How an Entrepreneur is Born

Although Sweden is not my homeland, I spent here most of my adult life. I moved here in 1976 and little did I know that the seemingly insignificant village had such an exciting history. The place was quite famous within the country, due to this “strange” phenomenon.

The part of the country where I live is called Småland, Smolandia in Latin and is located in the southern inland of the country. The most typical features are dark woods, mainly firs or spruce, many lakes and red wooden houses. Traditionally this landscape used to be very poor, the earth was meager, stony and miserable and could not provide for a growing population in the past.

If you are familiar with the book The Emigrants by Wilhelm Moberg, you’ve got the picture. This was the part of Sweden from where about 1,3 million people emigrated to the USA between 1846 and 1930.

However, the people who stayed behind developed remarkable endurance and inventiveness.

Of course, they were never afraid of hard work, that’s a given. They had to learn to handle iron in all sorts of ways, including and most importantly, making wire.
Initially, the thread was pulled with the help of horse walks. Since the resource readily available was water, watercourses began to be used Around 1750 as a source of power. In the 19th century, rolled blanks could be obtained from another part of Sweden (Bergslagen.) Meaning the thread maintained a much higher quality than before. Therefore, nails whisks, handles for buckets, woven metal cloth were manufactured with better quality. Yes, everything made of wire!

Here we can start to track the beginning of the phenomenon known as “Gnosjöandan”, the Spirit of Gnosjo. Gnosjo is as well a small community, living and prosperous still today. It was here I used to live and learned what does this phenomenon means practically.

There are many different definitions; even many scientists tried to capture the essence of what this really is about and why just here the entrepreneurial spirit is so strong.

You could say that the Gnosjo spirit today is the attitude of the people and the companies that operate in this region. Philosophy on how to deal with challenges and problems, where you collaborate and strive to develop and make it a little better for everyone continually. An attitude that leads to a committed, entrepreneurial and company-oriented society, where it is perfectly okay to succeed! Ordinary people who do what everyone else should do too. Expressed in many different ways in everyday life. Some of the key factors would be:

  • To be motivated by the success of others
  • To be prepared to take our initiatives
  • To be ambitious and dare to be good
  • Being generous and helpful, frugal but never stingy, proud of accomplishments
  • To never give up and celebrate growth in the face of adversity

Now can we see some parallels to Compumatrix?

To work together to make things happen, the road from thought to action is not that long? If there is a problem, we will solve it.

Still, in the 70s and 80s, a typical feature would be many small factories and family businesses. Also many kept a machine in the garage or the basement where the family would make an extra income, manufacturing different parts as subcontractors mainly for the automotive industry.

My ex-father-in-law was one of these entrepreneurs. Usually, without formal education, they learnt as they went, being extremely flexible, working very hard and then doing some more.

That period was as well the one of most success and wealth, so many of the manufacturers or company directors would drive a Mercedes that it was jokingly called Gnosjo moped.

The picture changed somewhat when Sweden joined the EU in 1995. Some of the companies are gone, but many found another niche, developed new innovative products, maintaining high quality and competence. Changes will be inevitable, even in the future.

Some of the eldest companies are still in the same family, run by 3rd or 4th generation.

The unemployment in the region is always pretty low, certainly lower than in other parts of the country.

We are talking here about the extended region, including the neighbour villages as well. I worked for a company founded by a grandfather manufacturing washboards. The father added making some simple benches, and the sons expanded into one of the largest wooden garden furniture producers in Scandinavia.

The tradition is also kept alive through different events like an annual festival Water wheel day. Displayed is a living, industrial museum where the water wheels are still spinning, just like in the past. There, you may find even a theatre play written about the phenomenon, and that’s for sure that the vision of the future is very much alive.

There are certainly lessons to be learnt from history, and hopefully, inspiration gained for our community.

Maybe there exists something similar in other parts of the world, looking forward to reading about it in your comments.

About the author

Eva is a founding member of Compumatrix, with background in travel industry and finance. She speaks several languages and is interested in history, travel, spirituality and everything related to health, our changing world and cryptocurrency.

Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this, Eva. It is a very nice glimpse of your local history and the true entrepreneurial spirit that thrived through many challenges. We can all take a lesson from this and especially how our own Compumatrix compares having done the same.

  2. Thank you Eva for a very interesting post. I love to read educational and experience type posts about entrepreneurial business. Sweden is a beautiful country with people that are very much laid back and very friendly. when living in the old country, I met many Sweden friends that come to visit as a tourist.

  3. very nice read Eva — it is always fun for me to go back in time and learn how history and times have changed over years and centuries — and working in group or “family” here at Compu is also part of our success story and who knows maybe couple hundred years from now people will writing about Our CompuMatrix Family and how we created a story people talk about — thank you Eva —

  4. Eva, I enjoyed learning about Swedish history. It is amazing what people can do when the mind is confronted with a problem. The people took what they had and made a company that is one of the largest mfg plants in Scandinavia. Hard work will always reward you if take the correct steps to make a great product. Thank you for sharing the history of Sweden. When people are working together not against each other, the rewards are unlimited.

  5. Inspirational blog Eva! I lived in Småland for a few years, and I remember the expression “Gnosjö moped” very well. My husband and I (he is dead now) ran a gas station and campground for caravans and tents.
    There is a similar development in several places in Sweden, although not to the same high extent as in Gnosjö and the surrounding area.

  6. Thank you all for your kind words and comments, especially as it was my first attempt at writing a blog.
    Everybody knows Ikea so it’s worth to mention that Älmhult, where the founder Ingvar Kamprad came from, is located in this part of Sweden as well. He started completely from scratch too and the rest is history.

  7. Eva, I feel already I’m in Sweden, your blog is heavily loaded with lessons, I have enjoyed reading, the fact that the beginning demands a lot, it requires discipline to make it and achieve that goal. Thank you for taking us there to learn.

  8. I was born in Småland and it’s been a very long time since I heard about “The Spirit of Gnosjo”
    Many companies have come and gone but the spirit still lives on!
    I think it was even registered as a trademark for Gnosjo community…?

    1. Hi Björn, I was not sure about the trademark but looked it up and yes, you were right so I learnt something new as well.
      No-one except the local authorities of Gnosö is allowed to use it.
      Also Caroline Wigren, a researcher and lecturer at Jönköping International Business School has written a book The spirit of Gnosjö in 2003.

  9. “The Spirit of Gnosjo” holds a beautiful vibration in the way you tell your story, Eva. I am looking forward to the day I will travel to such historical and creative places. At times I believe the world needs an injection of such energy as this. Creational energy is contagious and if it could be a virus, I believe it is one we all would wish to catch!

  10. It is so true that it is extremely difficult to ever keep the people with the “Gnosjo spirit” permanently down. Even though all kinds of challenges and changes arise, I feel these people will overcome whatever is dished out. They will brainstorm together and solve problems, grow and confront adversity. Thank you for sharing the term “Gnosjo spirit”, Eva. I fully love the whole idea of what this is and means!

  11. Interesting story about your country Eva or let’s say the country you are calling now your home. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Swedish people is amazing and how they did true the past history. Many can learn from that and especially future generations. Even I am European I had never traveled to Sweden yet. It can still be on my travel list one day especially when we will have more dollars to spend with the soon opening of Compumatrix

  12. Thank you for your Swedish insight! It is a lovely read about my Swedish heritage, especially hearing the entrepreneur journey. There is an intrinsic desire to be a part of a community with traditions that leads to success for all. I feel fortunate to belong to the Compumatrix family as it the entrepreneurial community with the path to success for all of us.

  13. I don’t have any kind of parallel experience such as yours in Sweden, Eva, but what does certainly resonate beyond the interesting history you describe were your five bullet points that definitely cross over into Compumatrix.

    “Being generous and helpful, frugal but never stingy, proud of accomplishments
    To never give up and celebrate growth in the face of adversity”

    These two lines in particular feel extremely resonant with our company, though they all do. Hard work in the face of slow growth is what many of us were raised with, and carry as a mindset into what Compumatrix offers.

  14. Very interesting story Eva, I enjoy reading other people’s cultures and this is the first time I read about Sweden. Europeans are very resourceful people, winters are long and harsh and they have to store food, preserves, wine and other basic foods to last the long winters. When I lived in Italy, we only had a small refrigerator and only a small washer, women make lots of preserves during the summer, because once the season is over, you can’t find many vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, etc. The comfort of the modern age, was not widely spread as it was in America in the 70’s, people don’t have closets full of clothes, but they have selected woolen, cotton and lasting suits for summer and winter.

    1. An interesting reflection Aida about
      food preservation for the long winters, mainly basic vegetables and potatoes, here they would use something called a root cellar, underground or at least partially underground. The small cottages had a sleeping loft on the top and the most widely used shoes were clogs.

  15. What a wonderful story of the tradition of success, motivation, and the entrepreneurial spirit kept alive across the community! I love hearing about third, fourth, fifth and on generation companies. My husband and I work for a children’s home with a third generation administrator. Having been and being employed there still, there have been many changes through the years. Even though there is necessary change, quality need not suffer.

  16. I enjoyed the read that is quite a place you live in with the history to strive and survive and being similar to compumatrix. It proves hard work does work and nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it. It sounds like they have the attitude to survive as well as being generous and helpful with one another goes a long way in a village.

  17. Very interesting article Eva! Enjoyed reading Swedish history,especially Smaland, Gnosjo. Sweden is the safest country in the world. compumatrix community which belongs to different countries,good to know about different history.Thank you Eva.

  18. What a rich heritage you have there Eva growing up in Sweden. What an interesting place. Hard work, dedication, and community seems to be the foundation of a good life and a wonderful society. I know that you must have battled all the elements of nature and the cold winters there. But those things made you that much stronger. Many in the Big City life would envy you for sure.

  19. I loved reading about life in another country and how your fellow Swedes are very ingenious with creating business and income. It is a shame that so many have moved on past doing things the old way. Yes, it was more work, but in the long run, the craftsmanship was much better than now!

  20. The picture looks like the old grist mills here in the USA. I can think of one of my favorite ones in Missouri, which has a covered bridge leading to it. It is beautiful this time of the year too, as I can imagine Sweden is as well. Thank you for sharing some insight into the people and their work ethics there. Kudos to them!!

  21. Eva loved this history you shared. A well-written blog that kept my interest as I read. Telling of what happened and how your community had to reinvent itself is interesting. The nature of the human spirit to allow us to imagine and make our circumstances better. Your key factors are a must for us to follow. The dream of Henry, for Compumatrix, is an emerging phenomenon rising from the ashes of what was, to be the most significant company in cryptocurrencies. We are living in an exciting time of change. Change is never easy, but the grit of the people is to see it done.

  22. Eva – YOU take us back to thise days when it was so much more difficult to survive the long and hard winters. Sweden is a friendly country and their citizens have good work ethics. Enterprising people set the trend and we can learn a lot from them. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  23. Gnosjo, the spirit of the Swedish community and it’s approach to life, sounds very much like smaller communities all around the world, but with a very Scandinavian flavour! While other communities – particularly here in Canada approach life with a similar more conservative mindset, the Gnosjo effect seems to go a bit further. It combines personal pride in accomplishing innovation and providing for one’s own family, with the need to remain humble and always remember to include the welfare of one’s neighbours and community as well. I really appreciate that! I do hope that the EU effect will give way at some point, allowing the smaller communities to once more thrive in a very highly-moralistic way!

  24. Interesting to read the history of your area .. I read with interest and a feeling of your fond memories of time past. I am always interested in finding out the different culture of other Countries. I was always one who was interested in traveling but life got in the way of making a self employed living so most I could do is watch documentaries of other parts of the world.

    1. Avery, I can relate to your comment in relation to traveling, although for another reason. Normally nothing beats the real thing and I had a few trips planned this year but under the circumstances decided not to go in the end. There were just so many different restrictions to keep on checking etc. so watching documentaries was a better option this time around.

  25. Very interesting and informative article Eva.Yes I agree with your points about the different factors expressed for becoming an Entrepreneur and the same is built into our Company, Compumatrix. We are all very proud to be part of the uprising Company,God Bless.

  26. I’m glad so many found the story inspiring, thank you all for your comments.
    Forgot to mention, especially for our American friends, that we actually have a little piece of America here as well, a place called High Chaparral. A western town attraction with cowboy
    shows and all, founded by another great local character nicknamed Big Ben and still today run by his sons. His passion for all things american and Wild west was so great that he brought a piece of it here. Nothing is impossible if we put our mind and heart to it.

  27. How nice Eva to read of your experience living in Småland and sharing with us the cultural spirit among the residents; Gnosjo, the spirit of the Swedish community.
    Entrepreneurship and work are not far from Swedish people,harsh environment is not a problem they come a long way as successful people.
    We are lucky in having such members within our Compumatrix community.

  28. Eva it was a very nice and descriptive way you told about your place. I could picture the whole place in my imagination. I love small towns and villages and love how people are close and perseverant and made it for generation to live there following the family business.I loved the principles that they followed and their spirit of Gnosjo.The Compumatrix family also follows these principles and hopefully soon we will be able to pass this business down to our children and grandchildren

  29. When America was started, an attitude that everyone should bring everything to the main storehouse and everyone would share in the harvest equally. (socialisms). Everyone almost died of starvation. It was only when entrepreneurship was established that Jamestown and the Pilgrims flourished. Our own business here at Compumatrix is one that requires us to think like independent individuals. Lets keep the spirit of independence alive like the folks in Sweden.

  30. Wow, Eva, you’re first attempt!? I didn’t think so; you’re a pro. I enjoyed reading about your experiences on life in Sweden. Those who stayed behind were hard-working and inventive. That is certainly a human trait to admire and try to employ in our own endeavors in our personal lives as well as in our work and business. Those of us who have remained loyal to this company throughout the years are now seeing the vision become a reality.

    1. Thank you Antonio for your kind words, I’ve always loved books and reading and that certainly helps as well as not being quite unfamiliar with writing either.
      But it might require an extra effort these days as I’m switching between 3 different languages.
      Also I love history and appreciate that we have much to learn from it.

  31. Eva What a great blog growing up in Sweden just sounds amazing. I almost moved to Europe with my Ex’s job but we didn’t go but in looking at homes the country is amazing. Like compumatrix we will one day see amazing things I truly believe that.

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