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A Sensible Starting Point

Sweden is a Scandinavian country boasting a population just under 10 million and a land mass of 172,756 miles. It’s also the world’s fifth happiest country, according to findings from the Happiness Report. For companies looking to break into international markets, Sweden is a great place to start. The Guardian’s Jon Card once said, “Scandinavia is, for many entrepreneurs, a sensible first destination when they are looking to expand their businesses through exporting.” While Morningside Translations recommends starting with Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian, or Korean, we recommend adding Swedish to that list.

The Demographics of Sweden

In recent years, the demographics of Sweden have undergone a radical transformation. A recent article in Business Insider summed it up pretty well in an article titled “Sweden Will Have To Become A Lot Less Blond.” As Swedes are typically more open-minded about immigration than other EU members, they’ve become a figurative temple for those fleeing persecution and warfare. In 2016, for example, the country granted asylum to more than 60,000 people. Combining that with a slowly declining birth rate and rising emigration, Sweden is quickly gaining a much more diverse population.

Benefits of Doing Business in Sweden

While Sweden is nowhere near the top of the population charts, its citizens are open-minded and forward thinking. They also tend to be prosperous. The average Swedish man, for example, makes about $4,000 per month; the typical woman, on the other hand, takes home about $3000. In terms of GDP per capita, the company ranks in the top ten. If you’re looking for examples of business success, look no further than Skype, Ikea, and AstraZeneca; all three companies found their start in Sweden. In addition to its prosperity, Sweden is able to offer globalized companies:

  • World Class Research and Development Opportunities: By sinking about three percent of its GDP into innovation, Sweden offers great opportunities for start-ups and future-oriented companies. Items invented in Sweden include automatic identification systems, adjustable wrenches, pacemakers, ultrasounds, and zippers.
  • An Enterprise Friendly Environment: According to the 2016 World Bank Report, Sweden is the ninth easiest country in which to do business. This is particularly true for modern or technical businesses. The country also boasts three things important to modern business success: great infrastructure, prolific internet service, and robust public transportation.
  • Open Minds and Wallets: As a people, the Swedes are open-minded about new processes and technologies. They tend to be early adopters of new gadgets and stand at the forefront of social movements. The Geert-Hofstede scale ranks Sweden at a 29 on Uncertainty Avoidance. This shows that the country is flexible and unthreatened by innovation. Meanwhile, on the indulgence spectrum, Sweden scores a jaw-dropping 78. This means that, on average, the Swedish are far more concerned with enjoying life than restraining themselves. This also leads them to value their leisure time and worry less about things like money and savings.
  • Strong Technology Infrastructure: People don’t call Sweden the Silicon Valhalla without reason. As of 2016, 93.1 percent of Swedes regularly connected to the internet. This makes them the 10th most connected country in the world. For any company offering digital sales, Sweden represents a safe haven.
  • An Excellent Location: Due to its centralized location on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden is a geographic hub in the Nordic region. Its proximity to the Baltic Sea, Atlantic Sea, and Central Europe, makes it a perfect spot for businesses with a personal stake in logistics and transportation. Better yet, as a member of the EU, Sweden makes it easy to transfer products across nearby borders.

Potential Obstacles of Swedish Localization

While Sweden offers ample opportunity for your business, it’s certainly not risk free. While doing business there is similar to doing business in the US or the UK, it’s certainly not identical. Like all independent nations, it has its own set of tax rules, labor laws, and buying behaviors. Outsiders to Sweden often struggle with its:

  • Complex Labor Laws: Sweden is a big believer in equality. It also stands firmly on the sides of unions and worker’s rights. For people from a less worker-oriented society, its ample vacation time, maternity leave, and workers’ rights might prove difficult to navigate.
  • Flatter Organizational Structures: For people used to rigid management structures, operating in Sweden can be a bit of a wake-up call. Employees are not afraid to make complaints, approach the CEO, or offer suggestions. If your company prefers a more rigid style of operations, it might be hard to adapt.
  • All-Consuming Humbleness: Bragging and showing off do you little good in Sweden. If your marketing team uses superlatives to advertise, you might need to change your script. This same aversion to bragging and grandstanding is also common in the interview, recruiting, and management process.


If you are an American or UK company looking to go global, you should think about starting in Sweden. It’s a country of wealth, open minds, innovative technology, and high levels of English skills. It also has a set of laws and beliefs that are conducive to rapid business growth. Though many of its citizens speak English, a Eurobarometer report concluded that 44 percent of Swedes refused to visit websites without a Swedish translation. So, if you’re eager to capitalize on all this country offers, it’s time to find a qualified translator.

Just make sure that your [project’s ready] first!

Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.

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