Why I’m going to #LOTE5, and why every other Polish entrepreneur should too.

unFailNewRGB.pngThere are those events that are worthy of your time because they guarantee a solid dose of knowledge and inspiration (one of my favourite examples: reSITE). There are those you attend because your friends will be there and you haven’t seen them in a long time. And then there’s LOTE, which goes way beyond that.

I attended 1 out of 4 previous LOTE events. Reasons (or should I say excuses) were many, but the one that matters is the one that makes me join Edgeryders this time, and why I believe every other social entrepreneur in Poland should do the same.

There are two things you need to understand about why Poles often struggle with entreprenurship.

1.(mis)Trust. In the latest EDELMAN Trust Barometer Poland hit rock bottom. There’s no use in digging, there can be no lower point. The slide below depicts our trust in institutions, but no, lose all hope – trust in one another is not much higher.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 22.42.53

2. Fear of failure. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor says this about Poles:

The second [reason why so few Poles start their own businesses] is fear of failure – 51.1% of adults are afraid of going bankrupt. This is the 2nd highest fear of failure rate in the EU, exceeding the average by over 10%.

Last year we did a study for the municipality in Konin (my hometown) on what keeps young people from becoming entrepreneurs. Our findings weren’t much different from GEM’s.

Now, for the last two years I have been running my very first social enterprise. It’s my very first commercial activity in general. I’ve been on the verge of going bankrupt at least twice. I’ve been lost and delirious a thousand times, I failed to close deals that seemed “so close to a close,” I’ve ruined one very important partnership because I took too much on (luckily, we’ve recently had a reunion:), the list goes on. I failed, miserably, so many times. But my one-of-a-kind team and I, we’re still standing, and at this point we’re doing better every day.

This is why I now feel the need to meet with the people who will help me relive some of the failures, accept them, laugh at them and list the lessons learnt. This is why I believe social entrepreneurs (from Poland in particular) should use this opportunity to not only learn during fascinating sessions with inspiring Edgeryders from all across the world, but also (and in fact most importantly) to benefit from this safe space, to explore and embrace failure, to learn how to trust newly met people. How else will we grow?

So join us Feb 25-28 in Brussels for the fifth Living on the Edge conference! I’ll be there together with Monika from my team, both ready to share our failures with you :)

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