Dip Your Toe into Employing Yourself: Light Entrepreneurship

By Iida Jokinen

Light entrepreneurship, although not a juridical term, has become an established concept by invoicing services. The phrase stems from the idea of working entrepreneurially with a lighter bureaucratic burden than what first pops into your mind. Basically, it means you do your thing without the paperwork related to company-based operation.

As a light entrepreneur, you put a price on your work and find your clients. The service takes care of the actual invoicing, along with things like taxes and pension contribution. In exchange, you pay a fee of your profit for the service. That’s right, a fee of your profit. Most invoicing services do not have any other fees.

This is another aspect of the lightness: the financial risks are null.

For me, light entrepreneurship started when I found people who wanted to pay for my text. I was already at the stage of invoicing when I woke up to the reality that I had no legal way of charging the company. Times were busy and I was in the middle of moving to another country — the last thing I was looking for was to engineer a company for this one gig. Long story short; I quickly found an invoicing service that worked in both of the languages I typically work in, made an account and an invoice, and was hooked. I pay 5% of profit per gig to the service, and I am delighted — let me repeat that — delighted to pay that amount for the simplicity of it all.

Maybe you have time for artistic endeavours or some light-hearted programming over the summer. Maybe you want to earn some extra during your studies but are not human-friendly enough to be a cashier.

Whatever the situation, I find light entrepreneurship the ideal way of doing what I love to do, and not doing what I don’t (read: bureaucracy). If, along the way, you want to rev it up and become a private entrepreneur, just take your business and do it. In the meantime you can take the lighter route.

And on that route, being in the right company plays a big role. I’ve invoiced writing, photography, and public speaking, all of which I do independently. Yet, I didn’t get those gigs by thinking about how I’d like to do them. The first job was an epitome of serendipity. I mentioned that “I write” on a coworking breakfast, and later someone told me in a party that their company needed someone to write about a topic I know of in Finnish.

The moral of the story is two-fold. First, be vocal. Blurt out what you like to do whenever suitable. Whenever suitable means surroundings where what you say is somehow interrelated. Pitching in the middle of a cozy summer house brunch? Don’t be that dude. Instead, mention your knack for language teaching in a tutoring group of international degree students. Create a simple website you can refer people to. Gather some recommendations from people who know your track record. Again, if you have no track record (yet), don’t insist on getting a gnarly compliment from your grandmother. Find ways to exemplify your skills in other authentic ways.

Second, be around like-minded people. Similarly entrepreneurial people are often looking for someone to cover the areas they are not talented or interested in. In Tampere area, you can meet such people at the Y-kampus sites of the three university campuses. Tribe Tampere also hosts an array of events for entrepreneurial-minded people in its P47 space. Further, the city of Tampere and the now-transforming T3 university campuses offer useful lectures and events for learning more — no experience or clear goals needed. The key is to get in and see what’s out there for you. Go ahead, dip them toes!