Tag Archives: China

Ma and Chenault: An Interview with 7 Major Points

18 Jul

Jack Ma, who started life with very little, is now one of the richest people in the world. He is the  founder and executive chairman of retail behemoth Alibaba Group, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

In an interview with Kenneth Chenault,  chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, Ma enumerated seven key points. These points are valuable to those at any point in their careers:

  1. Rejection comes with benefits. “When Ma graduated university, he applied to 30 different large companies — and no one would hire him.  So, he started a translation agency, earning $50 his first month. Years later, in 1999, he gathered 17 investors in his apartment, explaining to them his vision to use the Internet to help small-business owners sell. With $50,000, they started Alibaba.”
  2. Get your business global. “Innovative products and services bring those small and medium-size companies to China. I would say China, in the next 20 years, will become the largest importer country in the world because China’s resources can never support such huge demand.”
  3. Don’t wait to innovate. Ma said: “Repair the roof while there is still sunshine. “When the company is good, change the company. When the company is in trouble, be careful. Don’t move. Just like if the storm comes, don’t go up and repair the roof.”
  4. Learn from the failures of others. “For Ma, it’s the mistakes that business owners should really learn from. ‘A lot of people fail for the same reason. If you know why people fail and you learn [from] that, you can make a correction.'”
  5. Be passionate. “If you’re just in the business for money, you’re going about it wrong. Ma and Chenault both emphasized the need for passion in what you do, and agreed that that fervor is a hallmark of successful small-business owners.”
  6. Customers come first. Ma said: “The ones supporting you are not the shareholders. Not government. It’s the customers, the people, the employees. Focus on the customer. Focus on making employees happy. And focus on integrity to everything you’re committed. That is the only thing.”
  7. Help build strong leaders. “If a business is to continue after the owner has moved on, the younger generations must understand and embrace its vision and values. ‘Give them the chance to make mistakes. Listen to them. Respect them,’ said Ma.”

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Avoid These Mistakes When Selling to China

27 Apr

Selling goods and services to companies and consumers in China is not an easy task for foreign firms. Here are some mistakes to avoid.

Based on an interview with Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now, a company that assists Western businesses that enter the Chinese market, Darren Dahl (writing for American Express Open Forum), describes six mistakes that foreign companies should not make:


  1. Doing Nothing New — “The most common mistake companies make when entering international markets is that they don’t do anything new, says Lavin. ‘They think that whatever works domestically will also work internationally,’ he says. ‘They don’t look at pricing or brand positioning or the competitive map. There will be gaps and you need to do some analysis to close them.'”
  2. Not Embracing E-Commerce — “Lavin says that while the U.S. has a mature brick-and-mortar merchandising system that’s been around for two hundred years, Chinese customers primarily shop online. ‘E-commerce is often the icing on the cake in the U.S.,’ says Lavin. ‘But in China, e-commerce is the cake.'”
  3. Failing to Market Differently — “Lavin says getting your products there is only the first step. ‘What we like to say is that distribution ain’t marketing,’ he says. ‘You’ve reached the starting line, not the finish line. Companies must realize that when they’re entering a new market like China, they are essentially starting over when it comes to building up brand awareness and goodwill among potential customers.”
  4. Trying to Do It All Yourself — “If you’ve made the decision to sell in China, then you should also be willing to partner with other businesses to make that move a success.”
  5. Obsessing Over Currency Fluctuations — “One thing you don’t have to worry too much about when selling in China is the fluctuation of global currencies. Lavin says that if you’re selling less than $3,000 worth of goods a day or less, you can simply make minor price adjustments to your products as needed without worrying about any kind of currency hedge strategy. Then again, if you are selling upwards of $50 million worth of goods a year, you might want to think about putting such a plan in place.”
  6. Starting Too Fast — “Lavin suggests that every company start with what he calls a soft launch, where you begin selling a fraction of the products you might otherwise be doing in the U.S. as a way to work the kinks out of everything from the warehouse.”


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Chinese Advertising Ups the Digital Spend

23 Mar

Large numbers of  advertisers around the globe are rapidly expanding their move from traditional ads to digital ones. Worldwide, average spending on digital ads is expected to be nearly one-third of all ad spending in 2016. And China is one of the countries leading the way.

As discussed by Angela Doland for Advertising Age:

A report from GroupM shows just how fast China’s advertisers are moving into the digital space. Five years ago, the Internet accounted for only 14.8% of the total ad spend; this year it’s expected to take 49.7%. China is well ahead of the global average on that front. WPP’s GroupM has forecast that 31% of worldwide ad budgets this year will go to online. Advertisers in China are taking cues from how quickly consumers have embraced the online world, especially mobile phones, for streaming videos and movies online, shopping from Alibaba’s E-commerce empire, and using all-purpose app WeChat to communicate, book services, and pay household bills.”

“Internet spending in China is set to grow 30% this year, after gaining an estimated 35.9% last year. Mobile online advertising is growing at about twice the rate of general online spending. Meanwhile, budgets for traditional formats are being slashed. Newspaper spending plummeted an estimated 30.5% last year and is set to fall 30% in 2016. The budget for TV ads is expected to drop 4.5% this year, after dipping 4% last year. The share of ad spend devoted to TV is expected to be just 35.7%, down from 56.8% five years ago. That’s a striking decline. One factor hurting TV spending this year was a new regulation limiting how many provincial satellite stations can show a hit drama during prime time, and how many episodes of the same show a channel can play in a row.”

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Women in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. China. Credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg


Study Abroad in Summer 2016 with Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business

2 Feb

Hofstra University‘s Zarb of School of Business is offering two different study abroad programs during summer 2016 — in China and Germany. There are opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, the Zarb School has international exchange programs with a number of universities.

Click the images to get more information.


2016 Zarb Study Abroad Poster

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