Friday, January 30, 2009

Boiling It Together

Soup Ingredients
Originally uploaded by Anne Helmond
So, month 1 done as an entrepeneur. Some reflections are in order:
1. It feels so liberating to be in charge of your own schedule and work load. Everyne should at times try to define to oneself and others what you can do. It is good for your (professional) self esteem.
2. There is bureaucracy involved but you manage if you just get yourself into it. Good accountant helps. Taxation is not rocket science. Pricing is something I guess one learns only by doing.
3. Coming up with ideas and concepts is the best job ever. You also need people skills to make this work. But this kind of work is made for someone with a slight attention deficit because you have to stay alert and keep numerous balls in the air simultaneously.

So here is my Going Up and Going Down list from the first month:

- Lähivakuutus and Fennia: extremely good service doing exactly what an insurance company should do: take the worry away. Understanding that the salesperson should be the one knowing their product catalogue, not the customer.
- Cafes: I find writing in a cafe often more productive than at home. The buzz and soundbites from random discussions are inspiring.
- Verottaja: The Finnish tax authority has one of the clearest website around and superb customer service on the phone. Governmental excellence if you ask me. One of those things where regionalisation of phone service works - the ladies answering the phone outside the capital region are so relaxed and kind of motherly. "Don´t you worry, dear, it is all going to work out."
- Home food: Making pulla, macaroni casserole, meatloaf, meat balls with brown sauce and baking your own pizza is a splendid exercise after a long day in front of the computer.
- K-Market Kamppi: Sometimes size matters. When you have a big space in the centre, you can provide your customers with affordable organic products, fresh fruit and vegetables, great selection of beer and helpful meat&fish desk. Placing this market on top of the bus station and a metro stop is a wise choice.
- Demos Helsinki: cooking up a number of projects with them. People having this fresh and inspiring view on climate change and citizenship are hard to find.
- Blogs: Only now when I have more time for content, I realise really how great blogs there are out there. Some witty, some informative. Looking constantly for more but my current ones are there on the left hand side.
- Public transport: In Amsterdam I barely used public transport. But I must say that Helsinki has a punctual, well-planned and relatively affordable public transport system. HKL is the best argument against buying a car. And it is so much easier to read a book on a tram than on the bike.


- Nordea and OP-Pohjola: The beautiful idea of providing bank and insurance services from the same counter leads to the people at the counter not knowing the basics of the products they are selling and asking the customer to identify the products from their product catalogue. And hey, giving a pile of terms and conditions is not customer service - I could have printed them myself.
- Sonera: changing from Elisa to Sonera (for the iPhone) did not start too well. They for some bizarre reason "forgot" to process my application for two weeks and then I need to wait for my new phone for 3 weeks. What is the logic in individuals getting their phone directly in the store and business customers having to wait for weeks?

So all and all, we are strongly on the plus side. Next month should land a few big projects so we are all set to make this work.

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