Tatiana gets capitalism. Small-business entrepreneurism is alive in post-Soviet Russia.
In Stockholm, entrepreneur Lars Rosen, 63, ditched his job as a firefighter a few decades ago and dived into publishing.
“One day when we played soccer and I saw the older [firemen] standing on the sideline instead of playing. I decided to [end] my job as a fireman. I did not want to be the guy standing on the sideline.”
Rosen’s father worked for the Swedish royal family, so Lars had a network of contacts. One was the editor at the biggest car magazine in Scandinavia, and Rosen approached him about starting a couple of magazines that judged cars for consumers.
The magazines became successful, and Rosen sold them about three years ago. Now he owns a big chunk of a high-end, monthly car magazine called Gran Turismo, which is more a lifestyle publication than a consumer guide.
The company has nine full-time employees and more than $1 million in revenue. He hopes to double that by next year.
“I sometimes think about the hours and money we have invested in our small publishing house and if I instead had started something with more potential profit. But if I then look at all the fun and good times we have had during this ‘trip,’ I don’t regret one day.”
Rosen is still bringing in investors to help build the business. His current project is a car show/auction planned for this fall that could boost the visibility of his magazine. He also has a new car magazine in the works, featuring more-basic cars that might appeal to a broader audience. He hopes to double his revenue next year.
“I like this kind of business because it never stands still, and you meet a lot of nice people, and I get to drive all the cars that most people just dream about,” Rosen said.
Rosen does well. He and Milena Bergquist live in a waterfront apartment on the island of Kungsholmen in central Stockholm. They also own a country home in southwestern Sweden.
Bergquist, 53, has written children’s books, has a cookbook coming out any day and is finishing up a novel.
When we met for dinner at a restaurant in Stockholm two weeks ago, she said she was in negotiations with a Swedish television network to develop a show around her children’s books. The TV show could become an financial home run if it boosts the sale of her children’s books.
“I started writing quite late, at 38,” said Bergquist, who quit her job as a features editor at Svenska Dagbladet, one of the big Swedish newspapers, to strike out on her own.
“For me, it’s always been a freedom thing,” she said. “Being able to decide for yourself how to spend your day. I have a hard time with the 9-to-5 thing.”