How to Succeed in China in 2007

Monday, January 1, 2007 10:01
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In the December issue of Business 2.0 Carleen Hawn, Susanna Hamner, and Erick Schonfeld have brought together the thoughts of 25 business leaders in their article How to Succeed in 2007.

While giving advice from from 45,000 feet and super macro in nature, I went through the list and wondered which (if any) really applied to those trying to business in China. Given the high line nature (and scope) of the comments a lot of the ideas were interesting and could be applied with a little fudging and Sinofiling, so I have taken the following a examples of things companies should look to do as tools that aid in a successful 2007 in china

(1) Succeed With Simplicity (Sergey Brin and eric Schmidt, Google) + Think Big (Michael Dell, Dell Computer) + Learn How to Say No (Richard Branson, Virgin Group) + Seek Big Rewards in Small Ideas (Muhammad Yunus, Graemen Bank)

Taking these concepts, you essentially have China’s version of Red Light Green Light.

To succeed in China, companies will need to have grand strategies that fulfill themselves over an appropriate time frame. Thinking too big in China, or thinking that China is a single market is one way to ensure a difficult time in China. It is something that companies have historically thought, and many companies entering today often do not fully understand the different regional difference well enough when rolling out.

China has 1.3 billion people (give or take). thinking Big is easy, and often dangerous. Keep it simple. focus on a landing key accounts in key areas and leverage that platform to grow. Learning to focus on a city/ province/ region and then expand from there will keep your organization from thinning out or going through that ad hoc add bodies as you go process rather than a managed growth that can sustained.

Measure success in the context in which they should be and grow as milestones are met. do ont assume that a good quarter or a rapid rise in market share is sustainable. Understand the fundamentals of recent success and develop growth strategies from there.

(2) Dare to Be a Social Entrepreneur (Howard Schultz, Starbucks) + Compel Investors to Go Green (Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures) + Obsess About Solutions, Not Problems (Donald Trump, Trump Organization)

Being a social entrepreneur in the west is quite different than in China. through this phase of rapid development, often times sustainable development gets in the way. We see this often in the news as environmental, labor, and other issues are reported.

Reading these issues and talking about them is one thing, but for companies that develop solutions to address problems, success will be found. Investing in the northeast or southwest, developing environmentally friendly technologies, and developing solutions to strengthen healthcare coverage will all return dividends long term.

(3) Keep Social Networks Social (Chris DeWolfe, Myspace) + Don’t Be a Bridge Burner (Debra Lee, BET Networks)

Managing networks will be more important than ever in China. With many of your competitors in China looking for contacts, making sure they do not gain the attention of your distributors or suppliers will be essential to maintaining competitive advantages.

Paying on time, providing the support they need to make/ sell products, and working to grow the relationship in other areas will ensure the ongoing success of the relationship.

(4) Build a Blog That Builds Your Business (Fred Wilson, Union Square Partners) + Let the Users Run the Show (Ken Rose, DIGG) + Make Your Brand Part of the Conversation (Jeff Hicks, Crispin Porter & Bogusky)

Harnessing China’s cyber community is something that many are doing and developing blogs and other online campaigns is a great way to get the message out.

Letting bloggers run loose is tricky and should be monitored carefully. Many companies are now investing in proactive teams that monitor cyberspace and ensure that a brand is not only built, but that it is also protected. As Dell and others found out this year, it can go bad very quickly in cyber space, so make sure to create, monitor, and manage cyber relationships carefully.

(5) Learn How to Say No (Richard Branson, Virgin Group) + Put Yourself at the Center of the Action (Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media) + Stay True to your Values (Anne Mulcahy, Xerox)

From a personal point of view, there is no greater way to enjoy everything china has to offer than to be in the middle of it all. Getting out and meeting people is a lot of fun and will lead to opportunities to be involved more fully in the china dynamic.

However, with all of that, it is important to keep things in perspective and say no every once in a while. One cannot accomplish everything, and while many opportunities may seem to be once in a lifetime opportunities, the fact is that with as dynamic as this place is there will always be another opportunity.

Success in China is something many are only beginning to attain, and by no means will 2007 lead to success for all.

Keeping your eye on the ball will be more important than ever as 2007 brings more interest from competitors to China. The olympics are only 18 months away and the rate by which China experiences change is only gaining speed as foreign companies descend upon China and domestic companies go abroad.

On thing is for sure. the next year is going to be a hell of a ride. So make sure your seat belts are secured, your arms and legs are inside the car, and enjoy the ride.

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