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
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).
- 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)
- More about the registration process and other useful advice directly from Skatteverket: “Starting a Business in Sweden“
- Further useful tips for registration and administration at Business Sweden – “Running a business in Sweden”
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.
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!
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:
- Drivhuset (for students)
- Facebook groups (e.g. “starta eget i (your city)”, “företagare i (your city)” etc.)
- Your municipality's website, and there more specifically näringslivskontoret, office for business matters
… 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.
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