Expert in entrepreneurship
Editor-in-chief of the Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine, Juha-Pekka Harju worked himself as an entrepreneur for 31 years. Moreover, he has networked with many entrepreneurship promoting organisations over the years.
Kaarina has for years been regarded a favourable municipality for entrepreneurs. According to Kaarina-based entrepreneur Juha-Pekka Harju, it is largely due to the quick and direct opportunities to affect the issues concerning entrepreneurs.
“Mayor Harri Virta deserves special thanks for that. He puts himself at stake. In addition, unnecessary bureaucracy has been eliminated. The business development company Kaarinan Kehitys Oy, jointly owned by the City and entrepreneur organisations, provides a direct opportunity to affect issues important to entrepreneurs. I hope that more municipalities would introduce such a system. The City owns the majority of the company, and the entrepreneurs have three seats in the Board. The City purchases the development services, and the company has its own budget. The Board of the company can, for example, decide on implementing something in the evening, and the work will start first thing in the morning, because it need not be approved by other parties. The City need not fear, however, that companies would act alone. In most cities, a business committee makes a proposal to the City Council which decides on the matter in its meeting”, Mr Harju says.
Mr Harju is one of the entrepreneur members of Kaarinan Kehitys Oy and acted six months as the temporary Managing Director of the company in 2013. He hopes that the issues of the enterprises could be communicated to the inhabitants of the municipalities in the right way.
”Business development creates new jobs, well-being and tax income. The money invested in it will come back to the municipality in multiple amounts in the long term. In addition to municipal development, we need regional development. In my opinion, Turku Science Park’s advisory services to enterprises and support to start-ups in the Turku region are very important activities, and the recent organisation reform eliminated overlapping services and improved the flow of information. I was with them when their municipal tour stopped in Kaarina, and learned a lot of new and even surprising facts.”
Mr Harju thinks that the local companies now have positive hustle and bustle after a long quieter period, and the high-tech expertise generates lots of work, for example to subcontractors.
Yrittäjä magazine is established
Juha-Pekka Harju started his career after his matriculation examination in newspaper Rannikkoseutu, first as a trainee and later as a local reporter. In addition, he edited magazines of companies and associations on a freelance basis. In 1986, he completed a one-year entrepreneur course in the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration with the aim to think of new business ideas and start developing the communication of associations.
”On the course we also edited a magazine, and Jukka Ekuri who was one of the instructors and the chairman of Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjät association at the time suggested that I start editing a magazine for the local entrepreneur organisation in which I could communicate the entrepreneurs’ issues to a larger audience. The association then only published a members’ magazine”, Mr Harju reminisces.
He took on the proposal and began to edit the Yrittäjä magazine. This year marks 30 years since its establishment. At first he also sold the advertising space to the magazine. It was published by Rannikkoseutu, Peimarin Kustannus and later by Aamuset. In 1995, Juha-Pekka Harju’s Viestintäharju Oy took over as the publisher.
Alongside communication services for associations and companies, he developed business operations from online services and leased server space. In 2010, he sold the online business to the Jyväskylä-based company Online Solutions, because it would have required further investments and development.
Stories about entrepreneurs and other articles
Viestintäharju has operated for the last 20 years in the same premises in Kaarina city-centre, though at one point the company did acquire more space from the office next door. The company now focuses on publishing and editing the magazine. In addition to Mr Harju, there are five freelance reporters. The sales team comprises of five people. The Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine comes out nine times a year, and the journalistic content is compiled from the whole province.
”Most of the topics of the articles are found by ourselves, e.g. the stories about entrepreneurs. It’s easy when you have good reporters, and we continuously receive positive feedback on the content. The activities of the entrepreneur organisation have developed a great deal from the early days, and we have written great articles on many services that were first developed in Southwest Finland, such as the services of a purchasing ombudsman. The young entrepreneurs and the YES centre also arrange many activities, and entrepreneurship is discussed more at school.”
The Yrittäjä magazine also has an online version which is compiled daily, mainly based on press releases. In addition, they can publish articles for which there is no space in the printed version, because usually there are more good articles than there is space in the printed magazine.
”It has completely different content compared to the paper version. The printed magazine still has many readers and it is appreciated much more than the online version. You notice it when talking about something that is published ‘only’ in the online version; people feel that it gets more attention when it’s printed”, Mr Harju says.
The edition of Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine is over 30,000 and it is distributed to all enterprises in the province as addressed mail, not just to the members of the entrepreneur organisation. Viestintäharju bears the financial responsibility alone. The cash flow accumulates exclusively from advertising income.
”Thus our customers enable the promotion of entrepreneurship in Southwest Finland. Without them it would not be possible to this extent; they are not thanked often enough for that.”
According to Mr Harju, selling is not easy and it’s not easy to find good salespeople. Developing of customer relationships takes time, but long-term work is rewarded and luckily the Yrittäjä magazine has long-term sales staff.
Yoga and travelling
Juha-Pekka Harju became a grandfather fairly recently. Both of his daughters had their first baby in the past year or so. Actually the interview was postponed as he had to look after one of the little ones. Lucky for the man that both of his grandchildren live quite near, as playing with them is so much fun to him. That and renovation at home have taken up time from Nordic walking which used to be his most important leisure activity. On the other hand, he also looks after his fitness in Ashtanga yoga.
”I recommend Ashtanga yoga to everyone. It’s dynamic enough and you can do it at home, too, once you’ve learned the sequences. If I take a break from exercising, I’ll soon feel it in my back.”
One of Juha-Pekka Harju’s joys is that his daughter Emmi works as a reporter in her father’s company, although she’s now on maternity leave. His other daughter Lotta has also worked in the company. Nevertheless, the daughters are unlikely to continue with Viestintäharju when Mr Harju retires.
As the summer approaches, the Managing Director wants to get on the road on his motorcycle. In recent years he has spent most of his summer holidays travelling around Europe. For the next summer he’s planning a trip to Spain where he hasn’t been by motorcycle before, but nothing has been set yet.
”My wife and I tour mostly in the Mediterranean countries. Usually we go there in early summer when there are no traffic jams and it’s not too hot. Our favourite place is Croatia where we have visited a number of times. We drive at least 5,000 kilometres on one holiday but the distance is not an end in itself. Usually we move on when we feel like it and may stay several days in one place, looking around the surroundings. You forget work while driving, because you have to fully concentrate on it and not think about other things. It also relieves tension in the neck.”
Mr Harju finds the ’rust removal course’ arranged by the motorcycle club every spring useful, because the motorcycle is not used in the winter.
His other summer activities include gardening and voluntary boating instruction and national defence training.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
- Born in 1960 in Kaarina
- Entrepreneur, Managing Director/Viestintäharju Oy, Editor-in-chief/Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine
Milestones during career
- 1981–1986 reporter, Rannikkoseutu
- 1986– communication agency entrepreneur, Viestintäharju Oy
- 1987– Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine
- 1995– Viestintäharju Oy, publisher of Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjä magazine
- 2010 sold the online business operations of Viestintäharju to Online Solutions Oy based in Jyväskylä
- 2013/6–12 Kaarinan Kehitys Oy, acting Managing Director
Positions of trust
- Kaarinan Yrittäjät entrepreneur organisation, member of the Board for a total of approximately 15 years
- Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjät ry entrepreneur organisation, member of the work committee
- Kaarinan Kehitys Oy, member of the Board
- Suomen Yrittäjäin Työttömyyskassa unemployment fund, member of the Board
- Suomen Yrittäjälehtien yhteistyörengas, Chairman
- Regional Council of Southwest Finland, Valonia department of sustainable development, member of the steering group
- Saaristomeren merivartiokilta, honorary member, boating instructor
- OT-88 Kaarina, member
- Long-distance motorcycling, member of Lieto MC 2000
- Ashtanga yoga
- Nordic walking
- Home repairs
- Care of grandchildren
- Wife Tuija and two adult daughters: Emmi and Lotta
- Two grandchildren: Hilma and Elias