Łukasz Lutostański, the Polish consul-general in Manchester, opened the event, saying the the consulate had been opened relatively recently to support Polish citizens living in North-West England and Yorkshire. "We estimate there are 47,000 Poles in this area, of whom 3,000 run their own businesses," said the consul. PBlink's Bartek Kowalczyk outlined the role of Polish Business Link in supporting Polish entrepreneurs in the UK.
Darren Shaw from BiY, a Yorkshire business support network, set out his guidelines for running a successful small firm. His key message was the spend time working on your business as well as spending time working in your business. "Set aside one morning a week to think how your business is going, where it's going, what the problems are." The business environment is changing every 12-18 months, he said; "companies that have no strategy as to coping with that change will wither and die". "Darren's presentation was pure gold", said an entrepreneur after the event.
Claire Turner and Jane Tindall, partners at Winburn Glass Norfolk chartered accountants gave a presentation on business structure in the UK and on accounting records and VAT. Despite the complex nature of the subject, they delivered the key points on thorny issues such as dealing with motoring expenses or business entertainment. Entrepreneurs learnt at what stage of business growth is it worth registering a limited liability company, and when one should register for VAT.
Three Polish-run businesses were showcased at the Leeds event - Confidalia Events from Leeds, BC Printing Ltd from Glasgow and Patisserie Liverpool Ltd. Confidalia Events, run by Ewa Jasińska and Eliza Jankowska, who over the past two years have organised 25 major events, some for up to 500 people, abroad and across the UK. Krzysztof Kieryś presented the printing house that specialises in customised signage for shop fronts, cars, vans and buses, as well as more usual print jobs for SMEs - flyers, brochures, booklets and posters. Łukasz Grzymski gave a splendid lesson in starting up a business, finding finance, managing growth and turning 'visitors' into 'clients' who have a long-term stake in your business's ongoing success. All three presentations were memorable - Łukasz's with a touch of Liverpudlian humour that the audience appreciated.
The afternoon was summed up with closing remarks by Victoria Berry from TurnerLaw, who said that the Polish part of the firm's business was demonstrating 30% year-on-year growth as the team of Polish lawyers reached out into the Polish business community across the UK.
Then followed the mixer - after introductions, where every participant had 30 seconds to introduce their business, there was plenty of time over a glass of wine (and later across the road over a pint of beer) to swap business cards and extend one's own business network.
Participant reaction to the event was entirely favourable - the five presentations were judged to be the best yet at any PBlink - BPCC seminar held in the UK.
The event was made possible thanks to support from partners MoneyGram, TurnerLaw and BC Printing.
The next event in this series takes place in Glasgow on Wednesday 11 December. Details on www.pblink.co.uk