I’m Carita Peltonen, the founder of Metsä/Skogen based in Siuntio, Helsinki. Entrepreneurship has been in my DNA for over 20 years already. I founded my first company in 2000 because I was tired of unfocused leadership. While I was expecting my second child, I decided that I had had enough – I want to do that better.
I wanted to develop as a value-based leader so that people and sustainable development are at the heart of all the company’s operations. At the same time, I felt a responsibility to ensure a salary for the team, myself and our partners. The same principles of responsibility and people-centredness also define my third and current company, Metsä/Skogen.
In the spring of 2018, I fell ill with severe burnout. I felt defeated and I didn’t want to see people at all. Instead I spent time in the forest, hugging trees and touching surfaces. The forest gave me power and I started feeling the ground beneath my feet again. I realised that I would make it through this.
Sustainable business and ambitious business goals are not mutually exclusive.
And surprise, surprise: entrepreneurship called my name again. There and then I decided, perhaps a little childishly, that I would take the forest to the city for those who needed it. That idea gave birth to Metsä/Skogen – a multi-sensory forest experience that we are going to take to the world’s metropolises to empower busy people.
I could summarise the lessons I have learned from entrepreneurship as follows:
1. Sustainable business is the only option for the future.
2. Even if money creates inconvenience, do not make compromises when it comes to venture capitalists. Find investors around you who share your values.
3. Sustainable business and ambitious business goals are not mutually exclusive. For example, we were able to establish relations in Japan during our first few months and the first orders have already been completed. Now off to Singapore!
4. Make sure you are surrounded by people smarter than you. Do not try to do everything yourself but instead create an atmosphere where the whole team can challenge their expertise and perspective as well as bring them to use. This moves the company forward.
5. Entrepreneurship requires dedication and you should not approach it without enough determination.
6. Dare to dream. Do not give up but fight with your senses heightened. Mistakes belong in the beginning, but you must fix them and adjust your direction.