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The Secrets of Scandinavian Success: 3 Business Tips From the Happiest People in the World

Business.com / Entrepreneurship / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How can we be more like Sweden, Denmark and the other northern European countries and find business success in our local markets?

Scandinavian people are really happy. But don't just take my word for it.

In a recent Prosperity Index survey, four Scandinavian countries were listed in the top 10 happiest countries in the world.

They were Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Some of the variables considered include economy, education, entrepreneurship, health, freedom and safety, among others.  

Another source, including the World Bank and World Economic Forum, put Scandinavian countries squarely at the top of the world’s happiest countries list.

The United States was on the list, but toward the lower half along with Canada, which begs the questions; why are Scandinavians so happy? And, how does their happiness impact their business success?

Some speculate their happiness is due to the emphasis the country puts on education and equality, free markets, higher tax and economic reform. Others claim it’s just the work ethic of the people that makes all the difference.

What we know is that it works. In fact, Scotland nationals stated that Scandinavian countries are a role model for what a free society should look like. So, how can we be more like Sweden, Denmark and the other northern European countries and find business success in our local markets?

Here are three Scandinavian business tips to set us in the right direction.

Related Article:Going Global: Building an International Footprint as a SMB

Buyers and Employees Should Be Protected

Two of the most important factors Scandinavians reccomend to foreigners doing business in their countries is to take care of employees and buyers. Denmark and Sweden have instituted laws protecting employees who leave, a big change from UK and American policies that only protect the employer.

Furthermore, customers also have more in place protections giving the seller the share of responsibility in ensuring a smooth business transaction.

Bottom line:

Take care of your customers and employees, above and beyond what’s legally required. Smart businesses already know that happy employees are the backbone of a successful company and customers can be your biggest, raving fans.

Be Open to Change

The market is always changing and the companies that can’t or won’t adapt to the newest technologies will always be fighting a losing battle. It’s not enough to join the crowd and jump into social media. Are you following the latest online trends, popular sites and viral news?  

The willingness to adapt to profitable trends is the best way to stay competitive. Alexander Kosten, a Scandinavian serial entrepreneur, says, “It’s all about thinking bigger than your current limitations. Whatever we are in the moment is limiting. We can think bigger and involve more people and find new opportunities we never even thought possible.”

Related Article:Your Reputation Is Your Reality: How to Strengthen Your Company's Public Image

Bottom line:

Be flexible, and open to changes in the marketplace. Failure to adapt can sink even the biggest, most successful businesses.

Speak to Your Local Audience…all Over the World

Localization is always a big tip when discussing business and online marketing, but don’t forget the importance of local language. This is particularly important if you have a global brand or a worldwide audience. Consumers are more likely to buy content that has been customized for their native language and their own way of speaking and spelling.

According to one website, a Scandinavian client saw its revenue jump 62 percent in the first year just from translating the website into Swedish when entering the Swedish market.

Bottom line:

Know your audience, and give them what they want. Whether it’s content in their own language, or anything else, knowing your potential customers and offering them solutions they want and need is key in any market.

Think About Success Differently

In America, there’s this underlying notion that business success is proportionate to how much money you make and how quickly you acquire customers.

While that may be true to an extent, the key to overcoming your own glass ceilings may be in thinking about things differently. The community first attitude in Scandinavian countries is likely a contributing factor to their success and happiness.

Related Article: So International: Business Etiquette From Around the World


Rather than thinking about how to improve your bottom line, perhaps you should first think about how you can improve your customer experience and improve the marketplace.

Times are changing and customers have more information and options available than ever before. Today’s customers want to do business with companies whose beliefs align with theirs.

As a business owner, when you start thinking more about the community, by taking the lead in supporting social causes, sponsoring charity organizations and taking the lead on ventures that benefit others, you build real relationships, a loyal tribe of followers and a customer experience that can’t be bought with fancy marketing or gimmicks.

Are you ready to step outside the box?

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