Four lessons UK businesses could learn from the Nordics

The Nordic countries regularly top the world happiness indexes, while also sitting at the top of lists measuring economy and productivity. It’s no wonder, then, that businesses around the world tend to look for inspiration in the business cultures of countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. As you would expect, there are many subtle and not-so-subtle differences between cultures in these countries. However, there are some common themes that businesses in the UK looking to innovate may want to take note of.

Less hierarchy, more democracy

Nordic businesses tend to be arranged in flat structures, with little respect for rigid hierarchies or displays of power. Fundamental to business in these countries is the idea of trust. Employees trust managers to keep their best interests at heart, and managers trust employees to act independently and get on with the job. Decision making is done in a democratic manner. In Sweden in particular, everyone is expected to have their say in company meetings.

Communication is key

Following the reduced importance of hierarchy, lines of communication in Nordic businesses tend to be short, with colleagues always able to confer with management. This leads to a generally informal culture – employees are usually on first name terms with management, and socialising with fellow colleagues is expected. If your Danish business associate suggests you grab a beer after work, it really would be rude not to!

Ethics first

Nordic countries tend to have a strong sense of ethics, with a low tolerance for corruption and high regard for environmental issues. A downside of this is that reaching a decision can sometimes take a long time, as each employee’s take on a matter is valued and the ethical impact of each decision is carefully weighed.

Benefits and welfare

Nordic countries are famous for their excellent benefits and strong welfare systems. Sweden, for example, has one of the most generous parental leave policies in the world. All employees in Denmark are entitled to five weeks of annual leave. And in Norway, a policy of transparency regarding salaries has lead to narrow wage gaps and strong pay equality. Higher taxes supports the strong welfare systems to minimise the fear of employment gaps for those not in work. These benefits and the security of the welfare systems have lead to happier employees and, in turn, more productive companies.

Nordic values are increasingly influencing businesses world-wide, and businesses form the Nordic region are highly regarded in the UK especially. If you are a Nordic business thinking about expanding into the UK, you should speak to us. We have been helping Nordic businesses successfully launch in the UK for 20 years and would love to help you too! Contact Goodwille today to find out more how we can help you get started on the UK market.

3 challenges of setting up business overseas

Whether you’ve just moved to the UK and are looking to start a business here, or you’re the owner of an established business in Germany, Norway, Sweden or elsewhere that is looking for opportunities to expand overseas, setting up business in another country can be daunting. Developing an in-depth understanding of a country’s laws, politics, culture and the way they do business can take a long time, which you may not have if you’re looking to establish your company quickly. Here are just a few of the many challenges faced by business people who want to start a business overseas.

1. You’re not accustomed to the different laws

Of course you have done your research thoroughly, and you have more than the basics cemented firmly in your mind, but you may not know all of the subtle differences between trading laws in the country you have just left and the UK. It is these subtle differences that could affect your entire business model and the way your company will operate. You need to be fully aware of them so you can be safe in the knowledge that your business is legally compliant.

2. You aren’t familiar with the culture

Only after spending a considerable amount of time in a particular country can you fully understand its cultural nuances, so if you haven’t had that opportunity before setting up business, you may feel like you’re at a considerable disadvantage. Being familiar with cultural differences is important for even the most basic sort of communication, navigating business deals and solving problems in the workplace.

3. Hiring the right people

Recruiting the best people for your company is difficult enough in your home country, but it can be even more complicated when you’re in unfamiliar territory. Even if the language barrier isn’t a problem, you have to know where the best places are to look for candidates, and be able to determine whether they have the experience to fit your requirements.

Goodwille understand how difficult it can be to set up business in a new country, and we can support you every step of the way. We will help you to navigate UK trading laws, take care of financial administration, find the most suitable people for your company, and more. Get in touch to see how we could assist you.