Second anniversary of Covid-19 in Europe: lessons/learned/new perspectives for a (hopeful) globally vaccinated post Covid-19 landscape.

It has been two years since the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered in Wuhan. These 24 months have shown us how extremely important it is to be able to quickly adapt to changes, and that it is worth investing in yourself, increasing your competences thanks to various programs, such as “YES! – Young Entrepreneurs Succeed!” and use the help and experience of Mentors.

How much had to change to be able to continue to function in the new reality? We all got used to this change, so it is possible to summarize the changes that have occurred in social life and the economy and to estimate what awaits us in the near future.

Over the last 2 years, we have trained over 200 people in the YES program, to whom we have provided over 1189 hours of support, which resulted in the creation of 51 new companies and jobs– are you curious about our conclusions and would like to know the opinions of the participants? – We encourage you to read the article!

An important lesson? What the pandemic teaches us.

  1. Home office not as scary as it may seem

It would seem that a few years ago Polish business “did not grow up” to the “home office” work model. So far, the office at home has been associated mainly with the activity of freelancers. From 2020, remote work has gained great popularity. As many as 92% of entrepreneurs declared that the effectiveness of remote work is good or very good, and additionally it allows you to save on renting offices and allocate these funds to the development of the company.

  1. Machine – our new collaborator

Before the pandemic, almost every meeting was held face to face, even when it was necessary to spend several hours traveling. Communication between colleagues was based primarily on meetings in the office or in the kitchen over coffee, where you could quickly discuss any topic. Now all communication is made by phone and e-mail, which places a heavy burden on these channels and causes delays or sometimes unnecessary misunderstandings. There are also advantages – some of the similar work in different departments can be done by one and the same person who can work at the other end of the country or even the world.

  1. Internet – the power of the 21th century

The e-commerce industry can consider 2021 a successful year. Five years ago, the value of the Polish e-commerce market was PLN 27 billion. Before the pandemic, it was estimated at PLN 70 billion, today at PLN 100 billion. Online shoppers account for 77% of the total of all surveyed Internet users. 75% declare shopping online in Polish stores, 32% buys on foreign websites. Which shows that nowadays it is much easier (and cheaper) to run your own business, because most activities can only be performed on the Internet, relying on proven and available methods, even for novice entrepreneurs. By being open to e-commerce, we can also have access to customers who have not used our products or services so far, and also enjoy the benefits of the internet for consumers.

  1. Only the most “flexible” survived

The hard test that has been and  is the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to the elimination of businesses that are slightly more susceptible to social change. Only those who were able to demonstrate speed and creativity, and who correctly predicted social and economic changes, survived. This situation also showed that it is always worth being ready for changes, reevaluating your business plan, or sometimes completely changing your career path by changing industries or starting your own business.

One more conclusion can be added to the above lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic: after all, any crisis can only be survived with a bit of luck, great ingenuity, openness to change, as well as the support of various institutions or participation in development programs.

YES program – a recipe for the current situation

During the last two years, we managed to organize 7 editions of the YES program aimed at beginning entrepreneurs and 2 editions of the Digital Marketing Academy for job seekers.

A total of 222 people took part in 9 editions, including 152 women and 70 men. Which shows that more and more Polish women are not afraid of challenges, trying to shine on the Polish and international arena and become a real business woman.

We conducted 447 hours of workshops with experts and business practitioners, 612 hours of mentoring and over 130 hours of consultations with advisers who shared their knowledge and experience and provided the necessary advice, and supported participants at every step during the program and after its completion .

Thanks to our support, 51 new companies and jobs were created, which shows that despite the uncertain situation on the Polish market, it is worth investing in yourself and making your dreams come true.

The program was conducted primarily online, which is not only an alternative to live meetings, but also allows for a very specific value, including by saving time, as well as the possibility of participating in meetings from anywhere in the world, as well as reaching and helping a larger number of people who, due to their place of residence, could not take part in various programs or workshops.

How does it look from the perspective of a novice entrepreneur?

Many people at the beginning of their entrepreneurial path struggle with various problems that often prevent them from achieving their goals quickly and fruitfully, for example opening and running a thriving company.

Creative people apply for the YES program, sometimes it is enough to direct them in action, as well as those with whom our mentors work for many hours to be able to implement the vision of an idea that sprouts in the participant’s mind.

“I found the program when I only had an idea for my business. No business plan, no market analysis, website, etc. During the training, I changed my idea several times. I participated in the workshops with an open mind, I did not get attached to my first idea (which I also learned during this workshop), and thanks to this and the advice I received, I created the final product that I want to produce. Thanks to the YBP team, I got a mentor after the workshop. Mariusz Frydrych is an invaluable mentor who works with me to this day. This is an excellent continuation of the program, thanks to which I do not go through all the stages of creating a business on my own, and in addition, together with a mentor, we can focus on my needs and solve specific problems.

Thanks to the YBP program, I have met young entrepreneurs who face the same problems and needs as me. They asked similar questions which I was also looking for answers to. Thanks to the support of participants and leaders, I believed in my idea, it became more real and achievable. I believed in my abilities and the possibility of achieving this goal.” – emphasizes the participant of the first edition of the YES program – Magdalena Baran, the founder of WINDROP

“When you fall in love with your idea, like most entrepreneurs, it’s relatively easy to get going. The stairs begin later, when the company does not develop as planned, the first troubles we had no right to foresee begin. And it was the same in my case. During one of the workshops, I decided to create a new product that would implement the solutions mentioned by Mentor in real time. After a few minutes, it was already added in the store. For the next weeks, it broke another sales record every day. In business, I am fascinated by the fact that sometimes something created “on your knee” brings us unexpected results and the products we work on for months do not necessarily … Then I understood that the most important thing is to directly respond to the client’s needs.”– recalls Szymon Żuławiński, the founder of the Not Cool Coffee store and a participant in the third edition of the program.

“Before joining the program, I knew the absolute minimum. The support of mentors allowed me to arrange the process of starting a business calmly. I also got a grant, and participation in the program convinced me that it is worth submitting an application at all and I found out how to complete such an application correctly. During the program I learned that I didn’t know much about creating services, products and online activities. Although it was a moment that forced me to change my mind about my idea. I started the company with greater certainty of financial stability and realized that I do not need to have everything 100% ready to start working. Thanks to participation in the program, I gained greater business awareness, the real one, based more on data than dreams and wishful thinking. I have gained a lot of contacts and I have learned to expand my network of contacts on my own.”– says Magdalena Korbecka, participant of the 4th edition of the program and founder of the COHESS Recruitment Agency

All participants emphasize that participation in the program was very valuable for them and allowed them to develop in business.

“We are extremely pleased with this, because the overriding goal of YBP is to co-create the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Poland. In the YES program, we met exceptional people who not only want to develop their business, but also want to live responsibly. We need such change leaders and we are happy to be part of their story. ” – summarizes Adrian Migoń – president of the foundation Youth Business Poland.

We are full of hope for the future and we believe that the key to success lies in cooperation and mutual support, and thanks to the combination of various competences – together we can do more! This is what the YES program is – it connects people not only in their immediate surroundings, but the whole world, thanks to which sharing knowledge is easier and more effective. The exchange of experiences as well as the advice received allow to minimize the risk of failure in business, as well as in every context of life. To create a healthier, stronger and innovative world, we are all responsible for actively developing passion, unlimited thinking, looking for unconventional solutions to problems, supporting ourselves in action and putting the right priorities in the first place.


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