In this post, you find tips how to get started and personal experiences from my business journey as a foreigner in Sweden.

How to start your own business in Sweden

Requirements

To be able to run a company or be self-employed in Sweden you have a personal identity number or coordination number (more info here, Swedish Tax Agency Skatteverket).

Steps

  1. Decide which kind of enterprise you want to register. Choose between:
    • enskild näringsidkare (sole trader)
    • aktiebolag (limited liability company)
    • handelsbolag (trading partnership)
    • kommanditbolag (limited partnership)
    • ekonomisk förening (economic association)
  2. Registration
    1. Register your business at Verksamt.se
      Get your registration through the website verksamt.se (in English). They have excellent advice on their website and will guide you step by step.
    2. Register with the Swedish Tax Agency Skatteverket
      Check out this page on Skatteverket (in English)

Useful links:

Personal experiences and advice

Useful skills to start and run a business in Sweden

If you don't have any business experience or education, I strongly recommend to join an entrepreneurship or “start your own business” course to get familiar with the requirements and framework of running a business. Ask Arbetsförmedlingen or your local municipality which institution or organisation offers these courses in your region. They usually either offer courses themselves or direct you to an alternative organisation with a similar program. If you want to go the fast route you might consider online courses or publicly available infos on YouTube etc., which might do the job for you just as well or even faster. Search for “starta eget kurs” online.

Personal experience:
Since I already studied business administration and entrepreneurship in Germany and Sweden, I had already a good base to build my Swedish business knowledge on. Yet, in order to understand Swedish rules and processes, I joined an entrepreneurship course at my university in Sweden. Every Swedish university has a branch of the organisation Drivhuset which supports students with the development of their business ideas. If you are a student in Sweden, check out what your local Drivhuset can offer you.

Another important aspect is the understanding of the Swedish language. Yes, English is widely understood in Sweden, even most agencies have sufficient English skills or documents in English. But learning Swedish – or at least understanding it – will help you a lot when you want to gather relevant information in your branch or niche. So, learn Swedish!

Is Swedish easy to learn? Yes (and no) – here is why

Understand your niche – market research

If you target Swedish customers, learn about cultural and demographical differences. The rules from your old country might not apply in Sweden. Find out what's different and where you have to adjust your product or marketing communication. Check out trade organisations (branschorganisationer) in your area. They usually offer useful data and connections.

Another great resource for data is SCB, a public Swedish agency that collects all kinds of statistics in Sweden: SCB, Statistiska centralbyrån (Statistics Sweden).

All companies in Sweden can be found in this register: allabolag.se, filter or select regions and business areas.

Networking in Sweden – connect with other entrepreneurs

Find people with experience or those who have similar struggles as you. Get out and meet Swedish as well as business owners with an international background who have gone through a similar process already before you or have a good understanding of your particular business field in Sweden. Those connections can be very valuable, particular in times when you can feel a bit lost in a foreign country.

How to build a network in Sweden

Go to entrepreneur events. Check out:

… just to name a few.

Go to a few events here and there. There will be breaks where you are supposed to mingla, mingle, while having a fika (Swedish coffee break), where you will be able to ask others how they solved their business issues.
Good to know: check out my guide to small talk with Swedes.

How to make friends with Swedes

Meet and greet

In Sweden, sending emails is not always the most efficient way to get the required information quickly. If you don't receive an answer within two days, pick up the phone! Make the call! Or, even better, consider showing up at the reception desk at the office of an organisation in person and ask to speak to speak to someone who is in charge of the area where you need expertise in. My personal experience is, having eye-to-eye conversations accelerates processes in Sweden a lot.

Learn more about Swedish working culture, here

More about Sweden

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

My Book About Swedish Culture & Quirks

For example, in this book you’ll learn how to:

  • Interact with Swedes, without embarrassing yourself
  • Celebrate Swedish traditions
  • Flirt like a Swede