The overall objective of this proposal is to promote entrepreneurship and growth of SMEs across Europe. A key element is to create strong framework conditions for entrepreneurs and businesses across sectors that can help them face key challenges, including managing a crisis, dealing with bankruptcy and getting a second chance.
From 23 May 2017, Polish entrepreneurs may receive support under the Early Warning project. In order to be well-prepared for that moment, mentors and consultants, who will soon begin working with entrepreneurs in distress, i.e. those concerned about the situation in their companies, met on 15-16 May 2017 in Poznań.
The representatives of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) and the Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne, which implement the project, presented the context of the project, the European Union documents that constitute its foundations and the role of Poland as one of the countries where pilot activities will be implemented (other countries include Italy, Spain and Greece). The aim is to develop a system for supporting entrepreneurs in distress, since pursuant to the EU Directive (COM/2016 723): Every Member State should establish a system for diagnosing and supporting companies in distress or which see the first symptoms of approaching difficulties. Only actions undertaken appropriately early may prevent the slowdown in the company’s development or, in extreme cases, its bankruptcy. Poland thus faces a great challenge. If the system proves to be efficient (as we deeply believe), it will be recommended for implementation in other European countries.
The Early Warning Europe project team, Early Warning Poland. From the left: Małgorzata Kuś-Konieczna and Małgorzata Mączyńska (PARP), Eleni Stecka and Katarzyna Gierczak (Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne).
For the project to be successful, a real network of cooperation must be established, involving all mentors and consultants. They are people with huge experience and extensive knowledge, who are willing to share it with others and are development-oriented. However, nobody is an expert in everything, so mutual support is needed, as is consulting on difficult cases and asking advice from specialists in the field in which others lack competence. The competences must first be identified and stakeholders must get to know each other and exchange contact details.
The two days were filled with intensive work. The discussion focused on how the cooperation with entrepreneurs should look like. Who should a mentor be? A confidant, an advisor or a coach? Or maybe all in one? Where are the limits of the mentor’s responsibility? Which values should mentors observe? How to choose an appropriate style of communication with a specific person? The way in which mentors operate also matters. Don’t they impose their will too much? Can they listen to understand their interlocutors? Questions are multiplying and new areas to be taken into account when working with entrepreneurs who need assistance are emerging. We must be aware of the great responsibility we are taking. We will be approached by people for whom we will be a lifeline at an appropriate moment (at least we hope so) and sometimes their last hope.
Cooperation skills, ability to establish appropriate relations, but also to put up barriers can (and must) be improved, as explained by the instructors conducting the workshops. It is yet another challenge and inspiration for entrepreneurs. Watching the participants during work and discussions, I could see that they like such challenges. Well, it is no accident that they were invited to join the project!
The workshops received very good marks from participants. They emphasized the unique atmosphere and the sense of taking part in something important and contributing to building a community of entrepreneurs who support one another.
In less than a month, we will meet at another workshop, and new mentors and consultants will join us in autumn. We would like to invite everyone with experience in business who would like to support the others!
This page is part of the project Early Warning which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020).