In this episode, the host Namrata Sethi discusses Light entrepreneurship with Isabel Beddard from Eezy. How to get started and the benefits of light entrepreneurship.
NS: Namrata Sethi
IS: Isabella Sillstén-Olufuwa
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NS: Hello and welcome to Finnish Your Business. In our podcast, we leave no business unfinished. I’m your host, Namrata Sethi, and this podcast is brought to you by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki Business College, Aalto University, and the Shortcut. The project is funded by Uudenmaan Liitto. Here today we have joined by our guest. She’s from EEZY, Isabella.
IS: Hello, and thank you for having me. Doing a podcast is completely new for me, but it’s lovely to be here and tell you more about EEZY Kevytyrittäjät. In English it’s light entrepreneurs. Yeah.
NS: Yeah, thank you so much for joining us. If you could please tell a little about yourself?
IS: Yeah, so I’ve been with EEZY for just over three years now. I’ve seen huge changes even within the three years in how light entrepreneurship has developed and seen how it keeps growing all the time. So yeah, I’ve really enjoyed doing what I do. My job is to advise people about anything related to kevytyrittäjyys in Finnish, or light entrepreneurship in English. It’s really fascinating, no two days are the same basically.
NS: That’s great. And Isabella, what does entrepreneurship mean to you, and why is it important?
IS: Well, entrepreneurship is… To me there’s the light entrepreneurship side, which I advise people on. Which is a very flexible way of invoicing your work or being in sort of, working for yourself. And then there’s the entrepreneurship which means having your own business ID, and then being a more, having more responsibilities. But when it comes to both light entrepreneurship and then entrepreneurship, it means being your own boss. Managing your own work schedules and having to market your own work. Really, it’s quite tough. But at the same time, it’s very rewarding. Because you can… At the end of it, after a day full of hard work, you can really pat yourself on the back and see the results of your own efforts. I think if you really have the determination and just keep going and have the drive, then I think it’s… For anyone, it’s a really good journey.
NS: Yeah. And how does EEZY help entrepreneurs?
IS: Well, our job is to do basically all the bookkeeping for our users or our clients. So basically when somebody registers to our service, we take care of sending their invoices to the customers, that they’ve acquired themselves. We also pay out their salaries. So how it differs from being an entrepreneur with a business ID is that we then take care of the VAT side and the taxation. So we deduct the withholding tax for example. So they don’t have the similar responsibilities as normal entrepreneurs would have. So a lot of people, what they do, is they use our service to just get some clients and try out their ideas. And then later on, if they want to apply for for example startup money or start their own business, then it’s completely fine. So at least then if they’ve tried out their ideas and they can… It’s a good, sort of trial period [laughs]. But basically what we do is we take care of the boring paperwork side of things.
IS: So that people can concentrate on doing their own work. And then they don’t have to worry about pretaxes and other big responsibilities. But the YEL is one thing that they do have to take care of –
NS: Okay [laughs] –
IS: But I’ll get to that later on.
NS: Alright. Yeah, it’s always good to like, you know, outsource these things so that when you’re just getting started, it’s good to have some kind of help and assistance.
IS: Yes, definitely. A lot of people in Finland, they’re a bit scared of starting their own company because of the responsibilities and the paperwork side. Because other people, they want to concentrate on just doing the work. But then we come and help them with taking care of that side, and so that they can just manage their work schedules and marketing and so forth.
NS: And at what stage can an entrepreneur come to you?
IS: So, we advise them to register as soon as, before they start actually working. Because we give, through our service they get the insurances. So they have the accident insurance and the liability insurance, through us. So it’s always a good idea to do the registration before you start your actual work, because then you know that you’re covered by our insurance. Because there are lots of different professions where they actually require for people to have a valid accident or liability insurance, so it also covers that. And registering doesn’t cost you anything, so you can do that at any time. There’s no running costs.
NS: If you could elaborate a little more on what is light entrepreneurship?
IS: Well, the light entrepreneurship term is actually… I mean, entrepreneurship is never light. It’s always –
NS: Yes, definitely [laughs] –
IS: [laughs] It always has its own, you know… You have to do the work to get clients –
NS: Yes, definitely –
IS: -or to actually become successful. It’s never an easy path for anyone. So it actually comes from, light entrepreneurship is basically first to… when people don’t have to do their own bookkeeping. So we care of that side. So in that way it’s lighter than being a standard entrepreneur with a business ID. So that’s where the light word comes in.
NS: So when you say, like, business ID, is it like toiminimi?
IS: Yeah, the standard form of entrepreneurship is when you have your own business ID. And your, for example, toiminimi or osakeyhtiö, as they say in Finland, or kommandiittiyhtiö. So those are the normal… associations for an entrepreneur. But as a light entrepreneur you don’t have your own business ID, at least when you’re invoicing through EEZY. I know there are some services who offer this extra option of being a light entrepreneur and then also having your business ID. But with us it’s just basically, we take care of the bookkeeping side and then you don’t have that business ID when you’re invoicing through us.
NS: Alright. And like, who is it for and for what situations?
IS: So our service is for anybody who doesn’t have large investments. So for example, if you wanted to start your own café or if you wanted to establish, for example, a clothing store. In those cases, our service is not suitable for you because there’s so many different investments and expenses to take into account. But if you want to invoice for anything that’s, like, for example building work, or if you want to do teaching yoga on a weekend, or personal training for example. I mean, there’s so many different fields of work that you can invoice. But basically the restrictions apply to those professions which need certain licenses. For example, if you want to be a real estate agent or if you want to, you know, to have a store of your own, which require those big investments that we can’t unfortunately… Well, we have the restrictions to handle. So there’s always those limits. But we can always, if you don’t know if your idea or the field of work that you would like to invoice, if you’re not sure then you can always call us. We can advise you on that and see if it would work through us.
NS: So, how is it different from employment or starting a company?
IS: So, with us you don’t have an employment contract. You’re working for yourself. But we still, we pay out your salary, so from a taxation point of view, in a way you are… you are not in an employment contract, but we do pay out your salary. So from a taxation point of view, you are… how would you say? [chuckles] In Finnish it’s palkansaaja. In English I’m not sure what the term is… But anyway, we pay out your salary and then again, from the Kela and TE office perspective, you’re an entrepreneur. So there’s different perspectives from different authorities as to what light entrepreneurship is. And then of course, there’s the pensions authority, whose point of view is also that you’re an entrepreneur. So then YEL insurance should be taken if your yearly income from any sort of entrepreneurial work goes over a certain amount.
NS: Okay. So like, you said that you do offer these insurances like the liability one and the accident one, right?
NS: And while you are using EEZY as a light entrepreneur, you have to take the YEL insurance as well?
IS: Yes. So the threshold or the minimum amount for the YEL insurance this year is 8063,57 euros. That’s if I remember correctly. But if your yearly income goes over that amount, then the YEL insurance is compulsory. And that’s what accumulates your social security and your pension as an entrepreneur or a light entrepreneur. So light entrepreneurs also fall into the, or are liable to take the YEL if they exceed that minimum amount per year.
NS: And can I choose to do light entrepreneurship while I’m working?
IS: Yes, of course. So a lot of people, they do it as a… like a side hustle. So they have a nine to five job for example, and then on the weekend they want to do something else, like for example, teach yoga. Or if they have a hobby that they want to earn a bit of cash from, they can do it as a light entrepreneur. And then it’s a lot easier than having to have that, you know, establish a business ID. So they can just send a few invoices to their clients and if they want to do it, for example, for a month, then that’s fine. And then they can just… they don’t have to think about it again if it’s not for them. And so it’s very flexible in that way. So a lot of people, they get their main income from light entrepreneurship and then some people, they send one invoice. And you know, then… [laughs] then they don’t… then they do something else. I mean, it’s very, very flexible.
NS: Good. Is there like a time limit that you can only do light entrepreneurship, ‘till a certain time, and then you have to establish a company?
IS: Not really. The only advice I would give is that if you do start getting more larger expenses and investments, then that’s a good time to start your own company. Because then it’s a lot easier to get those expenses, you know, the deductions for those expenses. Whereas if you want to purely concentrate on invoicing, do work invoicing, then I mean, light entrepreneurship is a great option for that.
NS: Yeah. I have a lot of freelancer friends. Like, who are using these services.
NS: And one of the things which they always ask is, we do not know if I can build my international clients also using this service. So is that a possibility?
IS: Yes, that’s actually a good question. Because if you have a client overseas, in any country apart from Norway [laughs] –
NS: [laughs] Okay –
IS: Norway is the only exception because of taxation reasons.
IS: But if you have any clients or a company you want to invoice in another country, then it’s also completely fine. So then, in that case, you would just have a… You would fill out this invoicing draft through our website as usual. But then if it’s a company which is an EU country, then you would need their VAT number. And then it can be sent with zero percent VAT. But we can… If you want to invoice a company overseas, then we can always, you don’t have to remember that now, we can then send you more information. And you can give us a call, but it’s –
NS: Even if it’s outside the EU?
IS: Yes. So any country… I don’t think there’s any other restrictions other than Norway, but if the work is done in Norway or completed in Norway, then you can’t unfortunately invoice a company over there. But if the work is done in Finland, then it’s possible to invoice a company in Norway. So that’s…
IS: But [chuckles]…
NS: Tiny details.
IS: Yeah [laughs]. It’s like those little things that… But you can always ask us if you aren’t sure. But as far as I know, there’s no other restrictions with any other countries within the EU or outside the EU.
NS: So if I move to Finland, I have recently moved to Finland, and I… What would I require if I need to take up light entrepreneurship?
IS: Yeah, that’s a good question. So if you’ve just moved to Finland and you’re looking to, for example, do freelancing or you just want to get started with, for example… there’s a company and they don’t want to offer you a permanent employment relationship at this stage but they’re interested in working with you. Then in that case, you would need to get a Finnish social security number and a tax card. Those are the requirements to use our service. And then also, if you come from outside of the EU, then you would need a residence permit. It needs to have the unlimited working rights. So those are good to keep in mind if you want to work as a light entrepreneur and you have just come to Finland from overseas. Because in some cases, it is more preferable to start your own business ID or establish a business ID. But if you’ve been here for a little while and you have your tax card and everything, then you can start doing light entrepreneurship. And then maybe later have a business ID if that’s a better option.
NS: Yeah. I think this kind of really encourages you to test out your ideas and, you know… or without much more fear, because most of the work of bookkeeping and billing, which is kind of, I sometimes feel, a little tedious. Or people get, you know… a little bit scared of, is taken care of by you guys.
IS: Yes. So I mean, we were established over ten years ago and just started very small. And since then, I mean, it’s just grown and grown and grown. Now, light entrepreneurship is a very known term and it’s, there’s a lot of light entrepreneurship companies around. I mean, we were the pioneers who started this whole kevytyrittäjyys in Finland. So we’ve had to really go through all the, you know, do the tough work with the taxations and getting different authorities familiar with this whole new way of working. Because I mean, before it was only just the standard way of having your own company. But now, I mean, light entrepreneurship is… Everybody, well, most people know what it is at least. So it’s been really, it’s amazing to see where in ten years, of how this way of working has completely changed entrepreneurship in Finland. And I’m sure there’s similar companies overseas as well.
NS: Yeah. And what kind of entrepreneurs are you dealing with in your day to day work?
IS: Well, we have, I mean… fields of work from, I mean, I haven’t even come across these different occupations before I started working for EEZY. I mean, I just got, there’s different titles or occupations I’d never even heard of before. So, from construction work, that’s a big area. I mean, a lot of people, they work for different construction companies and then they do the billing through us. And then also we have personal trainers and many people who do marketing, copywriting, photography… Doing different sales work. I mean, the list goes on and on. I mean, there’s so many different fields of work that are possible through us.
NS: Yeah. And if I’m not sure that, you know, if light entrepreneurship is for me. So is it like a way that they can just reach out to you and then you know, you could guide them?
IS: Yes, of course. I mean, you can always call us where… I mean, we have an office in Ruoholahti. And also, you can contact us through chat or calling us or email. We always answer, or we call you back on the same day if we’re not able to take your call right at that minute. But it’s always our promise that we always call you back within that same day. [chuckles]
IS: And then, we really want to give you, like… We want to make our light entrepreneurs or our customers feel like they’re really like a part of a big family. Because we want it to be as effortless and easy as possible, as like our name represents, EEZY. [laughs]
NS: [laughs] Yes, EEZY. Yeah. And what would we say, that what is like the best thing when you are considering light entrepreneurship?
IS: So the best thing… That’s a good question. Hmm, it would be… It’s to maybe think of, what is it that I want to do? What is… I think people have become a lot braver when they think about turning their ideas into reality. So I think to start with, have a really good think about how you can get customers, how you can market your work. And what’s your way of being an entrepreneur or a light entrepreneur? And what is it that you really want to do? How can you grow as a self-employed person? So I think that’s a good way to start. And then put up, I think it’s good to maybe have a website. And start small, smart talking to people and contacting companies, and really being active. And I think that’s the… [chuckles] Surely, I mean baby steps. That’s, I think, the key to then, and determination. Don’t give up, always. And look for new ideas. I mean, we live in a world where it’s constantly changing and you have to keep up with everything. And keep up with, you know, the digital world. So always stay on track and just make sure that you take holidays as well. Because I think with light entrepreneurship as well as the standard way of working as an entrepreneur, I think you sometimes have to remind people to take holidays. [chuckles]
NS: I think that’s that a very good point that you said, that you know, because entrepreneurs are so busy.
NS: And it’s good to remind them that you have to take care of yourself as well.
IS: Yeah. I mean, it’s so important because otherwise you don’t know… I mean, we live in a society where, especially when you’re working for yourself, it’s so easy to just keep going and going and going. And then suddenly, I mean… You can only give as much as you, I mean, taking care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, then you can give more, I think, to your customers and as an entrepreneur.
NS: Yeah, that’s very well said. And this just brings us to the last question, that what advice you would give to an entrepreneur in five words?
IS: I thought about this for a while, and I think take care of yourself is definitely one. Because I mean, if you don’t take care of yourself and you don’t take care of your own well-being, then how can you be of service to others? How can you be your best self? And I think when you really take time and schedule your workload so that you’ve got that time set aside to just be, you know? Do something completely different. Go away on holidays and, I mean, when it’s possible. [chuckles]
IS: But I mean, that’s where it starts, I think. When you can really put time aside to nourish your own… take care of your own well-being. Then you start, and don’t try and rush too much into becoming an overnight success. Always remember that it’s small steps, and then don’t try and… [laughs] Just make sure that, you know, one step at a time every day. And I mean, in five years, you could be in a completely different place. [chuckles] But yeah, everybody, all entrepreneurs I think have started small.
NS: Yeah, that’s true.
IS: And not expecting too much from day one. Just having small goals and going by that, I think, is a good rule.
NS: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Isabella. Thank you for, you know, just sharing these wonderful insights about light entrepreneurship. And thank you so much for joining us.
IS: If you want to go and check out our website, it’s kevytyrittäjät.eezy.fi. We have loads of information there. We have, you know… And you can do registering with your netbank codes if you feel like this is, sounds like a good idea. And also you can, everything basically happens online with our service. And it’s got all our contact details, so feel free to give us a call if you have any questions at all. We’re really friendly, we’re a friendly bunch. And we’re really happy to help anybody who has, even if you have any crazy idea [chuckles]. You can always give us a call.
NS: Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure we will be, we’ll add the website in the description as well.
IS: Yeah, yeah. No problem.
IS: Thank you very much.
NS: Thank you for, it was really nice to have you.