Introducing... Starting a business in Stockholm

Does the dream of your very own business in Stockholm seem unattainable? It may be much, much closer than you think. Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia - and its possibilities are endless.

Published: Mon 15 Sep 2014 15:20 CEST
Introducing... Starting a business in Stockholm
A business meeting in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank Sweden

So I've finally settled in here in Stockholm. I've got my posh person number, a decent apartment, and I even opened a Swedish bank account. But something's missing.

Missing? In your new life in the capital of Scandinavia, one of the most beautiful cities of the world? But it's simply magical!

I know, I know. I love it here and I don't want to sound ungrateful. But I have a dream...

And a song to sing surely. Yes, we know that tune. What seems to be the problem? What's the missing puzzle piece?

It's the ever-elusive fantasy of entrepreneurship! I want to start my own business.

Ah, that's it. Well, like they sang, you moved to the right place. Stockholm is a haven for startups. The tech scene is absolutely booming, and there's a plethora of events and meetups for like-minded people.

Think about it. Skype and Spotify came from Stockholm minds, not to mention the creators of Minecraft and Battlefield. And then there's iZettle, Wrapp, Magine, Klarna...

I was actually thinking about a cupcake shop. 

Oh. Well. That's fine too. Swedes do have a sweet tooth, and Stockholm is overflowing with opportunities of all kinds. The market here is as diverse as the city itself.

The open-minded Swedish culture, combined with Stockholm's thriving innovation scene, means it's heaven for all types of business. You could invest in retail, cleantech, logistics, hospitality, whatever you like.

No matter what floats your boat, as they say, the metaphorical waters of Stockholm present unique advantages.

But won't it be complicated? I don't know if I can handle all the work. Swedish bureaucracy already has me on my knees.

Actually, starting up a business in Stockholm is very straightforward. You may be opening the doors of your new company within three weeks.

Seriously? How is that possible?

It's quite simple. Stockholm loves business. Your first step is just deciding whether you want a subsidiary, or limited liability company (aktiebolag in Swedish), or a branch, a division office of a foreign company (filial). Unless you're thinking of franchising a business from back home, chances are you'll want to opt for a subsidiary.

Goodness gracious, save me from the jargon. Can I get a bit more explanation on this, please?

Of course. Luckily for you, the good folks over at Invest Stockholm have compiled a glorious database of everything you need to know, from business costs and taxes to how to register as self-employed. Or if you'd rather get involved with a merger, acuisition or expansion, they can help you out there, too.

This sounds too good to be true. There must be a catch. Don't I need a special work permit to start a business?

Nope. Even as a non-EU citizen, you do not need a work permit to be self-employed in Sweden.  But you do have to submit a special application alongside your residence permit application, with a detailed business plan and proof of the capital needed to start your company - not to mention funds for living expenses.  

You will first be granted a one year permit, which you can renew if everything goes according to plan. And after those first two successful years, you are then eligible for a permanent residence permit.

Doesn't sound half bad! But what if I already have a residence permit?

Well then what are you waiting for?

Good point. Where do I start?

With some priceless advice about entrepreneurs and startups from the city of Stockholm. And copious amounts of coffee - you're about to embark on a mighty Swedish journey. 


This article was produced by The Local in association with Stockholm Business Region.


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