I make Finland a happier place to live, one home at a time. I am the CEO and cleaner of our family business, Koti Puhtaaksi Oy. In addition to me, our company has about 300 employees, one of whom is my spouse and five of my sisters. We have no external owners or investors – Koti Puhtaaksi Oy is owned completely by its 21 employees.
I firmly believe that fate drove me to become an entrepreneur. I had decided in 2009 – when I met my current spouse and then friend in Australia – that I would one day start a company. I didn’t know the industry or product of that said company yet. I also really didn’t know what I wanted to do – I was just deeply interested in entrepreneurship as a career. Me and my spouse later returned to Finland and started dating. So, technically, we were first co-workers and only then partners.
At first, I had to work hard to gain credibility. Customers and partners often assumed my spouse was the entrepreneur even though I was the CEO.
I started my business as a door to door sales of vacuum cleaners, from which I later switched (read: slipped) to home cleaning. In the beginning, I had to work hard to gain credibility. Customers and partners often assumed my spouse was the entrepreneur and CEO of the company, not me. At the beginning of my entrepreneurship, I was in my twenties, a woman and family-free – and I looked really young. Entrepreneurship was initially also financially challenging. The money we got wasn’t enough for food, and I didn’t get any support besides a small amount of starting money from the government.
We were rescued by a friend who lent us money at a critical moment. We were in the death valley and saw no way out of there. Based on this nerve-wracking experience, my best tip for entrepreneurs is to get a skilled mentor who is able to help you out in a difficult situation. A support network full of experts in their respective fields, other entrepreneurs, customers and friends is the most important thing for entrepreneurs out there.
The support of other entrepreneurs has been a lifeline for us. We talked a lot with other entrepreneurs about our experiences and pain points. We also boldly asked simple questions – other entrepreneurs have certainly considered the same thing as you at some point of their careers.
We were in the death valley and saw no way out .
In retrospect, we should also have set aside more capital in the beginning and made precise plans for the future of our company. You can get help – for example, an ELY center or a business center will be happy to help you and connect you with other entrepreneurs. Go through your plans with someone more skilled and ask those little detailed mind-boggling questions.
I think the myth of the endless vacation for entrepreneurs and a lot of money is the most frustrating of all the myths. According to the statistics, many entrepreneurs, especially small entrepreneurs, live below the poverty line. Money really doesn’t come through doors and windows, and you have to work on every euro. On the other hand, entrepreneurship is wonderfully free: I am free to decide what I want to do and when.
Entrepreneurship is wonderfully free: I am free to decide what I want to do and when.
My starting point for entrepreneurship is perhaps a little different than many entrepreneurs seen in the media. I haven’t attended a business school or any other miraculous university. I have a large family with many kids in the family – there were 15 of us in total, plus my parents. My parents are normal working class people. I am therefore all the more proud of what we have managed to build around our company without forgetting our own strong values.