Agnieszka Zawistowska is the Director of UPC Business, organizer of the competition for small companies with global ambitions – THINK BIG. She pursues the strategy of sales of services for small companies (SOHO), develops of segments of SME and wholesale. Agnieszka gained her 15-year experience in a number of B2B sectors – from marketing, through distribution and telecommnication. In her professional work, she bets on non-standard ideas and solutions which may increase the digital potential of Polish firms.
What should a Polish businessman, owner of a small firm, do to enter new markets abroad?
Operating in the global scale, thanks to the phenomena of internet, is today possible and available to everybody. This does not mean that this is very easy, because you have to stand out, get through and promote oneself, interest potential customers, reach them which is not easy in a highly competitive economy.
In order to think about a company in the global scale, one has to have a good idea and know how to implement it. Innovation which can have a number of meanings is key. The process, service, business model, technology, everything that carries traits of being unique can be innovative, what has important and extraordinary value.
Innovation also means the translation of an idea into a product or service for which consumers would be willing to pay. Of course first it is necessary to look for capital – an investor or corporation which frequently look for innovative ideas. They are open not only to cooperation, but also are willing to offer support. One of our initiatives which was established on this basis is the THINK BIG program.
The second edition of the program was launched in autumn. You encourage businesses to create business development plans. Why are you investing in entrepreneurs?
We support entrepreneurs by providing them with modern tools indispensable for functioning and development, including the fastest Internet for businesses. Over several years of cooperation with businesses, we came to see their potential. Their huge capital is creativeness and courage in thinking, which however is not enough to achieve success in a competitive and dynamically changing world. We came to the conclusion that we can inspire them to set new goals, think about a business plan for the development of the company, to think about the business in a global scale.
This is how the THINK BIG program was established which was to inspire entrepreneurs to think about their business in the BIG sense, i.e., globally, in a non-standard way, with courage so that they would want to develop activities basing on innovative technologies and solutions and, at the same time creatively combine their passions with business activities.
For many companies THINK BIG may be a milestone, as, even if they do not win, they may be noticed. This is what happened in the first edition when one of the companies which did not enter the finals interested us with its software project. An additional value for participants in the program which was stressed by winners of the first edition, is business networking. We will be accepting applications to the second edition of THINK BIG until 7 November 2014.
How can innovation be perceived In the case of small Polish companies ?
Small innovative companies are drivers for the economy. The more such companies, the more competitive in the global scale can Polish economy be.
And I am talking here about micro-companies – for which innovation is most needed. Unfortunately the majority of businesses still fail to use internet for any of those activities. This is partially the issue of insufficient education of Polish companies on benefits deriving from digitalization.
According to the World Competitive Index, Polish companies hold the 144 place in the world in technology absorption – hence there is a lot to do before full use is made of the potential of digital technologies. Innovation in small or micro-firms means primarily the use of possibilities offered by internet – including online purchases from providers as well as providing services to customers. Among companies employing two or more employees, more than ¼ use internet to conduct some form of e-commerce and more than 1/3 service their customers via internet. Innovation in business has never been so easily available. One only has to have an idea and Polish entrepreneurs do not lack creativity.