Absolutely painless from my point of view. Registering was a breeze - two visits to the Urząd Miasta, one visit to the tax office and the job was done. The ZUS side of things was handled by my accountant.
My mate went through hell just getting his registered, he'd moved down here because of the favourable conditions.
I'm not surprised. If you don't do your homework first, instead relying on what PR spokesmen might say - then Poland is always going to be a troublesome experience. In my experience, most problems are caused by two simple things - not reading and not asking. At least in Poznan, absolutely everything is listed - and if you give them what they want, no matter how stupid or idiotic it may be (from a foreign point of view) - then you get what you want.
My question to you all who are running small businesses as foreigners, for the benefit of those wishing to emulate you how difficult is it really to register and run your own company in this company?
It really isn't difficult at all. But you need to read about the subject first - the people who have problems are often the ones who have a vague idea of how it works, but they don't actually know what they're doing. I saw quite a lot of people registering a business who were doing just that - when I registered, I had the forms filled out in advance, I knew what my business was doing (in regards to PKD codes) and I had all the possible relevant paperwork with me, and copied twice - just in case. Being prepared makes a big difference.
For instance - legally, you should have a zameldowanie and a residence permit (or visa) if you're in Poland for more than 4 days. To start a business, you don't technically need these documents - but if you have them, it makes life much easier. It's just one little thing, but someone who complies with the law in other respects will find it much easier to deal with.
Another example : you should always have a good, competent accountant. If you try to do it yourself, it's just going to cause endless tears and trouble as a foreigner, especially if you can't read the language to a high standard. I've heard so many stories of people having problems - but almost universally, it was because they didn't have the right people doing the right things in place.
I would say that for anyone wishing to have a successful business in Poland, you need to live here for at least a year to become acclimatised to the environment first.