Born and raised in the US, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Helsinki in 1987 at the tender age of 15. The move wasn’t an easy one for me and at the time I told myself that I’d leave as soon as I was old enough. Fast forward 35 years and I’m still here. Not only has Finland become my home, it has found its way deep into my heart. I share similar values with my adopted country and there’s not much you can’t find here – except for a decent chocolate chip cookie.
At least that’s how it was until May 2016, when my teenage kids and I decided to try to do something about it. Enter, Ugly Cookie. After many blissful months of taste-testing and slowly playing around with the idea of making cookies my next career move, in 2019, I quit my job, registered the company and since then, we’ve been making loads of dough.
Looking back, I guess I became an entrepreneur because I was pretty comfortable with my life and getting a bit lazy. I remember thinking that if I’m not careful, I might spend the next 20 years zipping through life on autopilot. That thought nagged at me and scared me so much, eventually I decided to try something completely new and different for me.
When the Covid pandemic hit Finland, we lost 75% of our orders overnight as cafés, restaurants and hotels shut down.
I don’t want to gloss over the fact that there were and continue to be hardships. When one problem is solved, you can be sure another one is just around the corner. What I have learned from being an entrepreneur is that I am completely accountable (there’s no one else to blame) and to keep moving forward no matter what.
In Finnish, the word for entrepreneur is yrittäjä, I loosely translate it as “someone that tries” and I love that way of looking at it. In my business, I try not to worry too much about things and try not to allow any situation to paralyse me.
When faced with a particularly daunting challenge, I first try to acknowledge and accept it. I then focus on convincing myself that a solution can be found (even if it doesn’t seem apparent or likely) and then I keep taking small steps until a solution inevitably presents itself.
A concrete example of this resilience happened last year. When the Covid pandemic hit Finland, we lost 75% of our orders overnight as cafés, restaurants and hotels shut down. To compensate, we changed our production and packaging processes, which allowed us to focus on retail food stores as our main customer segment. At the same time, we opened a webshop to engage directly with our most passionate customers.
Even if you don’t want to become an entrepreneur, I encourage everyone to adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset not only in our work but overall in our lives.
Many people say that as an entrepreneur, you are always working. In my experience, that is not true. Working times are definitely more unconventional than a traditional desk job but the amount of hours is not necessarily more. The best part of entrepreneurship for me is the freedom to decide my own hours and what I want to work on. This is something that I don’t take for granted and appreciate daily.
Even if you don’t want to become an entrepreneur, I encourage everyone to adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset not only in our work but overall in our lives. Sure, the world needs entrepreneurs, but we need all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. But if we could all learn to be more entrepreneurial – to try harder – there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together.