How does it really feel to become international?

Blogs December 27, 2011

Fondia Stockholm

It was 1,715 day ago when we first publicly announced our plans to go international one day when the time was right.

What have we been doing all this time? We’ve grown, gathered courage and accumulated resources. We’ve made plans, fine-tuned our concept and processes. We’ve learned – a lot.

During these 1,715 days there were times when we impatiently asked ourselves: If we can operate successfully in several Finnish cities, why would a city outside the Finnish border be any different? Then the next day, we’d get cold feet again.

I had always imagined that the steps towards internationalization would be all glitz and glamour – cameras flashing, enthusiastic hand-shakes, formal speeches. Perhaps I would even get the chance to cut a silk ribbon with a pair of giant scissors surrounded by a powerful audience in the honor of opening our first international office.

The d-day of internationalization

When the day of Fondia going international finally arrived on December 9, 2011 it was very different from what I had expected. The whole company was in Turku celebrating our company’s Christmas party. I had just been to the sauna and when I walked into my hotel room, I bumped into Fondia’s first international employee who had just flown in to meet his new colleagues. Instead of the formality I had expected, the moment felt very informal and uncomplicated. Perhaps crossing cultural borders wasn’t as big a deal as I had anticipated.

Our international reinforcement fearlessly exposed himself to our corporate culture during the Christmas party. Also our existing staff got a chance to experience internationalization, when our corporate language unceremoniously and naturally turned into English. It was apparent how proud they were to see Fondia becoming international.

Having said that, we are aware that we still have a lot of work to do before becoming truly international. At the same time, however, I feel that people are often too focused on future targets without taking a moment to enjoy what has already been accomplished.

I strongly urge all Finnish growth companies to take a leap into becoming international. Even more so, I encourage them to be bolder than the rest of us by planning less and doing more.