Nowadays in Poland’s historic capital, Warsaw, you can check in the Marriott and walk across the street to sip a Flat White at Starbucks. Talking with people at Starbucks might actually be one of the most effective ways of finding an affordable business opportunity in Poland- though doing your homework first would significantly increase your chances of success. A lot of urbanite Poles speak English and enjoy talking to foreigners as much as drinking a Caramel Macchiato.
See Also: How to Market a Product in Poland
Flashback to 1989, Poland’s anti-Soviet Solidarity movement, has dismantled communism in Poland and the first McDonald’s sprouts up in the early 1990s. But the end of communism in Poland has brought a more globalized culture and a desire to acquire the latest products.
Poland, a European Union member since 2004, has the fastest-growing economy on the continent, which miraculously escaped the 2008 debt crisis. Poland has shown its mettle and, as a transitioning economy, offers opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs of all stripes. With the largest producer of LCD screens in Europe and several business and pharmaceutical services, Poland offers numerous business opportunities for the aspiring businessman.
Here’s a game plan to get you sitting down at a Starbucks in Warsaw, with an actual contract on the table.
1. Do Your Homework
If you’re thinking of opening up a Chicago-style hot dog stand in Gdansk, you’ll need to prep more than the onions, tomatoes and peppers. For any business ventures in Poland, you’ll want to prepare a menu of best options with the supporting facts that make them tasty. To begin with, check out some online sources for looking at the bigger-picture of Poland. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit Reports on Poland give you the essential facts on Poland’s top industries, regulations and risks--all linked to articles that translate the raw data into business sense. If you subscribe, you will gain access to select market opportunities as a bonus.
2. Scan the Business Press
Stay on top of anything that might affect the Polish economy, particularly the territory you’re staking out on: relevant legislation, trends, what the big players are doing and saying. Perform site-specific searches of the websites of your favorite business rags, like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Fast Company. For example, Bloomberg Business has an arsenal of about 9,853 articles on Poland. With all this news streaming in, you might want to install an RSS feed reader on your cellphone like Digg or Feedly.
3. Get a Polish Perspective
If you live in Poland, you might notice some discrepancies between a story, for example between the New York Times business page and the street view of the same story. Make a practice of consulting regional papers and periodicals to get the Polish or eastern European perspective. Some to start with are New Eastern Europe, Transitions Online and EUbusiness. On the Poland page of EUbusiness, you’ll find a Poland Business Directory and curated Poland business news.
4. Be Social
Social media powerhouses like LinkedIn and Twitter don’t have borders. In LinkedIn, you can introduce yourself to groups like All Poland: News, Jobs, Networking, Business Opportunities. If you have some questions about bringing vaping to Poland, members of this group can give you clues regarding the regulatory hurdles.
UK Trade & Investment, publishes business opportunities in Poland on their LinkedIn page, too. There are several discussions centered on renewable energy event news and opportunities, with several members posting links to fresh business leads. You can follow their Twitter feed, too, at UKTI Poland, where the conversation on renewable energy never stops.
5. Keep It Legal
Take a look at the website of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency- Invest in Poland, for downloadable publications that give you the specifics of how to do business in Poland. Primary source information on things like labor regulations, construction and taxes could come in handy at this point. Poland’s Ministry of the Economy also lays out the law for entrepreneurs on its website, which can be read in English, Chinese, Russian and German, among a few other languages. The ministry also describes supporting programs for entrepreneurs and also includes a page for those interested in pursuing e-commerce, as well.
6. Consult Chambers of Commerce
At the end of the day, you’ll want to make some business contacts. The Polish chambers of commerce provide networking and other professional opportunities to mix with the Polish business community. You can join the Poland chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce for access to the “corridors of power” in Warsaw. For example, if you want to import pierogis, go to the Poland Import-Export Chamber of Commerce. Its “quick links” provide info on distributing Polish products and offer free tutorials for starting your own business.
Just remember some cultural fundamentals when you’re drinking your Skinny Mocha with a Pole business executive. While you give your firm handshake, make sure to maintain eye contact. Even though Poles tend to be warm and friendly, all business interactions must be formal; don’t use your new business associate’s first name until indicated. Your Polish host might not invite the use of first names, until a toast has been made at a sit-down dinner, preceding a proper shot of vodka.
What type of business are you thinking of starting up in Poland? Let us know in the comments section below.