Successful Entertaining in Finland

Business meals are usually held over lunch and it is not considered to be bad manners to discuss business related issues over the meal. Despite the Finnish reputation for hard drinking, it is unusual for alcohol to be taken with lunch.

However dinner is a different matter and, if invited for dinner you can expect alcohol to be served. Finns tend to drink beer and vodka but wine has become ever more popular. Over dinner, conversation tends to steer clear of business topics and concentrate more on other issues. Sport and Finland itself are common topics for discussion.

No section on business entertaining in Finland would be complete without a mention of the Finnish sauna and its role in Finnish life. The sauna is a venerated Finnish tradition. (Business discussions may even be held in a sauna). Business lunch or dinner may be preceded or followed by a sauna. All Finns sauna naked and, although you do not have to sauna naked, it is considered strange not to. Finns insist on punctuality for social occasions.

As a rule, service is included in restaurant bills. Many people add an extra gratuity but this is at your discretion. (10% -15% is a reasonable figure.)

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Finland

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Finland punches above its weight and has done for decades. For a country with a tiny population, geographically remote and with an inclement climate the fact that Finland is considered a world leader in a number of areas is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the resilience and determination of its people.

Maybe Finland’s success is down to its world famous ‘sissu’ (read the country profile to find out what that actually is) or maybe it’s just down to the fact that Finland has been able to develop an education system that is globally envied and endlessly studied. Whatever the reason, Finland is in many ways remarkable. If you are looking for a market with an affluent, sophisticated consumer base which is technologically advanced and open to new ideas, then the idea of doing business in Finland should appeal to you.

Yet Finland is in many ways an enigma. Nordic but not Scandinavian; with a seemingly endless border with Russia but definitely not Slavic. Even the Finnish language has no similarities with its near neighbours. For these reasons Finland is often referred to as a cultural ‘lone wolf’.

Doing business in Finland can bring enormous benefits but Finns are notoriously circumspect. A better knowledge of Finnish business culture can help you overcome any initial reticence you might encounter and enable you to develop deep and long-lasting relationships. Finns are interested in people who are interested in Finland – so show an interest in all things Finnish and you will reap the rewards.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Finnish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips